Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Summer is coming... time to hear from our new interns!

Welcome to 2013! Like last year, we are very excited about and proud of our interns. They come to Rozalia Project from a variety of backgrounds, hometowns and colleges. They also come to us for a variety of reasons. This is the first in a series of twice weekly intern blog posts where our new interns will introduce themselves and tell us why they came to Rozalia Project. Check this blog every Monday and Thursday to meet a new intern as we get closer and closer to boarding American Promise and kicking off Mission Atlantic and Rozalia Project's cleanup, education and research this summer!

Our first intern in this series is Alyssa Lefebvre, a junior and Marine Biology major at the Florida Institute of Technology. Alyssa had a recent adventure SCUBA diving for trash as part of a Project Aware underwater cleanup!

If you are anything like me, it is likely that you are able to ramble out several ocean based facts such as, the oceans make up 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water, however roughly a 5% of these waters have been explored.  While I never was one for statistics, stats such as these catch my attention and tend to make me wonder.  If you are privileged to be SCUBA certified, (as I hope many of you get the chance to be one day) stop and think of all of the breathtaking places you have gone diving.  If you are more experienced, your list may go on and on.  But if you are somewhat new to the diving world, like am I, you may only be able to list a handful.  Regardless your number, realize that if at any point you think you have seen it all; remind yourself, with these percentages above, that you have come nowhere near seeing all that is out there.

My name is Alyssa Lefebvre, and I am thankful to be a part of the Rozalia Project’s 2013 internship crew.  I spent the first 18 years of my life living in Worcester, MA which is not far from Boston and the New England Aquarium.  Throughout my childhood, numerous trips to that aquarium were made and with each visit my passion for the oceans and its majestic creatures, grew.  For the past 3 years I have attended Florida Institute of Technology as I am pursuing a degree in Marine Biology.  Growing up in the north, the moment I moved to Florida it truly seemed like paradise.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) stop staring at all of the birds, the palm trees, the fish.  And the trash.

With beaches being mere miles away from my institution, I hate to admit to my parents that some days more of my time is spent on the beaches than in class.  However, the time I spend on the beach, I look for any obvious debris caught in the dunes or that have washed onshore.  Initially the large amounts of solo cups and McDonald’s wrappers astonished and disgusted me.  I had to remind myself that not everyone cares as much as some of us do.  I began picking up pieces of trash as I walked back to my car and quickly noticed that people saw what I was doing.  Many would approach me and commend my actions.  It was one day in particular, I turned around only to see a friend of mine picking up a piece of trash several steps out of our path, and glancing back at me with a smile.  At that moment I realized every person’s actions do matter.

As a member of the SCUBA club on campus, I help organize dives and take suggestions from fellow divers.  Dive Against Debris is a cleanup project organized by Project Aware which began in 1993.  They focus not only on having divers remove any pervasive debris that contaminates the reefs and sandy bottoms below, but they also require information that describes the underwater perspective to the problem and helps document underwater impacts of marine debris.  In February, I was able to participate in my first ever Dive Against Debris, and that led me to reach out to the Rozalia Project in hopes of being a part of their team.

Tires, golf balls, plastic bags and silverware all littered the reefs off the coast of Pompano, FL the day of our dive.  The group of us worked collectively to pick up the junk that had not yet become filled with marine invertebrates.  We piled the junk into our mesh bags which quickly became weighed down.  Not only did the vast amount of garbage fill me with the disgust and desire to never litter into the oceans, but also the amount of work it took to drag the heavy tires up to the surface from 40 feet below, helped me decide that no one should ever have to work this hard to keep our earth clean.

The Rozalia Project advocates that any action a person takes to help the ocean and the environment is important, and after getting the chance to see it and help clean it first hand, I fully supported it and wished to be a part of it.  No matter how big or how small, I want to help spread the idea that every action you partake in, truly does matter.  Let’s make actions as contagious as smiles.

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