Water-related activities make up an important part of Gulliver Prep junior Camila Mirow’s life. Mirow volunteers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Key Biscayne. By the start of this school year she had already completed a two-year intern program at NOAA. She spent several months in the Ocean Chemistry and Physical Oceanography departments working with the ocean engineer and microbiologist.
“We made a series of water collections in the Keys and some bacteria collections in Crandon Park and Bill Baggs State Park,” she says. “We collected seaweed and water.”
Mirow also worked with NOAA’s Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. They tagged six green turtles and a loggerhead turtle that were later released by the Miami Seaquarium. The tagging allows the turtles to be tracked.
Mirow worked both this past summer and the previous summer at NOAA. Her experiences were different because the first summer they had access to a research vessel. But last summer, because of budget cuts, the boat was moved to a different location.
“There were not a lot a projects being funded, so it was difficult to find someone to work with,” she says.
But she didn’t let that deter her.
“Every moment I was there I could walk along the hallway and talk about science,” she says. “That’s something a lot of kids weren’t able to do.”
Mirow says her future will be connected with the ocean. The question for her is whether she should go into ocean engineering or ocean biology.
“My heart is set on nature and marine life,” she says.
She plans to intern again in the summer. During school months, she’s too busy with sports to devote the necessary time to her ocean interests.
“I row and I do crew and the club I’m part of is the Coconut Grove Rowing Club,” she says. “We compete in different regattas all over the state and country. We mostly race fours and we train five or six times a week.”
Spring is particularly hectic because club members travel to Orlando or Sarasota for events.
“I would love to continue to row in college,” she says. “Not on a highly competitive team because of my size. Usually rowers are five-ten or five-eleven; I’m five foot three.”
Mirow hopes to attend a small, liberal arts college in the northeast and she has visited several. She has applied to Vassar, Mt. Holyoake, Roger Williams, Cornell and Brown.
At Gulliver, Mirow is one of the founders of the rowing club in hopes of getting more students interested in the sport.
She says it’s difficult because Gulliver doesn’t have direct access to the water. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the Oceanography Club and the Scuba Club.
“Both clubs are very active; the Oceanography Club went shark tagging with the University of Miami,” she says.
“That was a great experience. We caught nine-foot nurse sharks, tagged them and performed biopsies.”
The Scuba Club gave her the opportunity to work with the Coral Reef Restoration Foundation.
“We go out and dive on the reef they are restoring and we use this type of epoxy to glue new branches of staghorn coral so they can grow and expand,” she says. “We did it once last year, but this year we will probably try and do it two or three times. We have many other dives as well on Molasses Reef off Key Largo.”
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld