It started raining while we were out there, and it was so beautiful. I felt the raindrops on my face, heard the waves breaking against the reefcrest , saw Heron in the distance, and was surrounded by the biggest ocean in the world. It was wonderful and awe-striking. Each day I'm here, the world becomes more and more majestic to me. How is it so cool?!
Ben, the boat driver, made sure we had a good time on the way out. When he told us to hold on, I told him to do his worst, and he delivered! Nobody fell out, but it sure was bumpy! It was so dang fun. Oh, and Edd showed us his elephant-seal impersonation when we got back and it was... like nothing I've seen before. He is literally a teenager in an adult's body and it's so great.
Stargazing was a must tonight. This is our last night essentially away from civilization, so it's the clearest the stars will be for a dang long time. We just sat on the beach, listening to the waves and looking up at the stars. It was beautiful.
I've got to go pack now, so I guess this is Holly signing out. It's been real!
Please enjoy this slideshow of me falling while trying to pose. I'm sometimes terrible at standing.
I'm going to miss it here. I always underestimate how much of an impact the people are going to have on me in situations like this. Gosh, there really are some top-notch, 10/10, good people here! Edd made a comment about how we're a pretty cohesive group since we all like doing things together. With people like this, how could I not want to hang out with everyone? Sorry, you're probably bored by now. Moral of the story: it will be hard to say goodbye.
Today was mostly research project stuff. We ended up going out and collecting more data so we had an even 100 samples, 50 goby and 50 sandperch burrows. Man, if we thought the wind was bad yesterday, it was nothing compared to today! There were whitecaps where we were swimming. But the water wasn't too cold, so all in all it wasn't too bad. Just a lot of swimming against the current and staying in the same place! We're almost done with our lab report, so we can focus on the 12 minute presentation tomorrow.
Here's our results:
And here's some pictures of the fish we're studying.
We had a lecture today on threats to the reef, which was kind of depressing but also hopeful. There are so many things humans are doing to hurt the environment in general, but also if you look at our progress we're getting better! If I learned nothing else from this trip it's that plastic grocery bags are so unnecessary! They're not recyclable and it's so easy to just use a reusable bag.
This morning it was just Edd and me on the morning snorkel. We went up the boat channel past the wreck and saw a turtle munching on some salps (a kind of plankton), tons of schools of different species of fish, and a black tipped reef shark. It was a rewarding swim!
Today was a free day! Logan, Rachel, Laura, and I went to the beach and read and relaxed for a while. We might have gotten some sun, but I mostly felt the stinging of the sand being blown up by the wind. But we stuck it out for a good 35 minutes!
Carly, Riley, and I went to Shark Bay and tested ran our lab. Good thing we did, because we ended up changing our methods! It was so windy, I kept getting saltwater in my snorkel. Yay! It's supposed to be at least as windy tomorrow, when we actually have to collect the data. But we tweaked a few things, so hopefully we're more successful tomorrow. For our final research project, we're observing if more gobies or sandperches burrow close to coral reefs. We're going to observe roughly 50 burrows, identify to which species they belong, and measure the burrow's distance from the closest reef. Here's hoping all goes well!
I got to read a lot of my book today, so I'll call it a success! I am reading "The Whitest Flower," by Brended Graham. It's the fictional story about a family during the Irish Potato Famine. It's really good so far, I highly recommend!
This evening we watched the sunset from the jetty and played cards. I'm pretty terrible but I enjoy it. Most of the time. Carly taught us this cutthroat game called Woosh, and I'm a little too nice and absent minded to be good at that game. Oh well, you can't win them all (or any of them, in my experience ;)
I didn't take any pictures today, so here's one of a black-tipped reef shark.
That's just a bad pun I came up with today. Enjoy!
We did our last lab today (besides the one we create). We measured fish abundance at low tide vs. high tide (spoiler, there are way more fish at high tide!). I like labs, but I don't know that I could be a scientist because I really don't like writing lab reports. Yuck.
Carly, Riley, and I walked all the way around the island today. It only took us about an hour, and that was us leisurely strolling/ struggling in the sand. We saw approximately 1 million guitar sharks and trumpet fish, and even a manta ray! It's kind of funny that we often see more when we're out of the water than in.
Besides the lab, today was pretty chill. A bunch of us just sat on the porch and read our books for a while. I am so impressed that so many of us like reading! It's pretty nice to be around people my age who all like learning in general. Look, kids! Reading is cool!]
