Originally posted here.
Apologies for not checking in sooner, we just got connected to the internet this evening. The ride over went reasonably well--I started to get seasick despite the pills I'd taken, but Edd (one of our instructors) put an end to that by leading me to the upper deck of the ferry to stand in the wind and my stomach settled immediately. Strictly speaking, we mere students weren't supposed to be on the upper deck (it's for the wealthy tourists going to the Heron Island resort), but nobody raised a fuss so I stayed there for the remainder of the trip. Much more tolerable.
Yesterday was mostly introduction and handing out gear, but at the end I got with a few other students and took a night walk. The night sky here is amazing, and we eavesdropped on a tour guide's presentation on the mythology of the stars. It was interesting, but I found it quite amusing that she needed to explain what "perpendicular" means to a group of rich, old tourists. Nobody asked, it was just part of the presentation, so I gather that a lot of rich old tourists don't know what it means. Wow.
Today we actually got in the water. At dawn, snorkeled on the reef to a wrecked boat. It was my first time in the ocean, and everything went smoothly--everybody made it out and back without incident, though I found myself being pushed by wave action toward a stingray and flailed around a little before getting control and moving off. I was probably in no danger, but stingrays make me nervous. There are all sorts of interesting sea creatures here: just on our first dive, we saw a couple dozen stringrays, two turtles, several guitarfish, and even a blacktip shark. The shark sounds alarming, but it has no particular interest in us.
Then it was off to lunch, and then back in the water for our first experiment. We collected sediment samples from the bottom of the lagoon--a task made more complicated by the extreme buoyancy of our wetsuits. It's great for staying afloat when there's nothing to grab, but not so great for when you have to drive things into the sand at the bottom of the ocean. I ended up using the downward motion of the wave action to help me drive the core samples down. The rest of the afternoon was spent sifting through the core samples picking out and counting tiny worms and snails, and working with the resulting data. Right as my partner and I finished we got word of a late-season turtle hatching, but we were on the other side of the island and didn't get there in time.
There's more to tell, but it's 9 PM now and I'm beat. Blogging is part of our assignment here as Heron, so you'll be hearing from me nightly. Bandwidth is limited, so I'll wait until I get home to post my photos, though I might add a few here or there.
Until next time.