Iver Earns an Easy A !

The senior seminar class visited Hammonasset Beach State Park today to learn about conservation practices in one of Connecticut’s busiest state park. We got a little introduction to the park by Henry Alves, the Park and Recreation Supervisor at Hammonasset. Afterwards we went to Cedar Island to look for one of the three snow owls that are currently in the park. Nope, we didn’t see any, but learned about salt marshes, glacial moraines etc.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the way back Iver decided to show us his manly side and, for an easy A, did the polar bear plunge:

And, yes, I must have missed that fashion trend:

ENVS 275 Students Present Research on Hartford’s Park River

ENVS_275_presentations(by C.Douglass and J. Morrison)
Building on the ENVS program’s long-term research along the Park River in Hartford, this year’s Methods in Environmental Science students have once again developed, designed, and carried out their own studies – which they presented this week.  Research focused on a section of the south branch of the Park River where the CT DEEP will begin a massive re-channelization project in spring 2014 that will remove vegetation and sediment from the channel.  Students’ research covered topics ranging from determining concentrations of mercury and trace metals in stream sediments to evaluating temporal changes in pH and stream discharge. On land, students compared soil organic carbon levels and invertebrate species diversity between stands of the invasive plant Japanese knotweed and within plant communities dominated by goldenrods and other native forbs.

Summer 2014 – Fieldtrip to Iceland

First Announcement
when: June 13th – 25th 2014
ENVS 350 – 0.5cr (creditable towards the ENVS major)
67 sun and clouds - and wind, Torfajökull

We will spend 10 days in Iceland visiting Reykjavik, Thingvellir, the Geysir geothermal field, and hiking the Laugavegur, one of the most amazing hiking trails in Iceland. Accommodations will be in tents and mountain huts. On the trip we’ll experience breathtaking landscapes, learn about geology and soak in natural hot springs. The course will meet weekly during the spring semester for discussions on Iceland’s ecology, seminar topics, course structure and trip details, and will conclude with the ten-day backpacking trip to Iceland. The trip will begin and end in Boston.04 Group at GeisirCost of the trip:
$800.00 plus the cost of airfare (currently $750.00).
Cost includes accommodation, local transportation and meals during the backpacking portion of the trip. You will cover the costs for your own food while we stay in Reykjavik at the beginning and end of the trip.

12 towards FimmvörðuhalsHow to sign up:

Submit a half-page statement to Prof. Christoph Geiss introducing yourself and telling us why you want to go on this trip. Sign-up is by instructor permission only.

Upon registration we require payment of $1000.00 by December 15th. This first payment is to cover the cost of airfare and local transportation and is likely not refundable. If you have to cancel the trip we will try to cancel your airline ticket and refund you any refund we receive. If you sign up for the course later than Dec. 15th we ask for your down payment within a week of sign-up, and your payment may be higher.
Full payment (airfare plus $800) is due by March 31st (check payable to Trinity ENVS).
27 hike through the steaming lava fields

Equipment Needed:
ENVS has the tents and a limited supply of sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacks etc. You will need good boots, rain gear and general hiking equipment (we’ll get you a list of equipment in January)
05 the kings of the dog world - Pylsuvagninn LaugardalDo I need to be in shape?
It definitely helps. You’ll be hiking for seven days with a heavy backpack over a distance of approximately 50 miles. Always remember: your instructors are twice your age and have had desk jobs for decades. So, if they can do it …
07 Reykjavik sunset - at 10 PMCan alumni go?
Absolutely. We might have to charge you a few bucks extra for insurance, but that’s about it… and – since you don’t have to do any work we’ll make you carry tons of extra gear.
20 Fimmvörðuskáli in the mistFor pictures from our last trip click here.
For additional information on the trip – follow this blog.
DSC_4602_DxOWill it be awesome? – absolutely!


ENVS Students Test the Waters: Worldwide

By guest blogger Joan Morrison:Once again, our majors have been called upon to conduct some serious testing of waters in China, Cambodia, and Laos, on the summer study abroad program “River Cities of Asia.”  Well, not called upon by the governments (not yet anyway!) but by professors leading our trip.  Renee, Sakile, Rose and Shaina can show you how it’s done and even look like they’re having fun testing the muddy Mekong!

ENVS Senior Seminar Field Trip to Cape Cod

by guest blogger (novelist) Joan Morrison

See what too much fresh air can do to you?

The final event of the Spring 2013 ENVS senior seminar, which focused on aquaculture, was a trip to Cape Cod to learn about shellfish production there.  All senior ENVS majors and minors, along with ENVS professors Morrison and Gray drove to the Cape on the last weekend in April.  Our host was Ryan Burch, a Trinity alum (’98) and shellfish specialist who now lives in and works for the Town of Brewster, MA.

Dinner at Ryan and Juliet's house. Thank you!

Upon our arrival on the Cape on Friday night, Ryan and his wife Juliet generously hosted us at their home, for a wonderful dinner of tortilla soup.  And the fruit-dip dessert was extra special because of the secret ingredient (we know but are not telling)!  Some of the older ENVS sleeping bags proved to be less than sufficient during our cold night at Sweetwater Forest Campground, but when we awoke, Sam and Saam quickly took care of the morning chill by successfully starting a roaring fire despite really damp wood.  Breakfast was eagerly consumed by cold and hungry students.

