Jesse KirkAs a student in the Rutgers Camden School of Business, I am only required to take one science class. A friend of mine sent me an email about this class and I knew I could not let this slip away. I have never been a fan of learning from a textbook, and this class was the exact opposite of that. The class started off very easy going. The first day mainly consisted of exploring the ecosystem and getting comfortable with snorkeling. For someone that was not very advanced with marine biology, I found the first day very helpful as we did not focus on getting right into tasks but more on observations. I knew this trip was going to be eventful after the first hour or so of being in the water because before I knew it Dr. Vagelli had already wrestled and caught a 3-4 foot nurse shark.

Doc caught a plethora of creatures during this trip and made sure to have us all gather around it to get a first hand look at it. Some of the things he captured were sharks, octopuses, conchs, batfish, and pufferfish. We were able to see all of the features of these creatures and how they reacted and swam after releasing them. After finishing in the water, we would have some days where lab would take place. We dissected a fish and looked at various things under the microscope. One of the things we examined were polychaetes. I had never heard or seen these before, but after hearing Doc give lectures about these, I feel like an expert on them. Other assignments we completed were tagging lobster and tracking what sponges they moved to and also identifying aquatic life using identification cards on our transect.

Even though I am not as knowledgeable as some of the other students on the trip when it comes to marine ecology, I still learned a great deal of information. This class did more than just teach me things. It changed my perception of being in the water. I used to be hesitant about going in the ocean because of all of the dangers of it. But now after seeing how so many creatures are afraid of us instead of vice versa, I have little fear of going right in the water. In fact, since I have gotten home from the trip I have started fishing more often and swimming in more lakes. Experiential learning trips should be offered a lot more than they are. It is something that cannot be compared to a class in a room. My initial reason for taking this class was to fulfill my science requirement, but it turned out not to only be the greatest class I have ever taken, but the greatest week of my life.