The perfect sunrise finally happened for us in Provincetown, one of the easternmost points on the Cape that’s about an hour and a half away from Woods Hole. No words can describe this beauty: It was low tide so my friend and I basked by the sailboats while waiting for the sunrise. All photos by Jack Hildick-Smith, a Cornell student who works at the Marine Biological Laboratory this summer and takes amazing panoramic shots.
The MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) celebrates its 125th anniversary today. The MBL is another marine sciences institution situated in Woods Hole and everyone in the village was invited to join the festivities.
In addition to the festivities, Dr. Osamu Shimomura, Nobel Prize Laureate and discoverer of green fluorescent protein, gave a talk on his scientific career. He was incredibly humble and said that he wanted to study bioluminescent jellyfish simply because it was “cool”, and I couldn’t agree more. They’re awesome (and ctenophores are so fun to poke around because they bioluminesce more when disturbed – an hypothesized antipredatory response).
Since our experiments are highly dependent on when spawns of larvae are ready, once they were finally developed, we visited Martha’s Vineyard shellfish group to pick them up. I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard (MV for short) and was extremely excited at the prospect of getting on the ferry, especially since I hear MV was simply a more touristy version of Woods Hole and wouldn’t have went out of my way to visit there otherwise.
After getting the larvae, which were collected on 200um filters so we have a lower size limit, we check for their competency to settle by looking for eyespots (which develop in late-stage larvae).
Since these larvae are already competent to settle, our experiments are extremely time-sensitive. We have to transfer them into bleached culture buckets, set up the airstone system, feed them, and start the experiment as soon as possible. We typically have 2-3 days after larval acquisition to perform the experiments, and multiple people in the lab take shifts to realize the continuous stint of data collection in these 2-3 days.
I have to admit that it was a tiring three days, but Lauren, our advisor, was super supportive, took quite a few shifts herself, and was kind enough to bring us food and munchkins (did you know that this was the “Timbits” of the US? so cute!). Additionally, after some level of sleep deprivation, random things become hilarious, so we had a pretty great time derping around the lab while waiting for the data to finish downloading after each collection (each dataset contains several gigabytes of images). Overall, the experiments went very well and we’ve successfully collected enough data to work on through the next few months.
Lots of red, white, and blue, as well as jokingly shouting “‘Murica!” abound yesterday as independence day was celebrated at Woods Hole. The day started off with a parade at noon, featuring many people dressed up in sea-related paraphernalia. Yay, science!
It was amazing how crowded Woods Hole got (and now I finally understand the contrast between the “summer people” and “winter people”) on this day of festivities, and by the time fireworks rolled around, there was a ton of traffic and barely any spot on the beach. We didn’t feel like braving the traffic up to Falmouth, where the fireworks were, and decided on a spot just off Oyster Pond. Unfortunately, the weather has to be your friend here, and similar to the sunrise earlier, the sky was completely clear, except for just the area where the fireworks come out. We were reduced to fawning over misty splotches of colour behind the clouds. It was pretty, but I’d recommend spending the day in Falmouth instead and trying to watch it from there.
One of my good friends from University of Toronto visited me this weekend. Since we didn’t want to infringe on WHOI residences’ no overnight guest policy, she found nice couchsurfing hosts from MBL to stay with. They were extremely engaging and kind; we met for pizza and chatted about things to do around Woods Hole such as scallopping later in the summer, bioluminescent dinoflagellate blooms, and the OceanQuest cruise, which one of them works for. The pier for the cruise is right across from the Marine Biological Laboratory campus near WHOI.
Being suckers for educational, touristy shenanigans, we immediately decided to try it out. For $25, you get an 1.5 hour cruise around WHOI and the Elizabeth Islands, which extend southwest from WHOI, and learn about the cool creatures around Woods Hole’s waters, as well as the geological history of the area. Although this cruise was tailored towards tourists and children, I was impressed with the scientific accuracy of the descriptions, and some of the animals were fantastic to play with!
The summer solstice in Falmouth began with the Falmouth Arts Festival, which featured upbeat, jazzy artists performing in a tented dance space in the Falmouth public library square. Granted, we seemed slightly out of place in comparison to the endearing middle-aged couples that filled the crowd, but the evening high-spirited and the music was fantastic.
Since this is my first time living on the coast (except for a few of my earlier childhood years), I was keen on watching a sunrise over the ocean. Oyster Pond is only a few minutes away from an east-facing beach and I managed to convince a few other brave souls to stay out by the beach most of the night in high hopes of a magnificent sunrise. This is what we got:
Not only was it blocked by clouds, but the sunrise was a bit far too north to be over the oceans at this time, when the solstice leads to a northeast azimuth. It may only be possible to view an ocean sunrise later in the summer, when the azimuth moves south towards a more eastern angle. Disappointing, but beautiful nevertheless…the perfect sunrise still eludes us!
Typically, SSFers bike south from Oyster Pond on the Shining Sea Bikeway to get to work, but the majority of the Bikeway lies north of Oyster Pond. The distance from Oyster Pond to the northern end of the bikeway is about 8 miles one way, and about 4 miles to the Great Sippewissett Marsh:
The return trip (16 miles) took about 2 hours, so keep that in mind because sunset is at around 8 here and it tends to get quite creepy when dark (although that’s when you encounter less people on the trail, which is perfectly conducive to belting out eg. you sexy thang while biking, knowing that there’s no one around). Don’t forget to bring lots of insect repellant, since the area is mostly a saltwater marsh (although, I was under the impression that mosquito larvae resided in freshwater?). After being swarmed by mosquitoes in just a quick picture stop, I had master the art of one-handed bike riding while taking a photo to prevent further abuse. Although the marsh at sunset contained an almost magical quality, I probably will stick to the beautiful stretch of the bikeway that hugs the beach just south of Oyster Pond from now on.
The night biking journey further continued as a bunch of us biked down (with flashlights!) to the local pub, Captain Kidd’s. Boy was I glad it was a Wednesday night, so we didn’t stay for long, because the drinks here are ridiculously expensive (for American standards, which equals average-priced for Canadian standards). A pint of anything other than PBR hovered around $6 (as a comparison, that equals to some 6-packs here). However, the bartenders are nice, the atmosphere is lively, and it’s filled with WHOI students/employees. Definitely a neat place to check out!