Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 2: Boston Harbor

Today in class we went on an excursion to the Long Wharf where we boarded a boat to familiarize ourselves with Boston Harbor. Thirty-four islands currently comprise Boston Harbor; however, some of the islands were flattened and repurposed for the expansion of Logan Airport.
Earlier in the day, we learned about the detrimental effects people had on the Harbor that resulted in extremely polluted water.  I was fascinated to learn that water, like land, can be fertilized by waste. By the 1950s, so much human waste had been deposited into the Harbor and that directly correlated to algae growth. I never realized the significant effect the growth of algae has on the environment, and it surprised me to learn that it can lead to anoxic water (a lack of oxygen in the water), thereby creating unlivable conditions causing a copious amount of fish to die and wash ashore. Today we saw the two islands that were used to treat wastewater, rather than directly disposing of it into the Harbor: Nut Island and Deer Island. 
While on the boat today, I saw Boston from a completely different perspective than I ever have before, and I now feel I have a deeper appreciation for the city and the surrounding area. I found the names of some of the islands especially entertaining, because many were named in a way that seemed so simple and rational: for example, Spectacle Island because it resembles glasses, or my personal favorite, John Quincy Adams Island, because it looks just like him (just kidding, that would be one ugly island!).
I also found the anecdote about Nixes Mate very interesting; I had not realized that pirates were ever an actual threat to Boston, nor had I realized that some people believed G-d would personally take a stake in demonstrating a man’s innocence by sinking the Island to prove a point.
I really enjoyed the afternoon on the boat, and feel that I have already learned so much. I also found it inspiring to see a real example of the remarkable things people can achieve when they join together and pursue improvement. The Boston Harbor exemplifies the best of human capabilities: the ability to take one of the most polluted and disgraceful bodies of water and convert it into a beautiful and clean one that can make the people of Boston proud. 

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