Field Study: The Polar Plunge

Welcome to the Zoo!

What exactly is a field study? Where do you go? What do you do? Why am I asking so many questions? Well, I can at least answer the first 3 questions for you through my recent field study this past Wednesday to the zoo! First of all, a field study is a trip that you take for one of your classes. This is both for your core and elective classes. The amount of field studies you take is usually about 2 per course, and you can have more than 1 a day with each one taking about 4 hours. The places you go are located around Copenhagen and always relevant to your class. A lot of times they are integrated in some form or another academically. This includes going to a university lab to look at zygotes for my Epigenetics and The Environment class or even going to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for my EU-US Relations class.

While telling you this is all fun and games, why not actually walk you through my recent field study for my Biology of Marine Mammals Lab! During this last week, everyone from my class went to the Copenhagen Zoo. We were there to conduct behavior studies on three different animals: Harbor Seals, Polar Bears, and California Sea Lions. I was in the group looking at Harbor Seals. We all met at the zoo early in the morning and got free entry before all the visitors did, which by the way, super cool! We visited all the exhibits that we were going to be at and then proceeded to take our data. My group decided to look at a variety of things, including taking notes on dive time vs. surface time and sleep time of the Harbor Seals. Unfortunately, sometimes when you want the animals to swim, they sleep and vice versa but that’s part of the fun! We ended up collecting a decent amount of data at the end of the day on what we called “stripped sausages.” We even got to see them be fed and talked to the zoo keeper responsible for the seals. Afterwards, my group got breakfast because you can get really hungry staring intensely at animals for long periods of time.

We ended up taking more data afterwards and everyone from all 3 groups met at the entrance roughly around noon. We went over what we learned, and then had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted! I stuck around at the zoo to take more pictures and see the animals which was amazing. It really is a remarkable zoo.

And that was my field study! It was a lot of fun to integrate what we learned in terms of data collection and use it in the field. These trips show how our classes can truly be applicable in real life. This is something unique to DIS and makes such a huge difference to me.

I guess you could say it “seal”-ed the deal.

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