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Posted April 6, 2016 by
Tags: My Wheaton Global and Experiential Learning

Maritime Meditations: Marine Biology at Wheaton and Beyond

Diving Maritime under water Ari

Oceanographer Paul Snelgrove once said, “We know more about the surface of the moon and about mars than we do our own oceans.” I’ve heard this quote a lot throughout my 20 years of life, but I’ve never given it much thought. As a California kid that grew up right next to the ocean, I found it a familiar place. There was comfort in the exploration of tide pools, in hearing the waves break onto the shore, and in the feeling of beach grunge hair.

However spring break of my junior year, I found myself in South Water Caye, Belize on a weeklong trip for my marine biology course. The water looked similar to my Californian surf, but the hues were more vibrant, ranging from the deep, majestic blue of the open sea to the brilliant turquoise of the reef zones. Yet nothing could prepare me for what we found under the surface! 
Every day we would set out on multiple snorkel trips into the incredible Belize reef (the second largest barrier reef behind the Great Barrier Reef). The coral mounds were teeming with organisms of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Hidden treasures could be found between the blades of the sea-grass beds, and we would often find a stingray lazily gliding across the expanse of the sand flats. We learned so much about the complexities of this one marine ecosystem over the span of those seven days, and yet I would find myself completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge that we did not explore.

 As scientists, we hunt for answers and explanations to the endless mysteries that compose this complex planet we call home. Often times, however, we become caught up in our work. We neglect to step back and take in the wonder of what we’re studying. Yet, dipping under the waves, this hidden aquatic world is silent: I couldn’t even hear my own breath. As I drifted, weightless, down to the seafloor, I tried to take in as much of the splendor as I could. I clung to every second, knowing that I only had as much time as my lungs would allow. Psalm 46 became alive-- I found myself in a complete state of serenity. In this paradise, just for a few moments, I allowed myself to be overtaken by the raw beauty of Creation. Be still and know that I am God, the Creator of all, who founded the seas and established it on the waters. Selah.

Ari Kim ’17 is a biology major who traveled to Belize with Wheaton’s marine biology program this past spring break. To learn more about Wheaton’s biology major and study abroad opportunities, visit their respective websites. For more photos of the trip, click here.

Photo Captions: Ari diving; Ari takes a photo with her GoPro after scuba-diving; faculty including  Dr. Raymond Lewis, associate professor of biology, examine specimens in the make-shift lab; a photo of the Belize reef.