We got into groups for our final research project. We have to create a project, give a 12 minute presentation, and write a lab report. Carly, Riley, and I are a group and are going to observe the amount of goby vs. sandperch burrows around a coral patch. Or something like that. We're going out to tomorrow and going to do a test run of our idea to see if it's feasible.
Loving life, having fun, and seeing lots.
P.S: If you look, you can see my sick wetsuit tan line on my legs in the pictures below. I think it's hilarious!
The bottom three pictures are from yesterday during the reef dive and sunset. P.S. Bean took the awesome underwater shot.
We went to the outer reef again today and I loved it! At first I kind of hated it because we got dropped in the middle of a strong current that we had to fight against to get where we wanted. I think I got shinsplint in one leg, which isn't even possible in the water! But once we got out of the evil current, everything was amazing.
I (accidentally) ran into three people on the swim today. Oops. The first was Tibble, one of the videographers. To be fair, we ran into each other. Next was Josh. I swam under to video and just didn't look to see if anyone was where I surfaced. Then I ran into Carly. Same thing as with Josh, but this time I headbutted her. Luckily the wetsuits and water make a buffer, so nobody was harmed! Apparently I haven't really grown out of my bull in a china shop habits.
Being here makes me wish I was one of the characters from H2O. Wouldn't it be so cool to not have to come up for air or (unsuccessfully) equalize your ears when diving? I unashamedly admit that I'd love to sprout a tail sometimes.
We had our specied I.D. test today and everyone did pretty well. Glad that's out of the way!
Instead of going on the optional sunset snorkel, I decided to watch the sun set from the Jetty and take some pictures. This sure is a beautiful place!
We had chocolate cake tonight in celebration of Susie's birthday. Pat worked wonders again! Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and cream-custard drizzled on top.
Still loving it here and learning lots. Oh, I almost fell asleep in the lecture today. It was about Reef Fishes and super interesting, but I just get so worn out here! I stood up for a while again and managed to pay attention and stay awake. Yay Holly!
Pictures: Me right before headbutting Carly, swim circle!, Looking at some beautimous coral
Really though. We went to the outer reef today, and scenes from the movie were playing the whole snorkel trip. The movie even captured how sunlight looks underwater! And the way fish move in groups, yep, that's totally true. 10/10 directors, I'm highly impressed!
The outer reef is stunning. Snorkeling by the island is super fun and fascinating, but the outer reef is a whole new level. The water is so unbelievably clear that you can see stuff 20 feet down practically perfectly. There were so many species of coral and fish, and many of the fish were way bigger than those in the lagoon. Some people saw a shark, but not me. It was still a super successful dive, even without a shark spotting.
After the outer reef trip we all studied for the species I.D. test (it's tomorrow, aah!) and had lunch. Next Edd did a lecture on invertebrates, which was super interesting, but we were all tired from the swim and had food comas, so we all struggled to stay awake (sorry Edd!). I had to stand up a couple times to keep from falling asleep. It's crazy how tired we get here! After the lecture we did a reef walk where we assessed coral health by looking at its coloring. The darker the coral, the healthier it is.
Next was more study time and the sunset snorkel. I gotta say, it doesn't get better than watching the sun sink behind the ocean while you're in the water. On the swim I raced a grouper (he won) and followed a stingray. I later found out that it was a pacific electric ray, so good thing I didn't get too close! I don't fancy getting a nice zap.
Rachel and I came up with a nice bunk bed ab workout, comment below if you want us to start a youtube channel!
After dinner, we went stargazing on the beach. They are breathtaking! We saw the milky way so clearly, and the more you looked at the sky, the more stars you saw. Bean has a stargazing app, so we found Jupiter and Saturn and lots of constellations. The universe is such a wondrous place!
I'm learning lots and swimming lots and eating lots, the end.
P.S. Here's a group picture we took at Shark Bay. Yay! And Edd took an awesome picture of a turtle. Enjoy!
This morning I decided to wear my bum bag (the word fanny is a big no-no here) to the beach for the morning swim, but forgot to take it off before diving into the water. So there goes my phone. Yay. Sometimes I really hate how absent minded I am. My phone's currently sitting in a little container that sucks the moisture out of things, but I'm not too optimistic. So I probably won't have nearly as many pictures as I hoped, but I'll just have to make do. On the positive side: I took my passport out of my bum bag last night, so at least I can still get home! I'm trying to take this experience as a not-so-subtle nudge from the man upstairs to disconnect. Message received!
