Post by Victor Unnone (Colgate '23).
Wherever we traveled seemed to bring a set of experiences that I felt was unique to each state. That being said, Florida brought me some of the most memorable experiences during our fieldwork.
As I approached the R/V Apalachee, the first thought that entered my mind was how similar it was to a battleship. Its aluminum body glinted under the beating sun, blinding me when I stared directly at it and searing my palm as I touched it. The catamaran-style frame came to two points at the bow, which centered the logo of Florida State University that looked suspiciously like Colgate’s.
This vessel came to be my favorite of the three that we worked on this summer, and the crew we worked with were a major contributor to this. My future was on my mind for the majority of the trip, and being among academics meant grad school was the number one discussed topic. The ship techs talked to us about their paths in between sediment grabs, and while I came out of it still unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, they set me with pathways and checkpoints, emphasizing that your career path doesn’t have to be linear. It gave me peace of mind and allowed me to focus on picking through the gravelly shell piles.
On our time off, we were able to explore the beauty of Florida, and to experience this we didn’t have to stray further than our back doorstep. We were right on the water at the FSU Marine Lab dorms, and we were treated to some spectacular sunsets and evening thunderstorms. We visited Wakulla Springs State Park on a day that we had rough seas, and I was treated to an incredible view of grazing manatees in crystal clear waters. Luckily, I had my GoPro with me and recruited a nearby swimmer to take an underwater video.
Overall, the fieldwork was the perfect way to spend part of my summer. Yes, it felt like we were in a sauna whenever we stepped outside and yes, we woke up at 5:45 am every boat day. Yet, I gained more skills, saw things I never thought I would, and established connections for my future. We also had a frog friend in our shower.