The Think Tank: Dory’s Final Blog for NMLC!

Hello again everyone! I am sad to say that this will be my final blog of the summer, as I venture back to school this coming week, a little earlier for orientation programs at my school. Regardless, it has been an eventful couple of weeks since my last post, full of exciting news to share.

We interns have not only been bust planning Fin & Flippers and prepping crafts for various festivals, but last week we also all complete our finished summer intern projects and presented them amongst ourselves and a few other volunteers.  The five of us had varying topics, but my consisted of the various marine life, exploration, and physical landscape of the Deep Ocean. As a visual for the Discovery Center, I constructed a clay model displaying what the sea floor looks like, and it is not just flat. Mountains, trenches, and underwater volcanoes shape this dramatic landscape about which we know so little. This is part of the reason I had picked the topic In the first place, hopefully to spark an interest in researching more about the deep sea like I desire to do.

My ocean floor clay model

I also made a tri-fold explaining many of the interesting and weird creatures of the deep who are lesser-known, as well as some of the methods of exploration we have used to explore the deep sea. The middle outlines the Mariana Trench, which itself is deeper the 25 empire state buildings stacked on top of each other. Crazy, right?! Finally, I had a Sperm Whale vs. Squid Game for kids (the two species are known predators of the deep) as well as a memory game with picture of some common deep-sea creatures. My crafts consisted of glow-in-the-dark lantern fish sticks (they are really cool!) as well as a simple origami anglerfish. I hope the other interns and the public who will be viewing these will appreciate them for I had a great time reaching and making them.

My trifold for my project about the Deep SeaI would say all intern projects were a success! As a payoff, we were lucky enough to be able to visit both the Woods Hole Science Aquarium and Buttonwood Zoo. The trips were an invaluable education experience that gave me an amazing behind the scenes look at some very interest prospects in both the fields of biology, and more specifically, marine biology.

The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is a small facility, and (as I learned) the first official aquarium in the US. But its size did not affect its “wow” factor on me as I marveled at the numerous species of fish, set up in tanks with such details and themes to each one that I did not notice until pointed out to me. After the fish, Joanna and her friend Rachel, who is the director of the aquarium, took us behinds the scenes to view the Kemp’s Ridely sea turtles not on display, as well as gave us VIP viewing for the harbor seal demonstrations. It was fascinating to see the various behaviors of the sea turtles, some being very calm, while one was so feisty he thrashed the whole time he was held.

Adam is a seal trainer and did a demonstration at the WHSA

Also intriguing was the was feeding time for the seals has been utilized as a time to teach medical preparatory training, like getting the seals to lie on their backs for a fake ultrasound.

Rachel holds a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium

Viewing such animals behaviors and their handlers and trainers in action really ignited my desire to learn to do what they do. While I have considered my future prospect to be research in some marine biology field, studying animal behaviors as well as being an animal trainer has definitely crossed my mind. If nothing else, I now realize I have a strong connection with the aquarium by now having met the people there, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is one of the most renowned research facilities in the world. It is my hope to return and possibly apply for a summer internship or research program there, and any connections developed in the area definitely help.

Likewise, the Buttonwood Zoo was eye-opening in terms of the facilities, tools, and amount of staff that it takes to assist in the upkeep of a successful zoo. As with the aquarium, I found the animal

Two Diamondback Terrapins at the Buttonwood Zoo… Patty’s shell could eventually look like that again!

behavior side of things to be very interesting, for this was also where medical training takes place. I also found the clinic to be particularly interesting, for it was very advanced with its specific labs, necropsy table, x-ray machine, and quarantine holding pens. The variety of animals was astounding! We were extremely fortunate to also be able to feed and pet the two elephants. I was ecstatic!

The elephants at Buttonwood we got to meet!

The opportunity that working at a zoo would provide, such as getting very close to the animals physically and psychologically to read their habits and symptoms, was something that also drew me in from this visit. I realized I do want to do some work and observations with animals up close. As I walked around the exhibits, I was burning with questions that I would want to try and answer as a researcher. Thus, I think both field trips last week were one of my favorite parts about the summer I have spent at NMLC and I am sincerely grateful I was able to go on them. They have made me think deeper about my future career aspects while observing some experts in their field, and I think I have greatly benefitted by seeing their work up close. Thank you for this opportunity!

The NMLC interns having a great day at the zoo! From left: Me, Lianna, Amanda, Corissa, and Frank

It is difficult to say farewell to all the great people at NMLC who have made this internship into an amazing summer for me and I want to just thank you all again so much for everything! I will miss you all dearly, but will be sure to keep updated and definitely stop by whenever I’m in town.

Best Wishes,




Posted by Dory E.
Dory is a Summer, 201o Intern at the National Marine Life Center. She is a sophomore at the University of Tampa majoring in Marine Science and Biology.