Today started off with presentations of our research projects. I was honestly extremely nervous about presenting today. Bryce and I finished our presentation literally 10 minutes before we had to meet in the seminar room to present it. We had worked on it last night until about 2:00am, but ended up changing pretty much the entire thing! Also, we were very distracted, surprise surprise right? One of the last groups to go, I was nervous mostly because everyone's projects were so great! Interesting, scientific, well thought out, all that jazz. In the end, our presentation actually went really great! We even won the "Best Presentation Award" from Edd and Trisha! Even though we may have thrown our project together last second, we spent a lot of time analyzing our data and writing our report--and we were passionate about our research--and I think that is what made our presentation great. Also, all that procrastination was filled with quality laughs and conversations, so I think we were just able to flow together well given all the time we've had to be together these last few days.
After presentations and lunch we all decided it would be fun to play Hide and Go-Seek Tag. Now, if anyone from back home is reading this, you know night games were the thing to do in Mesquite. And I loved them, and shoutout to my bestie Jessica for always being my ninja partner and preparing me for today. We started out with just one person as "It" to come hunt for all of us hiders, and then once found you had to team up with the person who found you to find the remaining people. I hid for about 5 minutes and then just decided to wander around. If I heard people coming I would just step behind a tree or a bush until they passed and then continue on my merry way. Almost everyone passed me at least once without noticing me. I distinctly remember thinking to myself as I walked the beach "The thing with games like these is you never know if you've won or not." I saw Pat (our cook) out collecting plastic on the beach and talked to him for a while (he is a wise man), and then went and sat down at the shoreline to look at some cowhead stingrays. Next thing I knew, Audree and Tia showed up screaming "YOU'RE ALIVE!!" "I won?" I asked, "By about 40 minutes, yeah you won! Everyone's been looking for you--WHERE WERE YOU." Just walking, wandering, doing my Sienna thing. (P.S Shoutout to Bryce who never got the memo that I was found and kept looking for me for about an hour. He's a true homie.)
Once everyone knew I wasn't dead, we went out and watched the sunset on Heron Island one last time. The water was warm, and the sun was blindingly bright. We played cards and took a night walk to look up at the stars. I truly adore every single person that came on this trip. I don't know what I did in life to get to take place in such an amazing experience, on a beautiful island with some of the greatest people I've ever met. We haven't even said Goodbye yet, and we're already planning a reunion the second Fall semester starts. I came out here to learn about coral reefs, to learn about what I want for my future, and for experience. I'm leaving with a reaffirmation that I am in the field I am passionate about, I am excited for the future because I have hope for this world, and most importantly I am leaving with lifelong friends and a heart that is full of love and light.
Today Bryce and I worked all day on data analysis/interpretation, writing our report, and putting together our presentation. Add breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a little nap and some fun with fellow classmates on the beach at sunset and that was my day!
For the most part, uneventful. But not in a bad way. I enjoy the work and the learning and getting to know Bryce better! We've debated, laughed, and overall, I think, just worked well as a team. I've had a lot of fun, and really do feel like I'm growing as a scientist while I'm out here.
Trisha and Edd have been really great to answer all my obnoxious questions about grad schools and future and where to get a job in a lab, and I really appreciate it.
Sometimes it's the simplest of days that are the greatest of days.
Last night I absolutely crashed before I could write my blog. The crazy part is, it wasn't even one of the most "physically active" days I've had out here. Bryce and I worked on our project and went out and collected data at high tide with Ed for about 2 hours. The winds here are really picking up and the current was pretty strong so we were beat, but we had dinner and the rest of the night to recover so who knows why I was so tired!
As for today, I worked again with Bryce to analyze the data we collected yesterday and I think our project is going in the right direction. Even though we may not be the most focused pair around, we get it done in the end and we have fun too--that's what matters right?
