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Whale That Was Fun! An Admissions Trip to Sitka, Alaska

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link

Well, here I am back at the Coast Guard Academy after an amazing weekend in (you’ll never guess it) SITKA, ALASKA!! How lucky am I, right?! Well, as some of you may know I had an internship this summer through the Marine Sciences department at the Sitka Sound Science Center in Sitka, Alaska, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion and naturally I wanted to go back. Lucky for me, our internship invited us back to Sitka for a weekend in November for the annual Whale Festival, or Whalefest. Whalefest is a four-day event full of research symposium presentations, scientific talks, a film night, wildlife tours, concerts, and much more! Of course we simply had to go, but we weren’t sure how we would get the funding so I did a little bit of research. As fate may have it, on the Friday before Whalefest weekend, the University of Alaska Southeast, along with the Science Center, was hosting the National Ocean Science Bowl competition right there in Sitka. This is a competition where high schoolers from all over the state (even the country) come to compete in a trivia style competition with questions solely focused on our ocean environment. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do a little recruiting so I talked to Admissions and pitched my idea and BAM! It worked, we were going back to Alaska!!

I know it seems crazy to fly all the way across the country for the weekend, but it was definitely worth it. We arrived Thursday night just in time to have dinner with all our friends from Sitka. Then, Friday we volunteered at the Science Bowl competition all day! I was wearing my favorite Coast Guard Academy lacrosse shirt (had to represent!) and talking to the high school students about the Academy every chance I got! After that, we got to attend some of the scientific talks and experience Whalefest, which was a blast! On Saturday morning, we donned our very professional Service Dress Blue uniforms and gave an hour long presentation to the community and the high schoolers from the Ocean Bowl about the Academy and the admissions process. Our presentation was a huge success and people were asking lots of great questions (they also loved the Bears backpacks, brochures, and pens we handed out as well). After the presentation we explored the festival some more and soaked up the beautiful (rare) sunshine that was shining down on Sitka that weekend. On Sunday, I went out in a little skiff with some friends and got to see the humpback whales bubble net feeding and breaching out of the water! It was absolutely incredible (and a tiny bit scary) to see these massive and majestic animals so close to us! Overall, the weekend was absolutely amazing and I am beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to go. I will never be able to thank the Coast Guard enough for the opportunities it has given me to learn, travel, explore and experience the world.

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A Summer Blog from the Last Frontier

(Just for Fun, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link

Greetings from Sitka, Alaska, the most beautiful (and rainiest) place on Earth! I know it’s been a little while since my last blog, but this summer has been a whirlwind of exciting travel and new experiences. This past spring I arrived to my first unit, the great Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro in Kodiak, Alaska. Kodiak was very cold, very rugged, and very beautiful. Life on the cutter was a unique and interesting experience. The cutter is a 378 foot high endurance cutter that patrols the Bearing Sea and over to Japan. While on board we got to live the junior officer life, helping out with the cutter’s Change of Command ceremony, morale events, preparations to get underway, and much, much more.

After Kodiak, I flew to southeast Alaska to a tiny island town called Sitka for the second half of my summer program. Here in Sitka, I live at the Coast Guard Air Station and work at the Sitka Sound Science Center through an internship provided to me through my major at the Academy (Marine and Environmental Sciences). At the Science Center, myself and the other Academy intern, are working on various research projects, while getting involved in the local community and volunteering at other center’s camps and events. Our time here in Sitka so far has been a blast! Our primary research here has been conducting shellfish surveys for the local tribe in an area crucial for subsistence clamming. We are very excited to be wrapping up this work and have put together a wonderful presentation on the Academy and our time here in Sitka, as well as the results from our surveys and the rest of our research to present to the community tonight at the public library.

