I can't believe it is already Wednesday (I guess technically it's Tuesday over there). Time has definitely flown by while I've been here. I was able to cancel my flight last night from Gladstone to Brisbane because 1) I wasn't going to make it to the airport since my flight was leaving around 1:30pm and 2) it seemed like everyone else in the group were going to take a car and drive down there. Who would want to miss out on a roadtrip!?!? Esp with these amazing people! For those that don't know my original plan was to live at a national park by Sydney for the rest of the summer and help with a pH.D's research project. I got an email about a week before I was suppose to leave for Australia from the pH.D student saying that while she was looking at some field sites she fell and messed up her knee up. She has to get knee reconstruction surgery and will take 9 months to recover. As you can imagine I was devastated by this news. I had to change my flights and had to buy a new ticket. Since I was trying to get a ticket a week before I was suppose to go the tickets were crazy expensive. The only flight I could get that wasn't too crazy had a plane leaving from Gladstone to Brisbane at 1:35. I had a feeling I wouldn't make it in time since are ferry left Heron Island around noon, but I just hoped things would work out. It's amazing how people can have big impacts on you. As the days passed I became nervous about how I could handle this dilemma. Nonchalantly one of my classmates, it was either Cassie, Tia, or Sienna, asked what I was doing afterwards and invited me on their roadtrip. Little things like that just make life worth it.
In the morning Dylan and I got out to Shark Bay to start our project. It seemed like the night before we had everything planned and figured out....boy were we wrong haha. When we got to the water we had no freaking idea what we were doing. As we try to figure things out we just confused ourselves even further. We decided that we would talk to Edd and Trisha about it and as we were walking back we saw them. I guess we kind of stayed out a bit too long in the water because we missed breakfast and they were trying to find us to let us know that. Luckily our professors are awesome and they saved us some leftovers :) Plus they helped us out on our methods of our experiment. We went out during high tide to collect samples. My job was to count the fish that were already refuging in the coral. There were fish that would go in and out of the coral though, and those do not count in the experiment. The problem was was that the wind made the waves so choppy that it was hard to stay balance. I was scaring the fish and all the ones that were outside the coral went straight into the coral. I was coming back with high numbers when in reality there should be low numbers during high tide. Trisha gave me some advice on how I could get a more accurate number on our samples. It was a pretty chilly day today. I played some card games with Tia, Sienna, Kim, Cassie, and Camp. Card games just remind me of highschool because I would always play them during the last few weeks of school. I take pride in my skills at Egyptian War, although there are haters out there that say I cheat(aka Melissa, Camp, Cassie, and Dylan) haha. We definitely have a wonderful group in this course. I love them all, and I'm glad I can be myself around them and share this moment with them.
Today was the start of our group projects. Dylan and I are partners and we are doing our project on seeing if fish leave the sediment for the protection of coral during low tide. We were able to finish our proposal today, and will be able to start doing the actual project tomorrow. I went out to help Audree collect some of her data for her project. While I was swimming I saw a baby shearwater bird drowning. It was able to be above the water but because its wings are wet it couldn't fly. I so desperately wanted to help the little guy out. My instinct was to swim and grab it and bring it to shore. The only problem is that there is a policy where we can't touch or help them out. All I could do was look at it struggle and hope it would make it to shore. However, my guess is that it did not survive. I definitely have a soft spot when it comes to animals. It was my childhood dream to be a vet and help animals out. Growing up I have always surrounded myself with animals. I just feel like they don't judge you. If only humans can be like that. Not that being human is a bad thing haha. That's pretty much my day!
Since there is a storm coming on Wednesday, plans were changed so we went out to the deeper parts of the reef today. We were able to spot quite a few green sea turtles. I didn't realize how big they actually are! I had the urge just to give it a big hug, but it's kind of illegal to even touch them... I was able to do better on my free dive since I didn't wear a wet suit. I like how the wet suit keeps you warm, but it's terrible when you want to go under water because it makes you buoyant. My favorite fish that I saw today was part of the trumpet family. No lie their noses look like a trumpet! During free time Melissa and I went out to sun bathe. Still trying to get a slight tan while I'm here. Tia, Camp, Kim, Bryce, and Dylan joined us for a bit. One of them found a broom that was washed up on shore. Dylan grabbed the broom and started to make sweeping motions at me and said that he was trying to clean the garbage. He was kidding of course. There was a ferret knee tag war. Rules: 1) you use ferret fingers (3 fingers). 2) You try to tap the other person's knee 3) Let the games begin! By our next free time I was pretty physically tired afterwards and took a 2 1/2 hour nap during free time. We finished our last lecture today, and we are done with all of our labs. Starting tomorrow we will start working in our group project and work on our videos. Till next time!
