Post by Luke Calderaro (Colgate '22).
Work days in Louisiana and Alabama were tough. Our days at sea were long, the Sun was a bright yet haunting constant, and our two boats sometimes felt extremely crowded. At the end of the first leg of our experience, I was looking forward to a bit of time on land. Not long after arriving in Hamilton, though, an unexpected eagerness to get back on the water overcame me. Given our time in Cocodrie and on Dauphin Island, I thought I was fully prepared for our time in Florida. Little did I know that the Sunshine State had a lot in store for us.
I have been playing soccer competitively and leisurely for almost eighteen years at this point, and I think I sweat more in one day on the boat than in any single soccer game in my life. Our first day at sea in Florida was intense. The temperature in direct sunlight was sometimes greater than 100°F, and the sediment samples were enormous. Drinking plenty of water was a necessity, and Paul made sure to keep us on track. I stepped on to land that evening and was so exhausted that I fell asleep around 10 PM. My hopes of evenly spread workdays were crushed when two days of bad weather meant that our team would be at sea for four days straight. I knew from that moment that each day would have to be a strategic mix of work and breaks to conserve energy throughout the week.
Despite the heat and sun, our entire team made it through the week and back to Hamilton. Looking back on the Florida experience, I have not experienced that level of exhaustion in quite some time; I can definitely see why fieldwork is not for everyone. I now have a sort of appreciation for that kind of physical exhaustion, though. It is different from anything that I went through during my undergraduate career, which was filled with a lot of mental and emotional exhaustion. Would I do it all again? Absolutely! For the first time, my job did not feel like a “job.” The joy of being out on the water and collecting specimens that had never been seen before made time fly. On our last day when Paul mentioned that this could be our last time at sea, I thought to myself, that for me,this was definitely not going to be my last time on the ocean.