A Memorable, Muddy Science Field Lab

October 26th – a day for the books. It was a cool and sunny day, with scattered showers throughout. It felt as a normal day would, but little did I know I was in for a surprising treat. We had finished our morning classes and were gearing up for our small journey to Spartina point, where the Salt Marsh lies. We were given dark green, full leg-length boots that would crease as we walked and made us all look like fishermen.

Students walk in the salt marsh

When we got to Spartina point we sat in the salt marsh hay and took part in lots of note taking, led by our science team. Then after about a half hour of discussion we were ready to get down and dirty in the mud and go on a scavenger hunt, searching for the species which were hidden within. Let’s just say things went south, extremely quick… We, very carefully, eased into the muddy terrain in front of us. CLuoup, SHloup, mUloup, the mud speaking to us as we trampled about its surface. 

Students start to get stuck in the muddy salt marsh

We were given the following tips for walking in the mud: 1. Don’t stand still, 2. Walk with purpose, twisting our feet to break suction, and 3. Always be moving, never allowing the suctioning process to occur. We either had not been listening or were just too excited about something we had seen and threw caution to the wind, but as I said before, things dramatically increased. It hadn’t been more than one minute, when all of a sudden… “uhhhhhhh, Lucy, I think I’m stuck.” Then another “OH MY GOD I LIKE CANNOT MOVE MY FEET.” And a third, “I need HELP!!” This all happening around me, with me of course not getting muddy nor stuck, just a bystander in a scene of chaos. One fell forward while in the desperate attempt to get unstuck, getting their hands all coated in mud. Another fell backward, covering the whole backside of their nice red rain jacket in mud. And the final one was doing a repetition of a swaying hips dance, that has yet to be introduced to the public’s eye.

Lots of muddy footprints as students try to not get stuck

Laughter seemed to be the only job which I was capable of handling, with tears rolling down my face as I tried to keep from being stuck. People begged for me to help them but I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it as I noticed the dirtied state of their hands. But after five minutes of struggle, they became unstuck and we escaped from the mud’s clutches. 

Students laugh while walking through the mud underneath a blue sky

We stumbled upon the top of the salt marsh in order to join the larger group, where we found  that no note taking was taking place, and the scavenger hunt had been interrupted by nature. I looked about and saw one, two, three, four, five, six, and probably even more stuck in the mud. I shouted to some of them, simply poking fun and making their situation hopefully a little less serious. I went to the area in which a lot of them were stuck, applying the advice which they gave us to not get stuck, praying it would prove to be an accurate method. We just kept making eye contact, laughing, and having fun. Although, me not getting stuck became a very problematic topic among my peers, and the fact I kept mentioning it didn’t help either. Collectively they decided that I didn’t get as muddy as I should’ve… So, handfuls of mud were gathered, I was chased down, and lightly pelted with lots of mud. I have yet to wash my clothes from the trip but the mud will forever be engraved in my mind. 

Ora Rudloff-Eastman, Dexter Regional High School, Exeter, ME

Students pose and smile after their muddy science field lab