Frosty breakfast at Sweetwater Forest Campground.

Everyone was so efficient that we were already packed and ready to go when Ryan arrived at our campsite at 0700 on Saturday morning.  First stop, the tidal flats at the Town of Brewster to visit the town’s shellfish farm, which Ryan oversees.  The beach and tidal flats were spectacular at that hour and given the really low tide.  Ryan showed us the cages where larger oysters were growing out, students marveled at the variety of interesting creatures present on the tidal flats, and Ned scared us all with a giant sea worm.

Across the tidal flats.

After the tidal flats the java and breakfast sandwiches at Brewster’s premier coffee shop, Jomama’s, were mighty welcome.  From there we drove out of Brewster for a tour of the hatchery at the Aquaculture Research Center.  This facility produces most of the shellfish used in aquaculture on Cape Cod, as well as the small shellfish used by towns for seeding operations.  Manager Dick Kraus showed us tanks where oyster larvae were growing and explained how the largest and most complicated part of their business was growing the food that the shellfish larvae eat. Those little guys go through enormous amounts of diatoms and phytoplankton, daily!

Tanks with oyster larvae - Aquaculture Research Center (ARC)

The sobering complexities of a local environmental issue really hit home when Dick told us about the controversy over ARC’s desire to erect a wind turbine to provide power.  A turbine would help reduce the hatchery’s current $5000 per month electric bill, which Dick said is really putting pressure on their business.  However, to date, local residents have prevented the wind turbine mostly because of concerns about having to look at it.  Local shellfish producers are really concerned about the future of ARC as the main supplier of oyster and quahog seed on the Cape; “No more ARC would mean the end of aquaculture on Cape Cod,” one local fisherman said. “It’s really an essential thing for aquaculture.”

Oyster food - ARC

on the beach again


Sam taking notes for the non-existent final exam

oyster cages

Following a short drive along the beautiful southern Cape beaches, we stopped at the harbormaster’s facility in Chatham, where the Aquaculture Specialist for the Town’s Shellfish Department provided information about the next step in producing shellfish – the land-based upwellers.


After a delicious lunch of clam strips and onion rings, we visited the final stop on our tour – the Wellfleet Shellfish Company.  There, manager Ron gave us an overview of what happens to all the clams, oysters, and scallops that are brought to his facility and amazed us with his mastery at keeping track of who brought in what, who ordered shellfish and when they wanted delivery, and the ever changing prices.

Watching shellfish in a monitoring tank - Wellfleet Shellfish Company

The clam sorter was particularly cool – as random clams were fed into the contraption they were sorted, by size, by several whirling cylinders of different diameter (go figure how THAT works!) and dropped unceremoniously into various bins – little necks, cherry stones, top neck, and quahog.  Wonder who invented that one but it sure is efficient!  Finally, after a hard day of watching oysters grow, we made a welcome stop at Coast Guard Beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore, where students took advantage of the sun and warm sand.  What a great trip!  Aside from learning about all steps involved in raising shellfish on the Cape, we sure had fun!

All pooped out!


ENVS 149 Class Samples the Mt Hope River for Macroinvertebrates

by guest blogger Jonathan Gourley

Last week’s intro lab featured aquatic insect collection at the Mt. Hope River, a rite of passage for all ENVS students.  We were lucky with great weather for both Tuesday and Thursday and river conditions were ideal for collecting bugs.  Patrick “Hoagie” Hoagland perfected the kick net technique now known as the Hoagie Shuffle.

Sarah and Lauren in the Mt.Hope river

Thursday’s section was especially into taking photographs.  Sarah Black and Lauren Tierney demonstrated the usefulness of chest waders because who knows when you will step into a deep hole!  As usual, several students learned the hard way and borrowed old rubber hip waders from the ENVS stock…holes and wet socks were inevitable!  Both sections collected excellent sample populations and fun was had by all.

The Thursday lab section of ENVS 149 class in the Mt. Hope river - prepared to do serious work...

... yeah sure.

Ryan Burch ’98 Introduces Senior Seminar Students to Aquaculture

Ryan Burch '98Ryan Burch ’98

Ryan Burch, who graduated from Trinity in 1998 (long before we had an ENVS program) learned about Environmental Science at Trinity after seeing a picture of our recent Iceland trip in the Trinity Reporter (this one). So last fall he picked up the phone and called me up, offering his help with the program. Ryan now works for the harbor master’s office in Brewster, MA and invited us to come out to the Cape for a visit.

Yesterday evening Ryan gave a talk on shellfish aquaculture to our senior seminar. He introduced us to all stages of the shellfish farming process, from obtaining the proper permits to harvest and sale of the grown product 3 to 6 years later.

Of course, no lecture on shellfish is complete without a little tasting. Here Ryyan shows how to shuck an oyster:

and less than a few minutes later we got to try it ourselves:
What a way to end the day!