Research by the Ocean – My Internship Experience

My name is Jacob Watson and I am a student at the University of Maine who learned about the Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Conservation Internship program through a career fair at my school. 

I was fortunate enough to be offered a position with Wells Reserve at Laudholm in Wells, Maine, which is a beautiful area located near some of the best beaches in the state! 

Keeping it interesting

My experience this summer working as an intern for Maine Coast Heritage Trust at the Wells Reserve has been incredible. 

I have had the opportunity to work on a number of different projects and have already learned so much. From being in charge of a large soundscape ecology project to helping maintain trails and checking water quality for lab testing—the wide range of work I have been involved in is simply awesome and keeps my job very exciting. 

To my surprise, many of my days involve interacting with people and I can say that I have picked up many useful skills when it comes to communicating clearly and efficiently.

Jacob measures salinity and depth of pools at Wells Reserve.

Supporting soundscape ecology research

The main project that I have worked on focuses on soundscape ecology and how certain noises impact wildlife and the ecosystem. My supervisor, Sue Bickford, is leading this work and has been an excellent guide for me throughout the summer. 

The project involves six sound boxes, which are located throughout the Wells Reserve, and the noises these devices record. Soundscape ecology is the study of the acoustic relationships between living organisms (both human and other) and their environment. 

The sound boxes record for several minutes every hour, for a week at a time, giving us a plethora of data to work with. The batteries and SD cards must switched frequently and the data needs to be processed and organized before research can begin. 

This is an exciting, new science that involves the latest technology and will provide important information to help answer questions such as: How do human made noises impact bird species living on the estuary? Or, at what point do certain wildlife produce the most sounds and why? Soundscape ecology will continue to help solve these and other mysteries.

Making strong connections with co-workers

The most enjoyable aspect of being an MCHT intern for me has been the connections I’ve made with my coworkers and the people involved in research. Working on different projects, I have met many different people who have all been great and a joy to work with. The team at Wells is excellent and the research environment plus quality of the organization speaks volumes about the professionalism that exists there. 

Overall, this summer has been one that I will never forget and I have learned many valuable skills. I am super excited to share everything I have done with my fellow MCHT interns at the end of the summer and look forward to the remainder of this work season. 

I would like to thank Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Wells Reserve, and everybody that I have worked with this summer for the opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment and the beautiful state of Maine. Thank you.

Jacob Watson is one of ten 2019 Maine Coast Heritage Trust Conservation Interns. This summer he’s working with Wells Reserve at Laudholm.