Woke up to the sound of rain this morning. It made it challenging to get up for the morning snorkel, but I eventually did and am grateful for my willpower this morning. We didn't see anything too exciting, but I would've regretted not going for sure.
We also had one last day snorkel which felt strangely chaotic. We went to North Beach for the snorkel and all of the coral was really close to the surface. I have a hard time staying horizontal in the water the whole time so I took a couple breaks on patches of sand. Saw some nice fish, beautiful coral, and a green sea turtle. It was the last snorkel I will have on this island but it was still really enjoyable. I had quite a few laughs during it as well when Brynn, Katie, Clark, and I talked about the struggles of staying on route against the current which ended up shifting our direction completely. I am really going to miss being able to go and see all the sea life and being so isolated on this little island treasure.
Presentations were today and I always do terrible presenting and get all sorts of nerves, but I think it went decently. Afterwards we had the Heronies Awards and I got "Captain America Heroism Award". This was mostly a sarcastic award since it was apparently not believed that I was actually checking to make sure Hailey was ok as we swam to shore to avoid the tiger shark. I definitely I would have been no hero if there was an attack but it's nice for me to think I would have at least tried.
Dinner was absolutely amazing tonight. I had so many potatoes and veggies and the sirloin the steak was so tasty. The food here has just been always super solid and I am so thankful for all the work Pat has done to keep us well fed. Thank you Pat!
We finished up the night playing a game of Paranoia which was super fun and had lots of laughs. It was a great last activity for us all to do together and I am so thankful for the group of friends I've made.
One of the things I'll miss most is the people I've met here, the experience we got to share together, and the laughs we've had together. I know I am going to make an effort to see a lot of these people back in Logan, but some of us have already graduated and I may not be able to see again.
Russ is the funniest dude. He always can handle my jests but will dish them back just as quick. I've also loved his morning alarm song choices this trip. I've always have a good time when I hang out with him.
Kenen is one of the smartest dudes I have met. He is super hard working and never one to complain about it. He's definitely gonna go places in life and be able to do what he loves. Such a stellar guy.
Janna is so damn cool. I am so impressed by her ability to push herself out of her comfort zone and I hope that I can be like her. I love the conversations I've had with her and need her to recommend me some good anime shows to watch. She also writing all the time and I think that's pretty cool.
Hailey has a great music taste, but also has always made sure to create collaborative playlists so that everyone can play some of the music they like which I have really appreciated. She and I had survived the tiger shark together and that really just sealed the bond on our friendship.
Katie is a game mastermind. I remember that one of my first real interactions with her was her destroying me in the game Coup and she did it so sweetly. You can just tell she's a strategic genius. I have had so many good laughs with her and I've told quite a few jokes which got her to laugh so hard which is the most rewarding thing ever.
Clark is so nice and I admire the way he is able to have such good conversation with everyone. He is a super good friend to have and I always appreciate his enthusiasm and personality. He is able to talk about anything and easily strikes up conversation which I find super impressive.
Cat is such a cool lady. She seems to have a lot of life experience and just knows about a lot of things. She takes great photos and is the nicest person in the world. I am disappointed she'll be headed back to Alaska and hope I run into her again in life.
Sam is super snarky and always calls out Trisha which is super funny. He is incredibly smart which I was very grateful for when he was my lab partner for the fish lab. I hope all goes well for him when he makes it back to Cali.
Nora is also an amazing person. She is always trying to make conversation and get to know people. She picked up so many pieces of trash and seems to care a lot about people around her. She is super insightful and I have loved the conversations we have had on the jetty at night.
Jeni is one of the funniest and punniest people I have ever met. Her wit is unmatchable, her style is always on point, and she is also incredibly smart. I admire how much she seems to know who she is and what she wants out of life. I really look up to her honestly.
Sean has been such a good friend and roommate this whole trip. We even hung out in Sydney and he was super fun to tour the city with and has always been great to joke around with. I am really glad he went on this trip as I don't think I would have ever run into him otherwise. I am also excited to keep our friendship going and continue to hang out with him once we return to Logan.
Brynn I have shared so many laughs with. It seems like we can just get each other to crack up very, very easily. She also takes my teasing super well and has the funniest reactions to everything. I have grown to really appreciate her friendship and know that we will continue to be good friends.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention how grateful I am for Trisha and Edd. They made this class possible and it has been the best class and experience I have ever had. Both of them have been the coolest mentors and professors as well. Also such a power couple wow! Edd and Trish are both absolutely hilarious. I will always be grateful for this class and for them and do not even have the words capable of expressing this. You guys are seriously the best and I will continue to come by to visit and catch up with you guys during the school year.
