John Steinbeck and I share a ardour for 3 issues: writing, marine biology and Monterey Bay. Earlier than coming to Stanford, I had no concept that the Hopkins Marine Station (HMS) in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula even existed — not to mention that the 11-acre analysis facility impressed a lot of my favourite creator’s brief tales and novels, together with “Cannery Row” and the “Sea of Cortez.”
All through my freshman yr, I’ve had the privilege to go to Hopkins by means of two introductory seminars (IntroSems) in marine biology, BIO 12N: “The Sensory Ecology of Marine Animals” and OCEANS 6N: “Ocean Conservation: Pathways to Options.” It takes about two hours of driving from campus to achieve Monterey through a scenic route encompassing the Gabilan and Sierra de Salinas mountain ranges.
As a testomony to the transformative energy of the IntroSem program, my experiences past the Stanford bubble and alongside the shoreline have sparked my curiosity for oceanography, in addition to marine conservation.
A spotlight of my journeys has been the wealth of immersive, revolutionary analysis prospects supplied past Stanford’s predominant campus. With its magnificent panorama and biodiversity, Monterey represents a pure laboratory of unparalleled alternatives for studying, commentary and discovery. College students even have the possibility to work in historic amenities, such because the Alexander Agassiz Laboratory. The Harold A. Miller Library is one other particular gem, harboring supplies equivalent to Ed Ricketts’ annotated notes on marine life.
The city of Monterey itself is superbly vibrant, full of quaint pastel-colored storefronts which can be interconnected by walkways that when facilitated entry between cannery factories. There are additionally a wide range of paths winding alongside the shore, and the world gives among the most breathtaking views alongside the Northern California shoreline. My favourite spot is Previous Fisherman’s Wharf, the place I like to recommend having fun with a sandwich from Ike’s whereas watching sea lions laid out on the rocks, absorbing the sunshine.
A centerpiece of any go to to Monterey is the world-famous aquarium, which was based by David and Lucille Packard in 1984 rather than an deserted sardine cannery. Our class acquired a non-public tour of the aquarium’s operations and tools, replete with entertaining anecdotes in addition to the chance to the touch dwell jellyfish and work together with divers. Whereas exploring the aquarium’s vary of reveals and organisms is itself thrilling, witnessing the experience and expertise concerned behind the scenes solely enriched my go to.
I additionally extremely advocate embarking on a visit with the Monterey Bay Whale Watch. Throughout our three-hour boat trip, we noticed a wide range of marine life, together with grey whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and sea otters. As my first time seeing these majestic creatures, the expertise felt much like how I’d think about early explorers reacted to the marvels of the ocean millenia in the past.
Standing on the prow of the boat, with the salty wind whipping again my hair and water spraying my face, watching the horizon open indefinitely earlier than me, I felt my abdomen drop a number of instances throughout an exhilarating journey that felt very like a pure curler coaster. Memorably, I additionally bonded with my classmates as we uniquely skilled a way of collective instability alongside the thrills of cresting six to eight foot waves.
Maybe in probably the most direct method potential, this expedition enabled me to attach with nature by experiencing the profound energy and serenity of the open ocean. Embracing the uncertainty of the waves and the enchantment of the unknown, I felt transported in time to an period of discovery, charting in the direction of the way forward for exploration.
It’s experiences like these that can’t be replicated within the classroom — and Monterey Bay is crucial in enabling the extraordinary marvel of unlocking centuries of ocean information and discovery, together with offering a possibility for self-realization.