Only two more days left on Heron and I'm trying not to think too much about it and just enjoy the time we have but it's been so great and I'm not ready for it to end. Today, while watching the sunset, having good conversation I was reminded of something I read out of a John Muir book:
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
Today marked the beginning of our independent research projects. Everyone split into pairs and I was lucky enough to end up with Bryce! Each pair had to come up with a hypothesis we could test and collect data for over the next 4 days, and Bryce and I agreed on looking further into cleaner wrasse. Our research project is looking into the relationship between cleaner wrasse and the fish they are cleaning and how much time a wrasse spends cleaning a fish based on its size. I'm really excited with where our work is heading and I'm unbelievably lucky to have such a smart and fun partner.
Thia afternoon we had to work on writing out a proposal for our project and what should probably have only taken us under an hour took us about 2. We just got so distracted with good conversation with Saul or my scatter-brain-ness or making up gibberish words sung to the tune of "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid. Also Bryce plays the harmonica which I am constantly asking him to play.
The Day ended with a walk down to the jetty with Cassie and Bryce to watch the sunset. Sunsets here have been great already, but today the weather changed up a bit and there were lavender chains of clouds and baby pink fading into the orange sky. It's always a nice, beautiful and humbling way to end the day.
Tomorrow we start collecting our data in the field at high tide. Wish this scatter-brain some luck!
Remember summer camp? Maybe it was a science camp, a boy scouts or girl scouts group, a dance camp, anything like that? That is what this feels like, except as an adult. Which is awesome. I don't know what I'd call our camp... Camp Coral maybe? It's a camp for aspiring environmental scientists looking to have a life changing experience, gaining knowledge, hands on application and friendships that will last lifetimes.
So much happens in a day I go back and re-read blog posts and think of all the things I forgot to say! Today, we had our second day out on the outer reef and man oh man, it was A-MAZING! I thought the first day was great, but today the water was crystal clear and still; the busy-ness of the underwater world was at it's peak! Little tiny shining blue damsel fish swimming in schools, sea turtles cruising along, giant groupers and parrotfish being cleaned by wrasses, and tons and tons of butterflyfish. Ed even saw a Manta ray! (jealous) Melissa and I also saw a trumpet fish, which was definitely one of the weirder looking things I've seen out here so far.
I've come to love snorkeling and free diving a lot more than I anticipated. I knew it was going to be awesome, but I don't think I expected to love it as much as I do. There's something so exhilarating and satisfying about getting a glimpse into this mysterious world--and the only sound is the sound of your own breath and the tiny popping sounds of shrimp. I found myself today thinking about how much I will miss swimming everyday, and planning in my head to get a divers' certification and swim at my local pool more often.
After our dive, we had time to work on our lab reports and I got some nice time to write in my journal on the beach. Lunch, lecture and a movie (Blue Planet) later it was dinner! The days just fly by here. After dinner Tia, Trisha, Bryce, Hanna, Dylan, Melissa and I were chatting away about movies and laughing at Hanna's "ferret fingers." Tia's laugh is super contagious, and we were all moved to tears of laughter a couple times. It really is crazy how well we all get along and how easy it is to talk and just have fun. There's something about being around people that you share a common passion with. Sure, we all love wildlife and nature and science and that's why we're here; but we're all more than just that, and seeing everyone's personalties develop is one of my favorite parts of this experience.
To end this post, here's a cool picture I got of Trisha pointing out a nudibranch (sea slug) the other day.. I bet you wish your professors and classrooms were as cool as ours.
Another day beginning with swimming at 6:00am! I think I've decided I want to do that every opportunity I get. Not only is it a break-taking experience every time we go out, but it just feels great to start off the day with a swim, being with nature. Today took a boat to the outer reef, and a bunch of us took our our GoPros, but turns out we can't even post our videos on this blog! So I'll attach some screenshots I got from my footage today!
I am a Wildlife Science major with a minor in Philosophy at USU. I am passionate about studying and conserving our planet. I love to travel and explore and meet new people. My hobbies include hiking, doodling, yoga and doing my best to make the people around me smile!