NWPacking Project How to Pack Enough HotHands to Prevent Cold Feet

Tristan Rivera Student Posts 2 Comments

Two Suitcases and Muck Boots
HotHands in Suitcase

I packed a lot of toe and hand warmers just in case I get really cold

There is only one more morning separating me from my plane flight to New York! At around 11am on Monday, I’m going to be flying first to Philadelphia, then to Newburgh, where I’ll meet everyone in person for the first time. It’s been very surreal these past few months that I’ve known that I’ve been accepted as a participant with the Northwest Passage Project (NWP Project), but now I think I’m at a point where I’ve talked about it so much with other people that it’s become a part of my daily life now. So I think I’m ready to go ahead and embark when the time comes!

I’m nervous about meeting all these new people at once. And I’m also unsure of what I can bring to the crew besides a pair of fresh eyes, but my science group leaders, Jacob Strock and Zak Kerrigan, have been preparing me and my classmates by sending out some hefty readings on zooplankton. Who knew that, in the Arctic, phytoplankton actually preferred to live underneath fresh ice sheets rather than in the open water? I didn’t until just a few weeks ago, and I also didn’t realize how abundant and complex the interactions between microscopic life can get. From salps to krill, I’m already being introduced to the wild world that lives on an extremely small scale. (Salps are a jellylike tunicate that connect like chains and are on the larger end of the spectrum of planktonic species.)

I love wildlife and have spent a lot of of my childhood exploring the wilderness around my home. This is where I learned to respect the creatures that I could see and hear living within my own dojo. It’s a shared space we all live in! I attend VCU in Richmond and so I was very excited to start looking at insects under microscopes to observe those fine details that are usually hard to see.

pelagic food web connecting plankton and carbon

This is a simplified overview of the planktonic food web depicting a flow of carbon within the open ocean (2017, Steinberg & Landry).

Going even smaller, I’ve learned, gets even more interesting. My previous biology lab allowed me to see a common paramecium living within pond water. I couldn’t believe my eyes because it was sitting so still, just letting me watch it live. These are the things that get me fired up for this trip! I know I will learn a lot and I hope everyone has a lot of fun.

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