Saturday, August 31, 2019

76 dives later

Let me tell you about one of the most engaging and academically rich experiences of my life.  This past summer, I had the opportunity to assist with the fieldwork for the Childress Lab projects that are currently being conducted in the Florida Keys. Let me start by saying that I’m studying to be an engineer, not a writer, so my ability to paint a picture with my words is extremely limited. That’s okay though because no amount of poetic imagery can even come close to describing just the simple sensation of resurfacing after an hour-long dive. 
This experience was incredible, to say the least. We spent the first weeks working our tails off, diving around four times per day, to get a head start on all of our work.  We did parrotfish, butterflyfish, and goby surveys, as well as structure deployments, videos, and rugosity measurements on Kara's sites.  After a couple weeks, we began to relax a little as we realized that we were ahead of schedule.  We continued our work on parrotfish surveys, began to do AGGRA surveys of the structures, and used acoustic telemetry to study lobster homing and parrotfish territoriality.  As the summer progressed, we had a few off days to explore the Keys and rest.  We went to Indian Key twice just to walk around and explore, we went to the Everglades and were eaten alive by mosquitos, and we spent a day in Key West - a day which provided enough experiences to write a novel.  
Kelsey and I were able to do this work using Creative Inquiry funding, and we both made and presented electronic posters at the end of the Summer for the CI Showcase.  Here is a link to my poster if you want to get a more in-depth view of our work this Summer. 

Overall, this trip was a beautiful and exhausting success (except for when we tried to catch butterflyfish - that was a miserable failure).  We did everything we wanted to and had a great time doing it.  The work was as rewarding as it was difficult, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.  I am incredibly grateful to CI and the Childress Lab for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to continue working with these amazing people.  

Here's our Summer in numbers
9 crusty sailors
8 structure deployments
7 sites in one day
6 trips to Out SPA
5 manatee sitings
4 perfect dockings (for me at least)
3 million Scoville units 
2 sunsets at the Lorelei
1 Summer, over in a flash

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Cowboy Summer

This summer I traveled to College Station, Texas to visit my aunt. I left June 1st and remained there for the entire month and it was such a fun experience! My aunt took me to multiple free concert series going on throughout the summer, one of which was called Dwayne Doopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers. They are a very unique band that has been nominated for a Grammy and have such a fun sound! The lead singer plays an accordian and literally rips on it. I highly suggest you search for them and listen to their music! We also had the opportunity to explore Texas A&M as it was 5 minutes away from the house and it's quite a unique school. In some ways its similar to Clemson as the town is very much a college town so its a lot quieter in the summer with all the students gone. However, it has a big country twist to it compared to Clemson. People wear cowboy hats, huge belt buckles and occasionally say "howdy." BIG cowboy vibes! It was super amusing and also interesting to see. We also visited the George Bush Library and got to step into his shoes as a young man up until the point he was president. The Bush family is from College Station and often comes to visit the library as well as the university. Unfortunately, they didn't the day that I was there despite the celebration for George Bush Sr.'s birthday. There was cake and ice cream as well as other refreshments there that were free to the public for his special day as well as the museum to explore. Finally, before boarding the plane I stopped at one of my bucket list places: Whataburger. Its such a Texas thing! And I enjoyed it very much.. so much so that my aunt bought me 2 burgers to take back home with me.
I highly appreciated this trip as it allowed me to experience more of the US. Usually I travel outside the country during the summers so I really haven't seen much of the country I've lived my whole life in. So this was a refreshing experience and also a special time to spend with my favorite aunt.

The Key(s) to a Great Summer

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Florida Keys and work on research projects with our lab. Some of our projects included fish surveys, artificial structure deployment, and lobster & parrotfish tagging. Each project was a new, fun experience, even if the experience was tossing concrete blocks out of a boat for a few hours. Our first few weeks, we were doing reef fish surveys every day. I had the coolest job in the world: swimming around beautiful reefs and counting fish. Our focus was on the butterflyfish and parrotfish.

When we went on our night dives, it felt like a completely different world. The reef was nearly empty of all the daytime fish, which had been replaced by a whole new world of creatures. Every flash of light shone on a new pair of red eyes. While on our night dives, we looked for stoplight supermale parrotfish to tag. Watching those tagging surgeries was a truly unique experience.

Aside from the diving and the people, one of the best things about this summer was being on the boat nearly every day. I’m sure that I’m a few inches shorter than I was at the beginning of the summer, but it was worth it for the fun of getting tossed around in the waves.

There were also lizards. Everywhere. I got to have the best summer of my life in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, diving nearly every day and seeing lizards and amazing sea creatures on a regular basis. Oh, and the people were pretty cool, lasting friendships and all that mushy stuff.

Summer in Chucktown

Hi everyone! My goal has always been to become an aquatic animal veterinarian. But in order to achieve that ambition, I had to forgo a marine internship in Florida so as to increase my hours of experience for veterinary school applications.

So, this past summer I lived in Charleston, SC where I had the opportunity to work at both a veterinary ophthalmology practice, as well as an exotic veterinary practice. It was a privilege to work for, and learn from, two board certified veterinary ophthalmologists as a veterinary assistant. I was able to observe highly specialized surgeries conducted under an operating microscope, as well as help out with other procedures and duties. This experience opened my eyes (no pun intended) to the possibility of specializing after veterinary school.

