At Home on the Ocean

posted Jul 2, 2012, 12:51 PM by Shannon Bresnahan   [ updated Jul 11, 2012, 12:50 PM by Kirk Sato ]
Hello everyone! I recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelors of Science, studying Conservation and Resource studies with a minor in Forestry. I am interested in marine biology and conservation. Specifically, I am interested in fisheries and reducing bycatch, with the goal of designing sustainable fishing strategies in order to meet the world's dietary demands, thus preserving vulnerable marine populations. I am hoping to attend graduate school to learn more about policies and strategies to meet my goals. I envision myself working in the field ultimately obtaining a doctorate degree in the field of marine conservation and management.

Throughout my life I have developed a very special relationship with the ocean. My grandfather was a ship captain and my father is a sailor. Ever since I started walking I would sail with my father on his sailboat. At seven I started competitive racing on little boats called “Optimists.” After I immigrated from Poland at age 14, I continued my interaction with the oceans even though I stopped sailing. In my junior and senior years of high school I participated in Bahia summer program, thanks to Ocean Discovery Institute, in which I had an opportunity to travel to Baja California, Mexico, for five weeks in order to conduct scientific research on marine environments. The Bahia program sparked my interest by exposing me to hands-on science experience, making me realize the importance of research. While at the university, I participated in various internships, volunteering opportunities and programs that related to ocean conservation, ecology and biodiversity. Despite my history and experience in the field, I still have a lot to learn. My enthusiasm for learning and exploring is driven though my excitement and expanding passion for the world oceans. Textbook knowledge about marine science and biology is interesting and informative, but there is nothing like the experience of going on a research vessel, witnessing and participating in the actual research that will have important implications in furthering knowledge on the marine ecosystems.

This summer I am participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and am working in Lisa Levin's lab. My mentor, Benjamin Grupe, a graduate student in Lisa's lab, is helping me understand deep ocean methane seeps and their ecology. On this cruise I am hoping to further my knowledge of deep oceans, receive hands-on research training, and most importantly have fun enjoying every moment of living on a ship, being on the ocean, and conducting scientific research. I am extremely happy to be here and while sitting on the dock, I look around and I feel at home, and this home of mine I am determined to explore and protect.

Photo: The first 24 hours of the research cruise was dedicated to surveying
the seafloor for signs of methane seeps using multibeam technology.

Photo: Blanka Lederer assisted with CTD operations,
specifically collecting seawater samples for dissolved inorganic carbon analysis.

So far, the food is great! The crew is extremely friendly and the lab setup looks scientific and professional. As soon as we left the port we saw two sea lions sitting on a marker buoy, and a number of dolphins started  jumping out of the water which created a truly scenic view at sunset. The Seeps Team, of which I am a part, started surveying the bottom of the sea floor looking for signs of disturbance and gas plumes. I have been helping other teams with their projects by assisting them with sample collection. It is fascinating to learn about other research conducted on the ship and learn how everything is interconnected. People are smiling and seem happy. The weather is great! I am glad to be here!

--Blanka Lederer, recent graduate of UC Berkeley