Today is pretty much our last day on the island, we are leaving tomorrow morning. Today I got to see the last sunset I'll probably ever see on Heron Island. It has gone by a lot faster than I thought it would, I have to admit i'm pretty sad now.
We all presented our research today, I did a lot better talking than I thought I would do, but we actually went overtime a little bit, I didn't expect our presentation to be that long. Laura and I did a really good job in my opinion. Teal, Logan, and Rachel won the best presentation award, and they deserved it. Their research was really in depth, and very knowledgeable too.
We also got individual awards today, I got "The Linnaeus Award for Identification", because I would misidentify a lot of things, such as a rock for something living, or a sea cucumber as coral, or a stingrays tail for a piece of plastic, the list goes on.
I'm proud of this award.
I also finished reading the book I brought: "All the Light We Cannot See", It's probably my favorite book of all time now.
I got some awesome footage from the last snorkels today, but I left them on the GoPros, hopefully they are still on there by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.
I'm in a slightly somber mood about leaving right now, that's why the post sounds a bit dull.
In the meantime, here's a picture I took with my phone today.
Today Laura and I cranked out our research paper and powerpoint, now we're preparing for presenting it tomorrow. I'm feeling confident we are going to do well on this, it's a topic we're both interested in and I am a lot better at presenting research now than I have been in the past.
One of the most exciting parts of today was going on the evening snorkel. I got a lot of great videos and pictures. We saw a whole lot of turtles, including a huge green turtle and a hawksbill. I also got good footage of the shipwreck and inside of it. I also got some footage of a spotted eagle ray and a white tip shark.
It's been raining, and not showering or sprinkling. Full on downpour. It's also been quite windy, and as a result this has affected our work. Today was mine and Laura's last day for data collection. It didn't turn out as well as we expected. The daytime recordings for epaulette sharks was just what we predicted, a big fat zero, but there was probably more stingrays out on north beach today than I've seen people on this island. I had a real feeling of apprehension out there, every direction you looked you could see a massive stingray tail pointing out of the sand, and the strong currents from the winds only blew you closer to them. When Laura went out for the twilight snorkel/reef walk to count abundance, we had everything against us. It was raining, and the rain creates an oily effect on top of the water, which means we had low visibility. It was windy, which means the current was strong, which made it impossible to stay in one place. The tide was still high. Stingrays were still everywhere. Worst of all (I might be overreacting), there was this one tourist snorkeling in our research area. We refer to him as "that guy" now. He would start at the top of the beach, work his way out into the reef, use a huge camera to take pictures with the flash on (big no no), end up at the end of the beach, then walk all the way back to the top and repeat. We only found one epaulette shark. One. (1) Compared to the fifteen we found yesterday, this was pretty disappointing. I suspect the stingrays and flash photography scared off the sharks. If "that guy" is reading this, I hope you stub your toe on a rock.
But otherwise the day was pretty cool, here's a picture with me and a guitar shark from this morning.
I saw more megafauna (or beasties) today than I've ever seen before. We had our last lecture today, it was about threats to the reef. I learned about a type of starfish known as the crown of thorns, they eat coral and if they are really abundant can destroy reefs. Laura and I also worked on our project longer today, when we went out looking for epualettes at 1:00 pm, we found nothing except stingrays and a huge black tip shark. Although when we went at 5:00, we found a whole 15 epaulette sharks, a insurmountable number of sting rays, two guitar sharks, a lot of baby black tip sharks, and flying fish. Here's some pictures:
I spent most of today sleeping. We didn't do much except for lecture. After lecture I went to my bed to read for a bit, then I woke up three hours later. I did spend some time in the water though, Laura and I scouted out a location for observing epaulette shark abundance. We did find a spot up on north beach, but the wind was really bad today, and made it hard to snorkel. We only found one epaulette shark when we went today at 1:30, and we found a lot more stingrays, I almost stepped on one too (yikes). We had much better luck when we went at 5:30, we saw at least 10 epaulette sharks, and only one(?) stingray. Visibility was getting too dark though so we headed in early. Later on before and after dinner I played some card games with the group. We played woosh and BS. I'm gonna go to sleep early now so I can wake up for the morning snorkel.