I have gone hiking, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, sightseeing, and much more during my time here at the internship. I have seen the most beautiful mountains, sunsets, and wildlife such as eagles, bears and whales! Alaska is such an incredible and amazing place (with the best fresh fish available anywhere) and I would highly recommend visiting! If you are at all interested in the Science Center or the internship you can find us online on Facebook, Instagram or at our website: www.SitkaScience.org :)

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Crunch Time and Thanksgiving

(Academics, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Well, it is finally that time of year again and I can’t wait! Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. I can’t wait to finally relax, see all of my family, and of course eat Thanksgiving food; but before the holiday leave period rolls around we have a couple weeks of crunch time. That is when, all of the sudden, you are just overwhelmed with major projects, tests, and papers that the teachers have to squeeze into their class schedules before Thanksgiving leave. This week has been a total whirlwind and I still have two days left to get through before leave. It has been especially hard now that a lot have my friends have already gone home early on recruiting leave, Chase Hall feels a little extra lonely and quiet. Plus they also love to send me pictures of them relaxing at home or with the new Starbucks holiday drinks in their fun fall civilian outfits, how insensitive! Just kidding really, we’re all just a little antsy to get home to our families.

I am very lucky to live so close to the Academy, but since some of my classmates aren’t as lucky they can’t travel home for this holiday. I always extend an open invitation to anyone who can’t go home for Thanksgiving; no one should miss out on the good food in my opinion. Now, the only thing standing in the way of me and that turkey is a five-page paper on the subject of a world without mangrove forest habitats in Southeast Asia for my fisheries biology class and a massive rough draft poster presentation for our marine GIS project (or geospatial information systems). For our GIS project we are correlating NOAA sighting data of right whales to the acoustic detections of the DMON buoy located off of Martha’s Vineyard that I have been working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on for my directed study as well. The importance of the project is crucial for the conservation of the species and will be presented to District 1 and hopefully Headquarters so that the Coast Guard will take on the buoy project and continue with this valuable research. The whole project is very interesting, but also very complicated so it has taken a ton of focus, research, calculations, and mapping to put it all together so far. Anyway, I should probably get back to working on that… Happy almost Thanksgiving everyone!

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[MES]sing Around

(Academics, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Hello everyone and happy fall! I wanted to take this opportunity to blog about my major (the best major) here at the Academy and that is MES or Marine and Environmental Sciences. Within my major, I focus on two of the three intended tracks which are biology, physical oceanography and chemistry (I study biology and physical oceanography). I may be a little bit biased but I promise I am not exaggerating when I say that MES majors have the most fun at the Academy. We are constantly in the labs doing hands-on dissections, or out trawling for fish on the Thames River. Any other major will admit that they are jealous of the countless field trips we have to the beach, the Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, or the Mystic Aquarium. I also find that learning about the environment that we will be operating in and around as officers is not only beneficial, but absolutely essential to our futures.

The one thing about being an MES major that makes me a little bit different is my directed study program, which goes on outside of class. My directed study is focused on stress physiology in marine mammals. More specifically I am working with Mystic Aquarium to determine if saliva samples collected from the exhale of whales will be indicative of stress levels present in hormones like cortisol and aldosterone that are present in blood samples. Every Thursday afternoon I head over to the aquarium’s labs located on the UCONN Avery Point Campus in Groton, Connecticut. At the labs, I work on a variety of tasks for the project including the analysis of samples (from 9 different Beluga whales captured and released in Bristol Bay, Alaska) in the flow cytometer; as well as archiving blood samples from past veterinary records for the Belugas at the aquarium along with stranded animals that the aquarium has rehabilitated or blood samples received for other studies. Along with my lab work, I also get to travel over to the aquarium to collect the actual samples as well, which involves working with the whales, always an absolute dream come true!!

Along with my work with the Aquarium, I also work with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) out on Cape Cod. WHOI currently has a buoy deployed off of Martha’s Vineyard that contains a hydrophone and satellite system to record and transmit noise picked up in the vicinity. The noise we are looking for is whale calls. Based on the songs the buoy hears, we can identify the species of the whale in the area, which is especially important for the conservation efforts of the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The website designed and created by WHOI is in the process of being turned over to me and a couple cadets for constant analysis and publication regarding the resulting species in the area.

Another thing I was lucky enough to participate in this past summer, which was associated with my major, was the discovery of the S.S. Coast Trader, a shipwreck off the coast of Vancouver, along with the team at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and on the Nautilus (a research vessel operated by the graduate school at URI). There is so much more I could say about my major, but I know no one has the time to read all that. Anyway, in conclusion, I could not be any happier with my major and the incredible opportunities I’ve had thus far here at the Academy. I will continue to happily [MES]s around here at school with my fish, my whales, and of course my homework and I hope to keep you all updated! Don’t hesitate to email me with any and all questions.

