Summer is a well deserved break from the rigorous classroom learning that makes up ten months of our lives each year. It is a time to discover who we are, and pursue our interests. For some this means relaxing at the pool, going to camp, working a summer job, or traveling. For high school “soon to be junior” Merissa, this summer has been life changing, as she has embarked on a marine biology journey interning at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium.
Each day was another adventure as she did everything from greeting the aquariums hundreds of daily visitors, to attending lectures about careers in marine science. Merissa, along with the other interns, fed the animals and cleaned the tanks; they also worked with the kids at the touch tanks, and participated in both classroom and hands-on studies. She recently dissected the stomach of a seal in order to determine fish consumption which helps partnering organizations set regulations on fishing, in order to keep up the fish populations in the area. The aquarium also takes on the task of rehabilitating injured animals. For example, they are currently hosting a sea turtle that was beached, as well as two seals, including one that was blinded by a shark attack.
From an early age, Merissa has spent time in Cape Cod. Now, this learning experience has given her the tools to analyze it from a different perspective and also notice how the environment is changing. She realized that beachside housing developments threaten marine organisms and ruin their ecosystems. Rock walls, or jetties, built to prevent further beach erosion are crushing and burying eggs that have rested on the coasts for incubation or to hatch by marine life, endangering various species.
Merissa knows there is a lot more work ahead for her and the aquarium in order to create proper balance between man and marine life. She sets a great example for how we can take advantage of our time off from school and explore the field that we are interested in.
Sammy Berman was a summer intern at the EPA working in the Office of Regional Administrator in Boston. She is a junior at Gann Academy High School and is interested in marine biology.