So our last day on the island was used to tie together loose ends. We finished our projects by presenting them to the class. Trisha and Edd gave everyone an award. I got the most questions asked award, with a highlight on my question about cheese.
I went on the morning snorkel, but there wasn’t much to see, other than a small hawksbill turtle hiding under the shipwreck. Later, most of the group went on one last snorkel on the northern side of the island. There were so many fish I was wondering why we hadn’t snorkelled on that side before. I saw both blue and yellow mesh sea stars, as well and a ton of anemonefish and valentini’s sharp nose pufferfish. Because the water was so shallow it was all very close and easy to see, which was awesome.
Most of today has been spent in the lab picking through sediment cores, but we are finally done with the microscopes and are working our way through the project. I'm excited mostly because staring through a microscope without music to listen to was incredibly boring. The highlight of today so far was a walk around the beach with Brynn, Hailey and Katie. We had to do some parkour at one point on the rocks, and we saw a few crabs, but it’s so windy that most things are avoiding the island right now. Now even the sunset could show through the clouds.
Everyone has officially started their research projects today. We have a group studying sea cucumbers (which is really cool), and a few groups doing sediment cores, including my group.
My phone fell out of my pocket on the jetty last night looking at the stars. Hailey dove for it during this morning's snorkel, which was greatly appreciated. Its completely fried and my pictures are forever gone but at least I got the case back, right?
There was a green sea turtle hatching today. I only caught the last of it, I ran to get Hailey and Katie, since I could see them further down the beach. We watched each of the turtles struggle over the rocks to the sea, only to be picked off by birds once they made it.
My research group gathered the last of our sediment cores today, so now we get to look forward to examining everything under a microscope.
I did a lot of waiting around today. There was no morning snorkel this morning because the student who were dive certified went out on a scuba dive, so I walked around the island and collected plastic. I did finally get to see a spotted eagle ray jump. Clark saw it go under the jetty and we followed it on shore for at least 20 minutes before it jumped.
when low tide finally rolled around my research group went out and collected some sediment cores from shark bay. we spent the rest of the day looking for invertebrates in the sediment using the l;ab microscopes.
This morning we went out to the lagoon to analyze coral bleaching. It was high tide and fairly windy, so no one wanted to get wet. I got teamed up for Russ and we were pretty far away from shore when we realized there was a lot of screaming. We looked back and saw everyone on shore, screaming "shark! Get out of the water!"
Russ and I booked it to shore. At one point he knocked my snorkel pipe out of my mouth and I didn’t even both putting it back in, I just switched to breast stroke and kept going. When we got to shore we learned it was a tiger shark, and we didn’t see anything. Russ went back into the water and finished the lab, I stayed on shore and kept watch.
Later we went on what might be our last outer reef excursion today as well. It was beautiful underwater, but also somewhat windy. I saw my first anemone fish, finally, and I also was finally able to get a video of a turtle. Apparently yesterday my camera wasn’t on for the turtles.
We went to the outer reef again today. Unfortunately the video I took while swimming with the turtle didn't come out, but i did get some good footage of a few other fish. below are a Spotted Eagle Ray, a Moorish Idol, and a Damselfish.
I loved finding polychaete worms, which basically look like beautiful plumes floating out of pure rock, but my favorite thing to watch was the blue streak cleaner wrasses. they set up cleaning stations on the reef and wait for fish to come by and clean them, kind of like a car wash. I passed one little guy with a line of fish waiting for him. They would hold completely still for him and then swim away when he was done.
My new favorite hobby on the island is walking along research beach, where there is a strip of rocks leading to shark bay. these rocks are home to a lot of little species, like Chitons and swift-footed crabs. I like to pick up different shells and see if there are hermit crabs in them, but i give cone shells a wide berth, since they can send out poisonous harpoons. While walking i also saw a Portuguese Man O War, about the size of my thumb, stuck to a rock.
For out lab today we recorded transect lines of fish. We had to swim out into the lagoon at high tide, which wouldn't be so complicated if it weren't for the wind blowing waves over us as we tried to swim out the weighted lines. Luckily my partner, Sean, is much better and diving than me and we were able to record the footage we needed, though I swallowed a mouthful of seawater. We went back later at low tide and were able to wade through the water. We then compared the fish abundance and found that fish were much more abundant at high tide, since there is much more three dimensional space to move around in during high tide. During low tide they hide under the corals since sharks prefer to hunt at low tide.
The more you know.
Today we got to go to the outer reef to snorkel. The weather seems nice up until we got out there, and then it started to rain. The fish didn’t seem to care, though, and we saw clouds of fish. Some of the fish didn’t care about us swimming near them and a few times I was swimming through hundreds of tiny rainbows.
The coral was much more impressive than in the lagoon. There was a fluorescent coral catching the light at the bottom of the ocean, and I saw a few polychaete worms poking up their feathery colors. I was hoping to see some clownfish and while I did not see any, I did see a carpet anemone.
I didn’t stay in the water as long as I would have like to because of how cold it was but I’m looking forward to how warm it will be tomorrow when we do our fish lab in the lagoon.