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Lax, Lax, Re-Lax

(Academics, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Hello everyone and happy snow day! That’s right today is February 8th and here at CGA we had our very first snow day of the 2016 winter season! All excitement aside, it provided for a great extra day to get some homework done and just relax a little bit. Speaking of “lax,” last week marked the beginning of spring sports season for the greatest sport on earth, lacrosse! I am thrilled to be in season again, although conditioning is pretty tough and these days we tend to have to shovel the field before practice... We practice six days a week and have been working on fitness like crazy to prepare for our upcoming games. Although playing a sport is a pretty big time commitment, I love the girls on the team and there’s no other way I would rather spend my afternoons here at the Academy. Playing a sport also gives us a much needed break after the academic day and before starting on homework. Lacrosse also provides some incredible opportunities in terms of team development, leadership lessons, and travel. This spring break we will be going to Colorado to visit the Air Force Academy and play a few games against teams in the area. I am super excited and hope we will have a little bit of time to hike and explore. During one of our recent practices, we had to stop playing so that the President of the country of Georgia could cross our field, along with his escorts and secret service. Believe it or not, the team actually got to take a picture with him! He was such a nice man and even mentioned how he had heard of us and our world famous lacrosse skills.

Also, as promised, here is an update on my whale project: so I was very nervous to present to the Mystic Aquarium staff, but I did and they loved it! I explained all of the research that I had done and even provided everyone with an annotated bibliography of the papers I’d read (there were about 10 people in attendance!). The research and development team then asked me if I could come up with some research proposals on my own for ideas I had or the type of work I want to pursue with the whales. So far I am thinking serum cortisol levels in saliva (sounds fun right?). I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the aquarium and I look forward to learning and working more with them in the future, especially the whales! Go books, go Bears, go lax! And again please feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

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A Whale of a Time

(Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Hello everyone and happy New Year! We just got back to school for MAP week, which is a week of re-adjustment to the Academy, which includes military and academic trainings. I am more than excited to be back and loved seeing all my friends again, although the adjustment is never easy.

Anyhow, I worked all winter break on my directed study project, which is a literature review for the Mystic Aquarium on stress physiology in marine mammals (just a Marine and Environmental Sciences major thing). Essentially, I have been reading what feels like a million very complicated and ‘sciency’ papers about endocrinology and stress in whales, dolphins, and sea lions. I can’t wait to present my findings to the aquarium in a couple of weeks, but I am so, so nervous!

The study has been a bit of added-on work this past semester, but it is more than worth it. I have had the incredible opportunity to visit the aquarium a few times, as well as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute out on Cape Cod. Additionally, my work for the aquarium has allowed me to get in the enclosure with the beluga whales! It really has been a dream come true. In November, I worked with a few scientists from Woods Hole doing acoustics, or sound testing, on Kela, who is Mystic’s female beluga. The experiment was very successful and a lot of important data was collected concerning the whale’s brain activity and ability to hear/interpret sound. I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store and look forward to continuing my work with the aquarium and the whales. Don’t worry, I “whale” be sure to keep you all updated…haha!

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What Will I Bring to This Unique Program?

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

My name is Cecelia Hosley and I am a 3/c cadet here at the Academy. I grew up in Chester, Connecticut and attended the Marine Science Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut. I would love to bring my passion for marine science, and the MES major to the Cadet Blog program.

I have wanted to be a marine biologist for as long as I can remember, sparked by my love of the sea while spending my summers on Martha’s Vineyard. When I was a junior in high school, Admiral Stosz, Academy Superintendent at the time, visited the school and I had the honor of showing her around. Learning about the Academy from her perspective as well as hearing about her leadership style and the opportunities in the Coast Guard made up my mind and I have been very happy with my decision.

I am thrilled to pursue a career in marine biology in the Coast Guard and have begun a directed study on orca whale populations in Puget Sound! I am also a member of the Equestrian Club and Women’s Leadership Council in addition to being a part of the Coast Guard Academy’s first-ever varsity women’s lacrosse team. Go Bears! Having been in the Coast Guard only one year I have already been blessed with some amazing opportunities and experiences such as my directed study topic, traveling to Hawaii and Bermuda, and sailing America’s tall ship, USCGC Eagle. I would love to share my experiences while I am here. It is an honor to be a voice for the United States Coast Guard Academy through the Cadet Blog program.

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