After earning my degree in ecology and applying my knowledge to projects in various fields of research, it has become very clear to me that a) I love what I do, and b) I want to do what I love. Ecology, however, has many different branches. There is a myriad of directions to go in. While most of my education and experience has been within terrestrial ecology, I began to feel that I wanted to see what marine science was like. Part of my reason for seeking out this opportunity with a marine ecology student was to investigate the question, "Is this where I want to be?"
Well. So far... I'm thinking this isn't a bad place to be!
Peeking into tide pools and seeking hidden treasures
I have now returned from what was my first week "on the job," out at the coast of Ecuador. I am assisting a masters student of USFQ (Universidad de San Francisco Quito) in his marine ecology field research of intertidal invertebrate communities. So essentially, I spend one week of every month out at the coast, splashing around tide pools and looking at cool creatures hidden underneath rocks and shells. And when we've done all our work and the tide has come in? Well, we might as well jump into the warm blue waters and play in the waves, right? Correct.
Brittle star we found under a big rock. They get their name from their propensity to break very easily.
This past week was actually a very light work-load relative to what it typically will be, so it served as a nice introduction to the ecosystems I'll be working in for the next few months. It was a great opportunity to see the Ecuadorian coast, as well. This experiment has sites at multiple locations up and down the coastline, so I got to visit an array of beaches and towns, and try a variety of region-specific culinary treats. And all the fresh seafood I could eat!
The sun shines bright, the water is warm, the creatures are a-plenty, and the food is delicious. And if necessity calls, it's not hard to find a hammock to dangle in while the sun slips down into the big blue puddle. Not bad, I say. Not bad at all.