A personal experience report by Drew McCarthy, Barrington, NS
The Gulf Of Maine Institute (GOMI) Summer Conference, July 2nd to 8th, 2011, was an amazing experience. It taught me so much more about the wildlife and environment in the Gulf of Maine region. I improved on my communication skills, learned a lot about teamwork, and made new friends from Atlantic Canada and New England.
At GOMI, we are placed in “theme teams” which each study and work with a particular subject such as Water Quality, Human Impact, Photography, etc… I was in “Invasive Species” which focused on species that come from their native land and take over another native species’ territory. This is a growing problem because the invaders take space, water, nutrients, and sometimes block out sun from the original plants, and the native plants cant grow properly.
We went to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and learned about invasive species there, and the problems they have with them. Some invasive plants they have are Pepperweed, Purple Loosestrife, Phragmites, Japanese Knot weed, and many more. We focused primarily on the Purple Loosestrife, a highly invasive plant in the area. We rooted a patch of Purple Loosestrife one day near Salisbury beach.
All of us went out on a tour boat in the Newburyport harbour. We learned about Newburyport’s heritage and economic history. We also learned about the Merrimack River which runs out of the harbour. The Merrimack is a watershed of the Gulf of Maine. We sailed by Joppa Flats, and the Plum Island River marsh, which is a wetland that has many different species.
Wetlands and estuaries are a home to thousands of species, and play an important role in species’ survival, including us humans. Over the course of the week, we received numerous presentations from scientists studying in Antarctica, Gulf of Maine whale experts, global warming enthusiasts, and volunteers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
We students also made presentations about what we learned and acknowledged. We went on a tight-rope course, in which we used our balance, teamwork, and communicating skills. Our team successfully completed the course, with the help of our instructor. We had a lot of fun and took value in working together and getting along with one another.
GOMI was a spectacular adventure and a great learning experience. It was a load of fun and shared more awareness toward the environmental status in the Gulf of Maine and its bioregion. It shows us that two nations can come together and work together to revive a bioregion and restore mother nature’s habitat. GOMI was awesome and I can’t wait to go again!