Besides that, today was superb. I saw an octopus and a Wollongong shark on the morning swim, which is way cool. We did a lab today measuring the abundance of invertebrates as distance from a patch reef increases. Pretty much we swam out (in Shark Bay today, a new place! Absolutely breathtaking), measured out 15 meters, and collected sediment samples with a topless syringe. Sounds pretty easy, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too. WRONG! The current kept sweeping us away from our sample area, so we had to constantly be fighting to stay in one spot. And that syringe did not want to bury in the sediment! We took each sample, and each collection probably took me at least 8 times of free diving and trying to shove the syringe further into the ground. But it was so cool! After Laura and I collected our samples, we just snorkeled around and got to meet so many fish friends!
We then went to the lab and sorted through our sediment samples looking for invertebrates. So pretty much we got to play with sand and beasties. One lab report later, we got to go on a reef walk at sunset, which was nice and relaxing. Suzy found a cone shell, which can be deadly if touched. Pretty cool, huh?
We had a lecture on corals today, which was super interesting. Did you know that corals have mouths? And some can grow several millimeters in a day! I always thought they took hundreds, if not thousands of years to grow. I like how we get to actually see and experience the lecture material. We had a lesson on coral, which we now see multiple times a day. I like learning for the sake of better understanding the world, and that's what we're doing! I wish all school was like this, it would make everything so much more meaningful.
Pat's food for today:
Breakfast: A wonderful crust-less quiche with veggies in it, breakfast curry (holy yum!), fruit, toast, etc.
Lunch: Quinoa-veggie burgers, Asian salad, potato salad, beet salad
Teatime snack: Muffin with caramel and chocolate drizzle
Dinner: Braised beef with sweet potato on top, steamed veggies (in love!), beet salad
Dessert: Vanilla Ice cream cone with caramel and chocolate drizzle
I (obviously) have no pictures from today, so instead here's a google image of cone shells. Don't pick them up!
sdThat's pretty much all I did today and it was amazing. First swim was at 6:30 this morning. Sidenote: I was kind of dreading having to get up early, but it hasn't been a problem at all. Since the sun goes down so early here (Around 17:15), everyone goes to bed between 9 and 10. I am actually getting on a better sleep schedule here!
But anyway, the first swim was great. The waves were super choppy, but it all added to the adventure of snorkeling in the early morning. We saw fish and sea turtles and stingrays, oh my! After the swim we rinsed off and had breakfast.
The food here is amazing. I'm pretty sure Pat, the cook, is a god. I was expecting mediocre greasy camp food, and I have never been more happy to be wrong! We actually eat vegetables and fresh stuff and I am in heaven.
We were going to have a lecture today but the projector cord broke and won't be fixed until tomorrow. So we did fieldwork in the ocean instead! Basically we approximated the density of coral as you go farther from the reef line, and wrote a report on it after. I was a little nervous for the actual science part of this trip, but now I feel much better. Edd and Trisha don't just throw us to the sharks (hehe, pun intended) and the labs are actually fun!
Some of us explored more of the island on our free time today. We just walked along the beach and oh. my. gosh. I literally feel like I'm in a movie, everything is so beautiful! The water is the most gorgeous shade of teal until you get to the reef line, then it turns the deep blue of the ocean. And when you look at the horizon, the sky is almost a baby blue, but gets deeper as you look higher. Maybe there's always been houses and buildings and mountains in the way, but I've never really noticed that before. This girl is mostly used to mountains and fields of corn and wheat, and I now know what I've been missing out on. Maybe I can be both a mountain and ocean girl?
Edd took some of us on an evening swim where we got to watch the sun go down over the ocean. It was magnificent. While on our swim, we saw a huge loggerhead sea turtle. Seriously, it was at least 4 four feet long. Unfortunately I didn't see a shark today. Hopefully tomorrow!
It's colder here than I anticipated. I was still in summer mode and didn't want to think about how it's winter here. It gets chilly at night, and the wind on the beach can be pretty cold. But that doesn't stop us from jumping in the water! With our wetsuits, the water actually feels quite nice. But I'm pretty sure I'll have a sick wetsuit tan line by the end! It's already beginning, and will only get worse. Yay!
I didn't take any pictures today (I know, shame on me), so I'll post some I took of last night. None of them have been edited, not even a little! The world is such a wondrous place, isn't it?