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A Summer Intern Helps Scientists on EPA’s Research Vessel

2011 August 1

By Maggie Reilly

I was reluctant to sign onto a week aboard the OSV Bold for a survey in Long Island Sound. I am prone to motion sickness and a week sounded like a long time. However, on second thought, I realized that the experience of living and working on a ship was something that I would never have the opportunity to do again. So, prepared with every over-the-counter motion sickness medication available, I boldly boarded the Bold.

My fellow interns and I were greeted by a friendly crew in New London, CT. We watched from the best vantage point as the captain and his crew orchestrated the pull away from the dock. I had seen pictures of the boat before but I didn’t realize how big she was until I saw her. She’s an old navy ship, retrofitted to conduct surveys to assist the EPA in monitoring critical areas. She runs on 2 electric motors, their original purpose to run quietly to spy on North Korean and Russian submarines.

The Bold was my home for seven days. We worked long hours, watching sonar scans of the ocean’s bottom, hoping to see more than just sand, and deploying the SPI (Sediment Profile Imaging system), which takes pictures of sediment. The work can be tiring, frustrating if equipment fails, and rewarding when you see something exciting.

I must say, I am not a scientist and lack some of the patience required. I had a previous encounter with oceanography and it was not for me. When I signed up for the class, I was expecting to enjoy a semester of learning about dolphins and sea-turtles…that was not the case. In fact, the first words out of my teacher’s mouth were, “if you were hoping to learn about dolphins you’ve come to the wrong place.” As it turns out, oceanography is a complicated mix of biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. There is often a delicate balance of elements where a small change could have huge effects.

In my studies of economics, we often use scientific data. Studies about an ecosystem’s health are used to calculate the ecological cost of contamination—measuring human impact is vital to creating mechanisms within the marketplace to curb damages. Even though I may not conduct experiments, I will use results in my work. From my time on the Bold, I now understand and appreciate these results better.

About the author: Maggie Reilly is a rising senior at Bates College, where she studies Economics and Environmental Studies. She has been a summer intern in the EPA Region 1 Public Affairs office and is a native of the Boston Area.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    August 1, 2011

    Experience by Experiment by Process.-

    Process is sacred and need sacrificed and also sacrificial. It has been the link of our no limit living : social, time and spaces. Experiment needs process and it’s result could make something the best or worst. Both experiment and process should product your experience that arrange to the others for the future. Again, we need process and experiment…..

  2. Devona Garrigus permalink
    August 1, 2011

    Wow. Seven days at sea?! Not for me, thank you! :)

  3. maxolip permalink
    August 3, 2011

    Article giving great information about life on ship & working on shipis very very nice . How to Research Vessel is good information for normal people who not know about it.

  4. Jeannie Brochi permalink
    August 5, 2011

    Maggie, nice post and I love the picture (;0). You did a great job helping out on the survey! Thanks !

  5. giorg permalink
    October 27, 2011

    Article giving great information about life on ship & working on shipis very very nice . How to Research Vessel is good information for normal people who not know about it.

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