About the Writer:

Jade Knowles, a 2017 Deep Creek Middle School alumna, spent her summer working as a Climate Change Research Apprentice at The Island School. She is from Nassau, The Bahamas, but has been a part of the Eleuthera community since she was 11 years old, living in Tarpum Bay. She currently studies at Chapman University in Orange County, California, majoring in political science and possibly going into law. Speaking to her motivations for undertaking the apprenticeship, Jade shares:

“I have always had a passion for social justice in all of its forms, which is why I applied to be a Climate Change Research Apprentice at The Island School with Marjahn Finlayson.”

Portrait of Climate Change Research Apprentice Jade Knowles.

Besides her love for political science, Jade engages in the arts through acting. She recently joined an improv group known as “Improv Inc” and hopes to add acting as an additional major. Before Chapman, she worked closely alongside Guinevere Hilton, the Head of the Arts Department at her former high school Brewster Academy to direct and carry out annual winter musicals for the school and town community to enjoy. While at home, she hopes to expand her knowledge on the relationship between climate change and systemic oppression in The Bahamas.

Field Notes from Glider Launch Day:

The launch day of the glider was a fascinating, but very exhausting experience. We left The Island School boathouse at 7:30 AM, and I think none of us was expecting what was to come. Blair, our boat captain, rode us an hour and thirty minutes away from campus, from one end of Eleuthera’s fishtail to the other. Once over the ocean bridge and in the Atlantic, the ride became bumpy as the swells were bigger than I was comfortable with.

Once we arrived at the designated drop-off spot, Dr. Nick Higgs and other glider team members got the glider ready for departure. The sea glider is an automated drone that can dive down to 1,000 meters! First, we dropped the glider into the water, then it took 10-15 minutes for it to fill up with water and be able to descend. To ensure that everything was working, we had to allow the machine to take a 20-minute dive to a certain depth and return to the surface afterwards.

Marjahn Finlayson (right) with members of the glider team on launch day.

When the glider ascended for the first time, our partners from the University of Miami, who were piloting the glider, asked us to allow the machine to take another dive. Something was wrong. After about 30-45 minutes of waiting, the glider resurfaced, but there was still an issue: some readings were off. At this point, we had been on the boat for 4 going on 5 hours. We had to recover the glider from the ocean, put it back on the boat and call pilots in Miami on the satellite phone to do some re-coding. This process took up another hour. 

Finally, the glider was ready to be sent in the water for the last time! We repeated the process: send-off, submersion, dive, resurfacing. This time, it went smoothly. The ride back was better and our 11-man crew was relieved and thankful for the success.

Research staff prepare the glider for deployment off the southern tip of Eleuthera.

The glider, fondly known by Marjahn and Dr. Higgs as “Goombay the Glider”, will be left in the Atlantic Ocean for four months, during the peak of hurricane season. While in the water, it will collect data such as sea surface temperature and salinity levels to determine if these factors are affecting the intensity of hurricanes and how quickly they intensify. 

All in all, would I recommend this trip? No. Science, especially Marine Science, requires a lot of patience and perseverance, so it may not be for everybody. However, I am so grateful for the experience. It is not every day that you get to be a part of or witness such important research taking place. Most research put into practice never goes as planned, so learning how to think differently in the face of adversity is a lesson I took away from the trip.

This blog was written in July 2022. To learn more about our apprentice program, click here.