Auburn University: Organismal Biology – Evolution, Ecology, & Behavior Major
SUSiE Fellow: 2016 and Daybrook Foundation Scholar
SUSiE Expedition: EXU2016 Leg 2 (all girls) – Exuma, Bahamas
Coordinates: 23° 29.87’ N 75°42.42’ W / 23° 30.25’ N 75 43.95’ W
Location: Fowl Cay, Coral Reef Restoration Nursery & the Coral Reefs on the channel side of Elizabeth Harbour
Mission Objective: Take a group of Bahamian Middle school students from St. Andrew’s Anglican School on a class field trip to Fowl Cay, Georgetown, Bahamas to learn about the reef. Then, hunt for Gorgonia ventalina in the reefs next to Elizabeth Harbour.
I applied to a SUSiE Expedition because I wanted to experience living on a boat and researching coral reefs in the field to help me realize if Marine Biology is what I want to study in graduate school. I love that I will be able to take this experience with me, remembering it as an accomplishment that I achieved by following my own heart and fundraising the tuition on my own.
I think I bring an enthusiastic, encouraging and motivated attitude to the team. I am excited about being in the water and learning all sorts of new ideas and perspectives about life, both under the water and among my peers here on board.
Sometimes the only way to be happy is to face, head-on, the fears that make you doubt the vision you have for yourself. As a freshman, I loved the idea of Marine Biology because it has so much unknown factors.
Adventure is a part of who I am, yet when I became SCUBA certified I had a bad first experience and was discouraged. I decided to explore other degree programs because of this doubt and it helped me to realize that I had been submitting to the fear of that initial experience instead of seeing it as part of the journey.
Since then, I have had a wonderful opportunity to learn about many different topics in Biology, and that is something I do not regret. I consider those experiences part of my journey, as well.
However, now that I am here on a research vessel in the middle of the Bahamas, it is clear to see that Marine Biology is something I would only regret NOT pursuing further.
After realizing my fear of the dangers of the ocean, I eventually came to understand them as motivation to continue in that direction instead of a reason to change my course. If I never overcome the fear of failure or danger, then I will forever be stuck in the realm of the unknown. I plan to apply to graduate school to learn more about tropical biology and work in marine conservation, too. Ultimately, scuba diving is only a small part of the passion I have for the world’s oceans.
For this day, while I was the photo journalist, the SUSiE team took a group of four Bahamian high school students to the Coral Reef nursery near Elizabeth Harbour.
During the field trip I decided to ask these students what they wanted to be when they grew up and why. They all had various different answers. One of them was actually quite interested in being a cruise ship captain!
Although none of them were passionate about conservation or environmental studies, I believe that they had a great opportunity to learn about it.
Whatever they decide to do with their lives, I hope that we were able to inspire them to follow their dreams, even in the face of adversity and discouragement. If nothing else, those obstacles make the accomplishment even more worthwhile.
After we dropped the students off at Kidds Cay, we went into town to stop at the market while we filled up our water and fuel tanks.
Then we set out on a late afternoon hunt for Gorgonians to sample for our project.
This was a beautiful dive that I thoroughly enjoyed videoing.
We then anchored for the night, ate dinner and had a lecture on Exploration Science.
It was definitely an adventurous day!!
Welcome to “Exploring Blue,” an ongoing blog series by SUSiE Expeditions. Climb aboard the rigors, challenges, and transformations experienced by our Fellows (alumni) at sea. We bring you the backstory of their journeys that reveal a desire to go further. All the action happens on our blog, if you want to follow this series sign up here.