From June to August this year, I had the distinct opportunity to intern at the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant's Skidaway campus in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia. This was a great way for me to get experience in the marine science community.
The majority of my work was spent with the Stormwater program. This involved locating and assessing over 200 low-impact development (LID) sites in the coastal Georgia area. Such sites consist of instrastructure in which water run-off and rainwater is collected, filtered of pollutants, and held in storage via natural means. Some common examples include, green roofs, permeable pavement, and rain gardens.
On a daily basis, I planned out which sites were in close enough proximity that it would strategic to visit that day using a GIS viewer (global information system), which is essentially a map overlaid with points representing each site. A typical work day consisted of 8-12 sites. Upon arrival, I would talk to the property owner and explain what work I was doing if it was on private land or begin my assessment if on public land. When in the field, I carried around an iPad which I used to fill out the essential information about the sites, which consisted of: pictures of the practice, general information, dimensions of the site or any in-flow/out-flow pipes, and the overall effectiveness.
In addition to field work, I also worked at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium one or two days per week. I usually spent part of the day processing the information from field work, but I oftentimes had the opportunity to help take care of the touch tanks available to visitors. This provided me with animal care and aquarium maintenance experience. I got to interact with critters such as horseshoe crabs, whelks, and blue crabs! Additionally, I was able to go on two trawls on research vessels from the center. For this, nets were dragged in the estuary adjacent to Skidaway Island so that summer campers could see fish found in our local waters.
My internship this past summer was an experience I will never forget. It allowed me to get a feel for what it is like to work in the field of marine science both in the field and in the office. But most importantly, it showed me how much of an impact any one person can have on conserving the world’s most precious resource, the oceans.