As far as field stations go, they range from a shack near the Antarctic where you must radio larger stations everyday confirming you are alive to the homey-summer camp environment of Bamfield. Luckily, I only went to the latter. Life at a marine sciences field station is an amazing experience to do hand-on work with organisms but it is not for the faint of heart. Although Bamfield Marine Sciences Center is the most easily accessible marine field station to UBC, trekking into the homes of the organisms you study may not necessarily be close to any indoor plumbing. However, being able to say you have done field work or research at this facility instantly boosts your status as a hard core Biologist because nothing says that you are passionate about Biology until you cautiously maneuver through tide pools in the middle of the night when it is low tide to find a rare abalone or nudibranch.
As a young, blossoming researcher, doing Science at a field station is everything you would hope for it to be. From diving in kelp forests to discovering everything you collected from a plankton tow, you can be as ambitious as you like in chasing after those scientific dreams you grew up imagining. Bamfield is fully equipped with boats, diving gear, and water-proof equipment you would not imagine would exist, let alone be necessary, in the quest to aid in all the discoveries you set out to make. In contrast to research at a typical university, you will not be stuck in a lab all day, but you will be able to get hands-on experience with the organisms you are working with and have a unique experience to see them in their natural, uncontaminated habitat. Because the opportunities are endless, Bamfield offers university students from 5 campuses a chance to take courses at this facility and also offers public education programs for elementary and high school students to be thrown into the awesome world of field-based research.
Life in the quaint town of Bamfield also comes with the perks of living in a small community. Once the locals realize that you are not just a researcher or student passing by for a semester, you will be immersed into the town where everyone knows everybody. Also, parts of the town are only accessible by boat which makes morning commutes all the more interesting. By non-scientist standards, the food served at Bamfield may only be slightly above average, but because you may spend 4 continuous hours cold and soaking wet beach-seining before lunch, each meal is especially scrumptious. Mainly because a temporary escape from the elements in the great indoors can make the blandest of meals taste heavenly. Most importantly, everywhere square frame of reference you look through in Bamfield has potential for an incredible Instagram photo and I guarantee all your friends will be jealous of how “outdoorsy” your life appears to be.