Today was fabulous! We went out to the Blue Pools in the Great Barrier Reef. I took some sweet videos, and hopefully I can have the videos posted soon. I was able to see a white tip reef shark! I wanted to get a closer look at it, but I have not mastered the ability to free dive yet. I don't know how to explain it, but its definitely a different experience compared to our other coral reef snorkeling activities. It just amazed me how big the ocean is and how much we don't know about it. I wanted to go and explored every where. After breakfast I made the mistake of taking a toast outside with me. A seagull immediately hovered over me and wanted to take my toast...and then my soul. I quickly hurried back inside to finish my food. Even though I had no food when I came out that same seagull gave me the dirty eyed and followed me for a bit.Everyone studied for the fish identification test that we had later that afternoon. We were given pictures and we had to identify the common name and the scientific name of that species. As usual after the test I doubted my capabilities and was upset that I probably didn't get a 100 %. However, I was able to get my grade back and I surprisingly got a 100%! I seem to always stress myself with things like this, but good thing it's all over. Our group went down to the edge of the reef to take pictures of our USU Study Abroad banner. The group put sand on me, and made me a mermaid statue. I didn't think about how that was a terrible idea until afterwards when there was sand in my clothes. I love when it is night time over here because everyone is usually asleep by 9:30. The stars are so bright and beautiful, and the only things you can hear is maybe the crickets. Being on an island wouldn't be such a bad place to live.
I went with one of my classmates, Audrey, at 6am to go snorkeling. She is doing a undergrad research on fish behavior on the patch reefs. By the time we were done I was soo hungry!! For breakfast I had a serving of eggs, 2 toasts w/ jam, 3 slices of watermelon, 3 slices of pineapple, a bowl of cereal and a serving of cooked stir fry veggies. I swear I'm going to come home fat, but at least the food is really good.There's this awful stuff that Australians put on their toast called vegemite. It looks like nutella but definitely taste no where like it. I honestly feel like I am just eating yeast. Afterwards we went back in the water for our lab, and took video recordings of a transect of 30 meters at high and low tide. We observed the changes in fish diversities and recorded which groups we saw. During our free time I took a stroll through the island and observed the nature. I had to make sure I took some pictures of birds for my parents. I found a really cool butterfly that was black with big white polka dots. I forgot to mention in my land post but there are tree on the island that produce this poisonous sap. The noddy (a type of bird) get stuff in the sap and die. As a result you see a lot of dead noddy on the side of the trails. Strangely only the noddy have a problem with the tree, and the other birds I guess are just smarter. In the evening we went onto the resort side of the island to hear from a group called the Coral Watch. They are promoting and educating the citizens about coral reefs and how they could help. They ask for volunteers to help with their data by going out and grading the healthiness of the coral. We are going out tomorrow to help out with their surveys. The coral have a symbiotic relationship with a certain algae and get it's coloration from it. When the coral is stressed though (due to increase of temperature) the algae leave the coral and that starts the "bleaching" process of the coral. They start to look white and can't survive without this algae. If temperatures go back to normal though, in a few weeks the coral can regain the algae and be able to recover. These surveys that we will take will help marine scientists know on which areas need help. While walking back from the meeting I spotted a tiny gecko and I just had to capture it and take a picture :)
Okay, so I have come to the conclusion that on my trip here I will always wake up early naturally haha. Hope it can continue when I went home. I have been dreading to take showers here on the island. They are absolutely freezing! Plus it feels like a waste of effort because right afterwards you'll go straight into the ocean. I was told that if I take a shower in the morning that the water is warm.... wrong!!!! It was still freezing but I think I have grown accustomed to the cold while I have been here. We joined a group called the Coral Watch today and helped collect data. I saw a few more fish than I usually do today. I saw a couple of snapper fish, black eye thick lip, and a few barrier reef anemone fish. One person in our group saw a school of squid. The rest of the morning was free time, and I spent time swimming and sun bathing on the side. I am happy to say that I didn't get severely burned, and I went from porcelain white to eggshell white. Anyways, theres not many shells here surprisingly, so when I do see a shell I always have to stop and observe. We went back to the reef during low tide with the Coral Watch group. My group was able to see a tiny epaulette shark in one of the corals. A gentleman grabbed it and pulled it out of the water. We were able to touch it for a second. In the evening I went down with some of my classmates to take pictures of the sunset. This place is absolutely beautiful. I would not mind living here a bit longer.
It wasMy day started out at 6 in the morning. Normally this would be horrible, but surprisingly it wasn't. My body has still not been able to adjust to the jet lag so I was fully awake by 5am. Our group met up together and went snorkeling. I had a bit of a tough time figuring out how to swim with fins and breathe through the snorkel but I managed. We saw so many things! Some of the list include: staghorn coral, green sea turtle, cow head rays, spotted eagle rays, black tip reef shark, and etc. We were able to see parts of an abandon broken down ship that was in the reef, after that we went back into the reef and did a lab. I was afraid of getting cut up on the coral, but I was able to manage. On our free time I did a watercoloring of a seahorse, and at the end of the night I had some of the group draw and use my water colors. I definitely wouldn't mind living on this island. The view is incredible, and theres so many creatures on the island. Apparently there was a sea turtle hatching sighting on the southern part of the island; however, we were too late by the time we arrive to the location. It was a good definitely a good day.