Experiencing Life on the Gulf Coast by Air and Sea
by Jamie Bullock, Education & Outreach Coordinator
August marked my one-year anniversary here in Mobile, and I have to say that my experience has been far better than I could have imagined.
I am working with an organization that I love, with people that I respect and admire, and doing work that I am passionate about and feel challenged by on a daily basis. And, if all of this wasn’t enough, working at Baykeeper has opened doors to so many unique experiences, like flying over the coast in a tiny airplane and going on deep-sea fishing trips in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. I am in heaven!
It was a dream come true when I had the chance to go on a 3-hour flight with board member Sam St John. We hopped in his plane at 7:30 a.m. that morning and took off on a gorgeous day. I was absolutely stunned to see how much water is surrounding us and it made me realize how fragile the land we stand on really is.
We are totally dependent on this water and it makes this area very unique. I feel like if you live or grow up here, you already know that. BUT, until you see it from above, until you see that blue, green and sometimes brown water touching every part of your home and connecting us all, you can’t really grasp how important it is that we take care of it. Seeing my new home from this perspective was breathtaking, energizing, and validating because it proved yet again why the work we do at Mobile Baykeeper is so, so important!
During that same month, I also had the opportunity to accompany my friend Sarah on a fishing research trip with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. We met out on Pensacola Beach at 5 a.m. that morning and headed out to sea. It was an all-female research team and the way those women could handle those huge fish blew my mind.
I also loved seeing my friend in action, doing what she loves to do. It’s always inspiring when you see people you care about in their element. After watching Sara, it was apparent that no amount of fish guts or stormy seas could ruin her day. We saw everything from sharks to sea turtles and I learned an enormous amount of information about the marine life that is unique to this area. It was an unforgettable day.
Having these two experiences meant the world to me. One day I found myself flying high over Coastal Alabama, marveling at the beauty and resources that surround us, and the next day I was out on a boat in the middle of the Gulf learning about the different types of fish and other marine life that play such an important role in our ecosystem.
Experiencing both of these adventures in one month was pretty remarkable. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to see our home from these different perspectives, and to step out of their comfort zone and witness how different this place is from anywhere else in the world.
Then maybe it would allow those who don’t always appreciate it to stand back on solid ground and commit to taking care of the beautiful, fragile, and life – giving environment that connects us all.