I realized on my last blog that I did not really talk too much about the daily duties of an intern. Therefore, this blog will just be a broad recap on some of the recent goings-on at NMLC.
Because some very significant donors came this past Thursday to take a look at the animal hospital, our assigned task for a good part of this week was to have the place looking spick and span rather than a haphazard construction site; after hours of heat, sweat, and dirt, the place looks great. I keep looking at the plan and visualizing how grand it’s going to be when it’s all completed. It will really bring so much to the Buzzards’ Bay area in terms of being a site of interest to attract tourists, but it will also be a stately facility to provide great rehabilitative care to sick or injured marine animals.
I also learned this week how to do a full tank change for Patty. It is a multi-step process that sometimes involves manually hauling heavy water-coolers full of salt water to the bin inside, but when I think of all this turtle has been through, it’s so worth it for her. Feeding is, obviously, also part of the daily routine. But it proved particularly challenging that day. Have you ever tried to crack open a frozen clam? It is probably one of the most frustrating experiences you will ever have. For 30 minutes, I tried (in vain) to extract the hearty meat for Patty that was waiting inside… finally, I had to resort to penetrating what I was starting to believe was a concrete shell with a heavy rock. She did not get her typical ‘clams on the half-shell’ that day, but I believe she was fine with this.
Another exciting piece of news from this week was that the water quality for the critter tank had improved enough to allow more fish and some invertebrates to now call it their home. Wednesday we went out with buckets and nets and collected different types of crabs, sea slugs, periwinkles, and sea stars. All will be catalogued, and while we may have our doubts as to what kind of relationship the crabs and sea stars will foster (the crab’s dinner delight?) we’ll just have to wait and see. Regardless, the kids that come into the Discovery Center will probably be very excited to see some new critters on display.
On this same topic, the start of the summer education programs is coming steadily upon us, and as such we interns have been dividing up the work in order to be ready. Since each week represents a marine animal, we have all chose one or two weeks that match up with what we want to do. I have whale week, and will also be assisting with shark week (which, btw, matches up with Shark Week on the Discovery Channel…. So cool! J I am fascinated by whales, for their immense size is enough to be overwhelming! Also, as part of my intern project on Deep-Sea Exploration (more on that in a later blog) I will be researching sunken whales. What is a sunken whale, you ask? Quite simply, a whale that has died and sunk to the ocean floor, something I believe most of us overlook. Far from being morbid, these occurrences actually offer scientists a rare opportunity to witness the deep-sea food chain in action and all those that feed off of the whale’s carcass. In some cases, when the meat has already been polished off, underwater robots may attempt to bring up the skeleton for scientific purposes. It really is quite fascinating, and I will definitely post more when I research it in-depth.
Whale week will also include some adorable sock puppet whales for kids, and stories. I am hoping to find some on whale migration, for the distances some species travel are quite unbelievable. Perhaps a kid’s version of Moby Dick would also go along with the craft quite nicely, as well as a mini-lesson on the history of whaling, particularly right here on Cape Cod.
Things should be picking up soon with the programs, and it’s very exciting!
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.