Shedd trip gives Deerfield junior marine experience
Carly Goodman, a Deerfield High School junior, (left) was able to try her hand at marine biology after being chosen by the Shedd Aquarium for a trip to the Bimini Islands to sample the field. Working with her is Deja Perkins of Chicago.\Courtesy Carly Goodman
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:30AM
Carly Goodman, a 17-year-old Deerfield High School junior, may have just taken the most important trip of her life.
Goodman, who is considering becoming a marine biologist, just returned from the Bimini Islands in the Bahamas. While there, she participated in a field intensive program presented by the Shedd Aquarium to find out if marine biology is the profession for her.
No one in Goodman’s family is engaged in this kind of work. Her mother, Mary Goodman, is a stay-at-home mom, while her father, Larry Goodman, is a manager at Marcello’s Father and Son Restaurant in Northbrook.
But marine biology has fascinated Goodman since she was a child. Born in Chicago, Goodman lived in the Lincoln Park neighborhood for a short while before moving to Deerfield. When she was old enough, she offered to volunteer at the Shedd, where her curiosity deepened.
That’s how she learned about becoming a part of the Shedd’s High School Marine Biology program, for teens interested in marine biology, aquatic science or field research.
She had to write essays, bring a teacher’s endorsement, then pass a personal interview. Once selected, she became one of 20 students selected to voyage aboard Shedd’s 80-foot research vessel, the R/V Coral Reef II, during spring break.
Goodman first attended pre-trip sessions in March at the Shedd in Chicago.
“We met the other kids, did a lot of group exercises, team building exercises and designed our research projects,” Goodman said. “Four people were assigned to each project, and mine was determining if development on land had any effect on the health of marine ecosystems nearby.”
Goodman measured biodiversity using underwater clipboards and underwater pencils and evaluated water quality be taking and testing samples.
“We had 15 minutes to write down every single kind of fish we saw and how many there were of that species,” she said. “We did a lot of fish ID during the pre-trip sessions, learning the fish that are the most common in the area and their characteristics.”
To test water quality, Goodman collected samples off the back of the boat, then tested them for oxygen, temperature and PH levels. She also will test the samples in a lab after the trip.
Observationally, Goodman could see more animal diversity near islands that weren’t commercialized when she and other students performed a beach seine — catching and counting fish in a big net. “There was a ton of fish near the developed islands, but only of one species. And there were a lot of sting rays coming up to us, because people have been feeding them,” she said.
“Some of the resorts are eco-friendly and some are not. There is one that was trying to destroy some of the mangrove ecosystem, important to the Bimini culture, to build a golf course. And the natives are struggling with that.”
Laura Lytle, a learning specialist at the Shedd, said the fee-based program costs $1,600, but scholarships are available.
“One of the things that I really, really love about this program is the change in the students throughout the course of the program,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but with it comes a lot of social confidence, as well as an increased ability to speak and share ideas … I was really impressed with their maturity.”
Goodman said the trip showed her what marine biologists do on a daily basis. She plans to major in marine biology in college, or she may major in general biology, pursuing a graduate degree in marine biology.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” she said. “It definitely shaped my decisions for college and steered me in the right direction. It helped me know what I want definitely to do, go into marine biology and maybe conservation.”