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Journals 2003/2004

Elaine Amaral
Portsmouth High School, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

"Long-term bottom trawl survey of Narragansett Bay"
R/V Cap'n Bert Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
Various dates throughout summer

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My luck is holding out weather wise. Yet another gorgeous summer day. Today Tony's friend Abby will be going out with us. She is a graduate student studying marine fisheries. After our first haul and count, Tony shows me how to dissect a flounder. He has brought a cooler to keep the guts in which he will freeze for me until I need them when school starts. This has been enormously helpful for me. My students really like marine biology but it isn't my strong suit. This experience has taught me a great deal about local marine species and with Tony's help I can now bring part of my experience back to the classroom. Then he attempts to teach me to fillet a fish. Carefully he makes his cuts; slowly he separates the scales from the meat of the fish and produces several nice fillets. Then he hands me a sharpened knife, for me to try. Large seagulls have gathered and are squawking loudly around us. I think they might be also laughing at me, because what I am doing does not resemble anything to what Tony was doing. I continue and after some time produce a few pathetic pieces of flounder meat. Meanwhile Tom has joined us and is also filleting some flounder. Quickly he produces fabulous fillets. Practice makes perfect.

We have gone to both Fox Island and Whale Rock and are steaming back to the dock. The sun is shining brightly and the bay is literally sparkling in the light. I am glad I brought my camera today. I tell Tony how much I have enjoyed this and express my envy for what seems to be such a nice job out here on beautiful Narragansett Bay. Tony reminds me that this is a year round data collection, as he tells me some of the harrowing winter experiences when the bay was frozen over in places, how quickly your fingers go numb in cold water and how less than delightful those breezes can be when the are blowing form the northeast in February. Every day I am out here I gain a greater appreciation and respect for what scientists all over the world go through to collect important data so that we can better understand the world around us. I am more than happy to scrub the deck and fish baskets under the warm summer sun. Grateful for this learning experience and the knowledge that I will be talking about it in the comfort of my heated classroom come winter.

"All that is told of the sea has a fabulous sound to an inhabitant of the land, and all its products have a certain fabulous quality, as if they belonged to another planet, from seaweed to a sailor's yarn, or a fish story! In this element the animal and vegetable kingdoms meet and are strangely mingled."
Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, 1865

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