Talya Benzer-Shuman ’21 observes a clam on the mudflats at Hunters Beach in Acadia National Park. Trips such as these allow students in COA's Oceanography course to pick up practical experience with some of the many organisms that make these ecosystems unique.Talya Benzer-Shuman ’21 observes a clam on the mudflats at Hunters Beach in Acadia National Park. Trips such as these allow students in COA's Oceanography course to pick up practical experience with some of the many organisms that make these ecosystems unique. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21This day’s work at Acadia’s Hunters Beach is part of a longer-term class project which brings students to several different beaches, including Acadia’s Sand Beach and Thompson Island, to measure changing contours and the angles to the ocean.

Nathan Dubrow ’21 seizes the opportunity to get out and about on MDI to pursue his passion for birding. Dubrow is in the Ornithology class at COA and has held a long-held passion for birds.Nathan Dubrow ’21 seizes the opportunity to get out and about on MDI to pursue his passion for birding. Dubrow is in the Ornithology class at COA and has held a long-held passion for birds. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21Beaches are dynamic environments. All experience different tides and sediment shifts and all have unique geologic pasts. While some beaches might experience more bouts of erosion and are thus steep, others don’t and are much flatter.

Annaleena Vaher ’21 uses a Transit Measuring Device to measure the profile of Hunters Beach. The device can be used to measure the changing contour of land and the angle of the beach to the ocean.Annaleena Vaher ’21 uses a Transit Measuring Device to measure the profile of Hunters Beach. The device can be used to measure the changing contour of land and the angle of the beach to the ocean. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21

Learning about beach profiles gives students broader insight into the past and present of the surrounding natural ecology.

Maya Roe ’21, left, and Gaby Poli ’21 compare measurements on a ruler with readings on a Transit Measuring Device. Students will then use the Pythagorean theorem to measure the exact angle of the slope of the beach.Maya Roe ’21, left, and Gaby Poli ’21 compare measurements on a ruler with readings on a Transit Measuring Device. Students will then use the Pythagorean theorem to measure the exact angle of the slope of the beach. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21

To measure a beach profile students use a Transit Measuring Device (TMD) and a ruler placed far away from this device to determine how much higher the TMD stands at one point on the beach in comparison to the ruler at another. Students then use Pythagoras’ theorem to measure the exact angle of the slope of the beach. 

Maya Roe ’21 checks out some seaweed on Hunters Beach during a trip with Dr. Sean Todd's Oceanography class.Maya Roe ’21 checks out some seaweed on Hunters Beach during a trip with Dr. Sean Todd's Oceanography class. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21

In many of the photos we see students communicating with each other as they determine this difference: measuring a beach profile is definitely not a one-person job!

Gaelen Hall ’21 places the ruler used to measure the beach profile angle while communicating his measurements with the class in the background who observe the Transit Measuring Device.Gaelen Hall ’21 places the ruler used to measure the beach profile angle while communicating his measurements with the class in the background who observe the Transit Measuring Device. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21

Helen Westall ’21, Indigo Woods ’21, and Celeste Crowley ’21 enjoy the applied work in the Oceanography class, spending the day comparing different beach profiles with the goal of learning more about their dynamic beach environments.Helen Westall ’21, Indigo Woods ’21, and Celeste Crowley ’21 enjoy the applied work in the Oceanography class, spending the day comparing different beach profiles with the goal of learning more about their dynamic beach environments. Credit: Juneshoo Shin ’21