This day started off with an early morning swim. The water was pretty murky so we had to get pretty close to things before you could see them. We did have a really special moment though. We looked up at one point and saw a massive loggerhead turtle swimming toward us. It swam about a foot underneath me. I turned around to swim with it and it was legitimately as tall as I am. Loggerhead get the largest out of all the turtles in this area. Later on, we were swimming down the other side of the boat channel and the same thing happened again! Two special moments for us!
It was fairly stormy today, so setting the go pros and lettuce out for my project was more of an adventure. On the swim back in, we ran into probably about 40 cow head stingrays. This was in only about 4 feet of water and these guys have huge spines on their tail – the kind of spines that killed the Crocodile Hunter. Granted, he was trying to hug one of these guys at the time, but it still unnerving. Their wing span is about four feet across, so these are definitely not small.
The rest of this day has been full of data analysis. The rest of the class started their projects today. It is cool to see what everyone else is studying. There are so many questions to be answered. One thing I noticed while swimming back is that the sand perches take their time to go back in their burrows when the live next a reef structure versus when the live out in the open sand. In the open sand, they dart into their burrows as soon as they come into view. The ones in the coral only dart in when you make sudden movements. There is so much to learn about the ocean, and I am glad that I get to contribute to this knowledge.
Here is to science!