Intern Journal-Field

JULY 1, 2014

Field

The dive approaches. Sitting on the edge of Millie, I go through the mental checklist etched into my mind. my wet suit, boots and hood wrap my body like a second skin. I have blue flippers on my feet, an inflatable vest around my chest with an air tank strapped to my back; sometimes I pretend its a jet pack that could fly me far away from the chilly depths of the lake but then I remember that there is no milfoil in the clouds. I carefully place my goggles over my eye bones until it feels just right, then push them in place feeling them suction around the symmetrical angles of my face. I stare down into the dark and glassy lake, and only my modified silhouette glares back. I am dreading the cold water, even though I know it is not that bad. With the regulator in my mouth, my left hand on my mask and my right hand on my weight belt I awkwardly yet gracefully plop into the water. Cold liquids shoot up my sleeves and down my back as I swiftly bob on the surface. I give Kendall the standard fist bump to the crown of my head, signaling that I am okay, and she responds with a firm "THANK YOU DIVER!" And with that, I am off. I spin onto my belly and begin letting air out of my BC, dropping to the depths of the mission at hand: the eradication of the invasive and insidious Myriophyllum heterophyllum (A.K.A. variable milfoil). I attempt to stay balanced in the water column, then shove off in search of my prey. From here on out, slow motion. Any sudden kick or crash the the lake floor can lead to articles of sediment particles to float around in my vicinity, causing my vision to be clouded and ultimately making me inefficient in my duties. Inhales sound like Darth Vader, followed by an exhalation of bubbles. I frog kick my way across the lake floor, scanning back and forth when I spot the billowing green tails dancing in the water column. I release some more air from my buoyancy compensator and meet the plant at its base. I grasp the plant by its neck with one hand, then start digging beneath with the other to find the roots. The sediment is a bit compact, so I begin to tickle it, pulling the plant up as I lift it from the lake floor, and with it plumes of sediment that looked like bombs exploding. As the dust settles, I can see the tangled mass of roots, and with that I stuff the milfoil into my yellow mesh bag and move on to the next one. One hour, 700 pounds of compressed air, and five gallons of bagged milfoil later I get a tap on my tank from my kayak tender; my time is up. Time sure does fly when you are having fun! Other than waking up at 6:00 am, dive days have been my favorite part of the internship so far, and I heard the interns last year were occasionally rewarded with Klondike Bars...

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