At home, thunder and lightning doesn’t bother me. In fact, I kind of like it. It’s cool to watch and experience from the safety of my home or another solid building. Here at The Island School you never know where you’re going to be when a thunderstorm hits. You could be in the dorms, the dining hall, out in the field, or out on kayak.. Watching from the dining hall or the dorms can be fun. Watching storms while on kayak trips or out in the field is less fun but much more of an adventure.
This past Monday I was out in the field catching and tagging rays with my research team. Seas were choppy as we headed out on the boat to our research site and in the distance you could see the storm clouds rolling in. Eventually I was dropped off to investigate a bit of sediment that was kicked up. It was hard to tell whether or not it was a ray simply because it was so big. Pretty soon I figured it out though. It was a huge ray, the biggest we have caught yet. We used both a barrier net and black hand nets but this ray could barely fit. As we caught the ray and secured its barb we felt rain begin to sprinkle. By the time we started taking measurements of the ray it was pouring and Nick, an Island School teacher, and Owen, our research advisor, were counting the seconds between thunder and lightning. More than 30 seconds. We were in the clear just then but kept counting.
I had to run to the boat to get a notebook and sprinted the whole way. The water kept getting deeper and by the time I reached the boat it was up to my waist. I grabbed the notebook and started back, I have never been more scared in my entire life. We continued counting the lightning and the gaps were shorter and shorter. Finally we released the ray and everyone started sprinting back to the boat. We all reached it safely. It was a huge relief but adrenaline was still pumping through us. The five students all sat in the front of the boat facing each other. We talked and laughed and relived the moment that had just past. I realized the experience had brought us closer as a research group and taught us the power of mother nature.
For more photos of stingray and lightning adventures, follow our research team’s activities on the Island School Flickr page!