Tsunami Watch in the Pacific North West

By Steph Trott S11

Hey there, strangers! S’11 is back from an amazing (and highly memorable!) field seminar in the Pacific Northwest, where we spent a week road-tripping up and down the breathtaking Washington and Oregon coastline. Some highlights include seeing over 150 sea lions at the Sea Lion Caves in Florence, seeing the botanical gardens at Shore Acres, looking at Seattle from the top of the Space Needle, and cruising the Seattle harbor on a Crowley Tug!

Aside from the amazing scenery and events, one of my favorite parts about this field seminar was getting to know my classmates, faculty, and staff on an entirely new level. Spending 10 days aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer was unique in that I was living with and learning about a group of people I had known for approximately one week. In the case of the Pacific Northwest field seminar, we had spent over a month together and were more comfortable as a group. I really enjoyed riding with a new group of people each day; not only did we listen to some pretty excellent mix CD’s, we had time to ask questions to each other and learn more about each others’ backgrounds and goals for the remainder of the semester.


I also loved the spontaneity involved in this experience: I’m someone who likes to plan out every detail of every day, and I had to put my trust into the hands of our fabulous faculty and staff. Some of the best and most unexpected moments include blowing off some steam on a playground in Cannon Beach, swimming in the Pacific Ocean next to Haystack Rock, touring the Tillamook Cheese Factory, and doing the Banana Dance at one of our rest stops.

As you’ve undoubtedly read or heard about, S’11 also experienced the effects of a tsunami while out on the West Coast. We were staying at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) in Charleston, which is about 4 hours outside of Portland. We had settled into the dorms on Thursday evening, only to be awoken by 2 alarms at 1:15am and 3:30am. We mustered in the mess hall at the OIMB where we received instructions for evacuation. Following two hours of not-so-restful sleep, we packed up and left the OIMB in favor of higher ground at 5:30am.

It was wrenching to watch the earthquake’s destruction happening in Japan; we were experiencing something that happened as a direct result of the earthquake, yet there was little we could do to help. Being together as a group not only provided safety, but also forged a bond among our class that few others could understand. Our class has stood dawn watches aboard Cramer, and now has the distinction of saying we’ve stood a Tsumani Watch!

Right now I’m sitting in the library at the Marine Science Center, which we lovingly call the MSC. Oceanography, the science class I’m taking this semester, has just finished and my classmates enrolled in Marine Ecology are beginning to stroll in for their class. One of the great things about the MSC is that there’s always something going on – students do their work here, hang out on the amazingly comfortable couches, work in the lab, or check out bikes from the garage. It’s also about a stone’s throw from my house, making the MSC a prime retreat for my housemates and me.

Other places students can be found around the Williams-Mystic campus include the Keener Room in Labaree House and Sturges Cottage. The Keener Room gets a ton of natural light and contains several daily newspapers along with boating and maritime-related magazines, making it a prime place to go if you’re looking to quietly unwind. Sturges Cottage contains exercise gear, a bunch of board games, a gaming system, and a large-screen television. We’ve had a few movie nights in there, along with some pretty epic foosball games!

Today we had a guest lecturer speak in Marine Policy about wetlands and their vitality for coastline communities. I’m looking forward to the weekend, which along with some downtime will involve some paper writing for Literature of the Sea along with research for my Oceanography project. I’m also hoping to head into town on Sunday for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but we’ll see how much work gets done by then J

Fair Winds!

Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

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