As a veterinary technician at the exotic practice, I gained an immense amount of hands-on experience taking radiographs, administering subcutaneous fluids, drawing blood, processing bloodwork and urine samples, filling prescriptions, monitoring surgery, sterilizing surgical instruments and caring for in-patients. Also, I had the privilege of handling unique pets such as bearded dragons, snakes, chameleons, lizards, rabbits, chickens, ferrets, rats, birds, and pigs. I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences and am looking forward to cultivating my interest in ophthalmology and exotic/aquatic animal medicine in veterinary school.


Toward the end of the summer, I traveled to Aruba with my family where I spent a few days volunteering at the animal shelter and shadowing the local veterinarians. It was extremely humbling to discuss the differences between veterinary medicine in the US and in the Carribean islands with the practice owner and witness first-hand the island’s overpopulation problem. To combat this issue, the government has installed what the locals call a “kill cage”. Adjacent to the animal shelter is a large shed where locals are able to drop off pregnant, stray, and sick animals or unwanted puppies and kittens for the government to euthanize. I was shocked that this was what they considered their “normal”. This experience convinced me to one day (as a veterinarian) volunteer to do spay and neuter clinics in developing countries like Aruba. It would be an amazing opportunity to travel and make a difference across the globe.

Overall, it was a very busy summer!

I’m excited to get back to marine research with the CMR lab where I hope to continue pursuing my passion for the conservation of wildlife and wild places.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Summer of 2019

This summer I had the opportunity to go down to the Florida Keys with the Childress lab. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The first time we went diving was life-changing. Being so close to the wildlife including sharks and rays was unforgettable. I distinctly remember at one point swimming through a group of school of what seemed like thousands of fish. It was breathtaking. As I swam through them they would break rank, allowing me to swim untouched through their midst and converged behind me. It felt like something out of a dream, and I will always carry the memory of my first dive. We spent the next week and a half that I was there doing reef surveys every day. It was definitely harder than what I thought it would be. However, I enjoyed every moment of being underwater. Every dive had something interesting to reveal, and I always took a moment to hang in the water column and observe the individual beauty of each sight. My stay in the Florida Keys has definitely impacted the way I view the world and confirmed my aspiration to become a marine researcher.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Summer Full of Handstands & Squeals

At the beginning of the summer, I was stuck working at Fike.  It was not all that fun but at least I had a cool boss who would always send me pictures of sloths.  Most of my time was spent watching the Bachelorette and trying to convince the few people here to go kayaking with me.

By the middle of June, I was on a flight to the Florida Keys to help with research in our lab.  The plane I was on had to do at least 23 infinity loops in the sky do to a storm.  It was excruciating.  However, before I knew it, I was a week in to the best month of my life, over my sea sickness, and diving everyday.

While in the Keys, I discovered that bar and yellow jacks are my favorite fish.  I literally squealed every time I saw one so it is definitely a proven fact.  I also got the chance to help untangle a sea turtle from some rope and had a lobster sit in my lap while I did one of my first AGGRA surveys.

I am super thankful for the experiences and friends I gained this summer.  I learned so much about so many different things.  It's made me an even cooler human being (just kidding I'll never be cool).  I hope I'll be doing underwater handstands again real soon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My Summer 2019

This summer was really great for me. I was able to do a lot of diving and I worked in Morehead City like I did last year. I was able to work for Division of Marine Fisheries with the same people I worked with last year. Before I started working, I went with the scuba club to Marathon. We rented a boat and a house and for four days we did as much diving and relaxing as possible. It was one of our best trips and the most fun I’ve had while in the keys with the club.

While I was down there, we did a lot of reef diving both shallow and deep. I was able to get more into underwater photography and spearfishing. It was our first time as a club being down in Marathon and also our first time renting a boat. I think it went really well.

While I was in Morehead I was able to do a few wreck dives. One of the dives we did was on the Carribsea, a WWII wreck that had plenty of sharks and grouper.

At the end of the summer, I said goodbye to everyone I worked with and my family and I went down to the Keys for the opening of lobster season. We dove two to the three times a day for six day straight. It was hard work but it was worth it because of everything we got to do. By the end of summer I was ready to come back to school to see my friends and get back to work.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Coral Holt: What I did this summer

Hi everyone!

My name is Coral Holt. I'm new to the CMR team this year, but I've previously participated in Something Very Fishy and loved it! Over the next two years I'll be working with Dr. Childress on his lobster studies.

I want to kick off the new school year with a post about what I did this summer. I did a little bit of everything this summer, which made for a good balance of relaxing and keeping myself busy. In the first month of summer, I was able to go home to Myrtle Beach, rest up, and spend some much-needed time with family. During this time I also worked on some professional development as well as MCAT studying.

Then, I had the amazing opportunity to spend a month in Columbia at the USC School of Medicine shadowing throughout June. Through this experience I met so many amazing people, and I further solidified my passion for medicine. During this month, I took a little weekend trip back home to go to the Carolina Country Music Fest, which was a blast!

The last month of summer was spent back at home taking a biochemistry course. Although most definitely difficult, I ended up learning a lot through this course. Also during this time, the USWNT (my favorite team) won the World Cup!!!

Now I am back in Clemson, ready and excited to kick off the school year! I look forward to keeping you all up to date throughout my time here.

Coral Holt