Today was pretty fun, we got to compare fish abundance at low tide and high tide. Unfortunately during low tide I tripped on some coral and scratched myself up pretty good. Enough to warrant bleeding and a cleaning with iodine (which is the opposite soothing). High tide was a lot more fun and I had a good picture taken of me. I also visited the gift shop today and splurged a bit too much money on polo shirts and a stubby cooler. Laura and I also came up with an idea for the group project involving observing epaulette sharks (which are rad) and their abundance depending on the time of day. After I finish this post I'm going to end the day with watching The Shawshank Redemption for the first time with Logan. Here are some pictures now.
Today we finally took the species ID test that we've been studying on for the past couple days. I wasn't stressing too hard about it and got a good 99% on it. I missed the scientific name for Chiton. We also went to the outer reef again today but I wasn't feeling too good after eating too much, so I finished up early and had a nice conversation with Isaac, our boat captain. After a couple hours later though I went out for a sunset snorkel with Edd and Josh and I saw a black-tip reef shark. Before coming on this trip I thought I would be more wary of sharks, but we end up usually chasing them instead of the other way around. Later we had a birthday celebration for Susie and got to have some delicious cake. Overall today was pretty chill despite looking a bit stressful initially. Tomorrow is looking pretty busy though, so I better finish this up and get to sleep.
Today, we got to go to the outer reef. The color of everything there is amazing. I got to take a GoPro there, but I swear 90% of the videos are just me seeing something cool, trying to dive, failing at diving, rushing up the surface, then gasping for air. Later on in the day we got to the sunrise snorkel, and it was during this time where I probably got the first scare since I arrived on the island. We have a competition going around to see who can collect the most plastic in the ocean. During the dive, I saw that looked like a plastic pipe sticking out of the sea floor, and I started diving down to get a closer look. While extending my arm out, I soon realized that what I saw was not a plastic pipe. It was a tail. A tail of a disgruntled stingray masking itself in the sand. I don't think I've ever swam upward so fast in my life. I really have got to get better at identifying things. The rest of this post will be pictures of things I've taken the past few days.
Once I get a flashdrive I will upload some of the stuff I took with my GoPro
Today was fun.
We started off the day with a morning snorkel and got to see an octopus and wobbegong shark. I also saw a lot of stingrays today, including one that was probably the same size as me. When me and Logan were working on our lab, we did so next to two huge stingrays, so that was fun. I also found a tiny crab today, I named him Florp.
This is Florp.
I took Florp back to the ocean, hopefully he didn't get eaten by birds.
After all that we did a reef walk and I got to see a lot of sea cucumbers and some epaulette sharks. After that we got some amazing food cooked wondefully by Pat and learned about coral from a good lecture.
I also had Teal put my hair in a man bun today.
Today started off with a abrupt wake up to start snorkeling in the morning. I wasn't expecting the water to be as cold as it was. While out on the reef we got to pass around a big ship wreck. It's times like these where I wish my phone was waterproof so I could take a picture.
After that dive we had to head out to the reef a little while later to do our work for the lab. We got to take quadrants and measure the coral coverage in a certain area. During this trip I unfortunately scraped my knee and punctured my ankle on some coral. After the trip I had to have the wounds cleaned and sprayed with spray plaster. Because I am on an island, any injuries run the risk of getting infected fast, and take a long time to heal.
Later on in the day to we got to take a free swim out in the ocean with Edd. During this trip I got to see a lot of sea turtles, including a massive loggerhead turtle, which was almost as tall as me and three times as wide, with a head probably as big as a chicken. This was also the first time I tried diving in the reef, so I got pretty close to the turtles and coral. I should probably mention all of this was happening during the sunset, which is incredibly beautiful here.
I'm gonna finish off the post here, I hope I'll become better at writing these as time goes on.