Pathway of the Nerds

January 6, 2020

Amelia Austin, Smith College

SEA S-290 Global Ocean students explore the intertidal zone around Woods Hole (l to r: Leif Saveraid, Justin Sankey, Tom Rubino, and Lindsay Agvent, with Matthew Watowich in the background).

SEA S-290 Global Ocean students explore the intertidal zone around Woods Hole (l to r: Leif Saveraid, Justin Sankey, Tom Rubino, and Lindsay Agvent, with Matthew Watowich in the background).

Reporting to you from Woods Hole where my shipmates and I are settling in nicely to our small cottage homes. The past few days have been packed with exploration, knot-tying practice, and far too many name games. Friday morning marked the start of classes where we began to dive into major topics such as maritime history and indigenous populations in New Zealand. In the afternoon, our class ventured down to Woods Hole for our first field trip where we received a tour of the area and facilities we will have access to during our shore component. Our group in particular found great interest browsing the rare book collection held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and when talking with my housemates later that evening, many recounted how their highlight of the day was seeing a signed copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species!

We returned home excited to make this neighborhood our own for the coming weeks and ended the evening with our first home-cooked dinners and an ice cream social hosted by Colleen and Maia–our on-land residential advisors.This weekend, a majority of our Global Ocean trip members were eager to begin exploring the area on our own. On Saturday morning I went with a group to Betsy’s Diner in Falmouth for a hearty breakfast, and afterwards we split up into smaller clusters for some sight-seeing. Even though the weather was not ideal for a beach day, a few of us found a small path by the Nobska Lighthouse leading to the oceanside where we climbed some jetty rocks and marveled at the remains of horseshoe crabs and mounds of thick seaweed (see photo). With red cheeks and cold hands, we decided it was time to check out the local coffee shops downtown for some hot beverages and snacks. Many of us stayed to hunker down and begin reading for our classes on Monday. Eventually we made it back home to enjoy the rest of our Saturday evening together.

The majority of Sunday was also spent in smaller groups. Some folks continued to get a head start on elective readings and homework and others decided to spend the morning outside in the sun either biking or running on the trails by the beach. While it would have been fun to spend the whole day exploring, much of the afternoon was spent reading about navigation strategies at sea, migratory patterns of coastal birds, and other wildlife that is endemic to Polynesian islands.

Overall, I am looking forward to diving deeper into classes in the next few days, building a collective knowledge together, and getting to know everyone as we prepare to embark on our nautical adventure in a mere five weeks!

- Amelia Austin, Smith College

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