Friday, July 30, 2010

Class #2

Hi everyone,

I had a lot of fun today getting a taste for what the rest of the class will be like. Taking a trip out in the harbor is something I've done many times before, so attempting to look at the sights in an ecological/directional way was definitely a new task for me.

The first thing I noticed when we met this morning was the proximity of the water to such a busy tourist area. With hotels, restaurants, public parks, and museums surrounding the waterfront, I expected to look down into the harbor at trash and murky water. Though I saw a few pieces of trash (likely blown by the wind into the water), the water was generally clear and I could even see several feet down. Once we were on the boat, I had fun looking at each of the islands and the different habitats that occupied them. Some had buildings, some were heavily forested, and some had public parks. The forested islands remind me of the natural ecosystems that likely covered all of Boston's islands, and all I could think of was a map that I had seen of historic Boston before the marshes were filled in. I also noticed that some of the developed islands had either sand or small stones lining the shoreline, perhaps to make it easier for people to come on to the islands.

From looking at maps of the Harbor, I could identify Hull's shoreline and could also appreciate every islands location in relation to Deer Island. Because this, to me, is the most identifiable of all the islands aside from Castle Island, it was a good landmark for associating distance between islands. And although I have been through Hull gut many times before and have experienced its wrath, I couldn't identify why that particular area is so choppy. From looking at the map and listening to a description of the area, I could put together a better understanding of the area's workings.

The marine habitats all seemed relatively the same to me as I am not an expert on the subject. However, I know that each island likely has a different habitat because of isolation over time, so it will be interesting to see the different ecosystems on land when we go exploring. From what I said earlier, I noticed a difference between the amount of trees on each island, with some islands that looked untouched by humans and others that have trees that look to be planted by people after deforestation. Also, I know that there are different habitats depending on ocean depth, so habitats around the piers will be different from deep water habitats.

Looking around at the industrial area and noticing how clean the water the water is was definitely the most striking part of the trip. This is something I had just taken for granted before knowing how dirty the water could potentially be near such an industrial area, and now look around noticing the difference between the urban shore and strikingly clean water.

Most of all, I have a greater appreciation for the public's capacity to care about environmental issues when all I typically learn about is the resistance by the public for change. Seeing that the public (and the government) can come together to completely overhaul a pollution system that had so clearly been ingrained into the mindset of the Boston Harbor gives me some hope for the big picture of environmental issues.

-Lydia T

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