Sunday, July 1, 2012

Celebrating a Birthday on Buzzards Bay

Last week I took the day off and drove to Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Blue skies made the sing along in the car all the more enjoyable (no pictures or audio of that to share, trust me this is probably a good thing).  
My destination was the Marine Biological Laboratory, a mecca for marine science research and education. I got the official insider’s tour complete with some time sitting on the water-facing benches taking in the sea air.

What a perfect day for a break and some biology.

The Marine Biological Lab dates back to 1888. The original building is now the library and the architecture is amazing. The massive brick building is full of beautiful hardwood tables, big chairs, and marine animal teaching charts from the late 1800s. There is a history around every corner, including a large sign reading “study nature, not books.” Harvard biologist Loius Agassiz signed this prized piece. Among many other things, Agassiz started a school dedicated to study marine life on Penikese Island in Buzzards Bay and that school is considered the seed that grew into the Marine Biological Lab.  
The wet lab is huge – tanks as far as you can see. A friend steered me through the maze of wet floors and running water. We saw horseshoe crabs, squid, black sea bass, toadfish, spider crabs, lobsters, urchins, sea squirts, and more. There was a tank of clams the size of softballs – carefully labeled for “research only.” No chowder pots for those guys!
The little touch tank at the front showcased some of the local marine life. A small blue lobster turned out to be my best photo model of the afternoon.
The classroom and lab spaces were outfitted with more technology and equipment than I’ve ever seen before. There were people everywhere; I could feel a real sense of community. It was great to see a place that has created a culture that promotes such enthusiasm and passion about marine life.
After the tour, we took a drive past the beaches and Nobska Point Lighthouse to have lunch in Falmouth. Plus I got to visit the infamous Pie in the Sky bakery. The sun was shining, the seafood was fresh, and the company was fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. 
Photos by Sara K. MacSorley