I've loved my experience on Heron Island and hope it is not the last time I visit this island or see the Great Barrier Reef. Ta-ta for now!
I finally got back into the morning snorkel grind. It's been quite a minute since I have, but I figured with our time at Heron Island coming to a close I need to finish strong and get in all the morning snorkels I can. The morning snorkel was not a disappoint at all. It was Russ, Sean, Clark, Edd, and I. We saw all the types of turtle, even a little hawksbill that Edd nearly took out with his body as he swam right over it without seeing it. There was also some big loggerheads just hanging on the floor. We saw some huge groupers and went swimming around and over the ship wreckage. It was a fun technical challenge to have to be so precise with my movements to avoid cutting myself on the ship. We also saw an Emperor that had gotten a bit torn up from a shark bite.
Once we got back I took a shower, had some breakfast, and then settled into the library to finish writing up our research paper and presentation. This went by pretty quickly and Russ, Sean, and I were done a little after noon. Now we just need to practice presenting and splitting up which slides we will cover in our group. We may need to possibly add some additional stuff to it, but it looks pretty good overall.
I finally took a walk around the whole island with Sean and collected some plastic for Pat's plastic challenge. Great to see its entirety and also realize that I have already seen all of it lol. Then Russ, Sean, and I headed to the jetty and just hung out there for a while. Took some photos of the island and got some nice potential profile pics as well. I'm just trying to capture the last couple memories I can get before I say goodbye to Heron. We also took some group photos which turned out pretty adorable, but there's always the awkward poses mixed in with a couple good ones.
Lunch was some good ass pasta. Dinner really hit the spot with some curry. And then the best dessert yet was orange chocolate caramel SMASH which was to die for. Otherwise today has just been full of laughs. I absolutely incapacitated Hailey with laughter when I made a joke about using the bench press on the island aka loggerhead turtles. Then I made Katie totally crack up with another joke. There's just something getting Katie to laugh that feels so good cause she goes all out with her laughter.
Super good day, pretty sad that tomorrow is the last full day on Heron Island and then leaving on the 9th. Toodle-oo!
Not much went on today. We collected all our sediment cores yesterday so today we literally just scanned through them with the dissecting scopes. We had 9 more samples to comb through and it took the whole day. First I had breakfast then I went to the lab to look for invertebrates. Then I went to lunch. After lunch I returned to the lab and looked through the sediment until we finished around 4:30pm. Then I entered data into Excel for our report and presentation.
I took a break to go check out the sunset which was nonexistent due to the clouds. Also the wind was unruly. Then I came back and finished up our graph before grabbing some dinner. Dinner was the best part of the day with some beef, potatoes, and veggies. Now the plan is to finish this blog, continue working on our assignments for a bit, play some games, and possibly check out the stars if the cloud cover isn't too bad. Long day in the lab, but that's not anything entirely new for me. Later haters!
First thing I did this morning was wake up and head straight to breakfast. Brynn, Hailey, Russ, and I had a scuba dive at 9:00am but had to show up a half hour early to get our equipment figured out and to pay for the dive. Before today it's been like 3 or 4 years since my last scuba dive. Luckily scuba certification last a lifetime so there was no worry about that. To avoid having to do a refresher scuba, I lied and pretended I had scuba dived over spring break. Oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I survived so clearly I was at least somewhat competent at diving still. The scuba was great, there's always something so serene about being at the bottom of the ocean and looking up to see the surface above 20-30 meters above. Russ mentioned that it's like you're in space just free floating and I have to agree. We saw quite a few fish we hadn't seen before, some feather stars, and these weird tube things coming out of the ground that I still don't know what they were. We also spotted a white tip, a black tip, and a couple turtles. I'm honestly kinda peeved though cause Edd, Trish, Russ, and Kenen went on the afternoon snorkel and saw a shit ton more. They saw giant lobsters and even a goddamn manta ray. I'm insanely jealous and wish I would've tagged along, but I decided to stick around so Sean and I could collect some sediment cores for our research project.
I finally stopped by the research station souvenir shop to see the different shirts they have so I can officially have Heron Island Research Station branded merchandise. They only had polos, tank tops, and a nice light jacket. I don't really wear polos or tank tops so the jacket was the clear choice. Finding AUD was the real challenge to be able to buy it though as the shop only took cash. Brynn and I went to the resort bar to try to use the ATM but it was out of order. We then asked the reception for the resort and the gift shop there if they did cash back but that was a no go. Russ had mentioned that he had cash and I assumed he meant Australian dollars, but he meant US dollars which was also not of much use here lmao. I basically kept asking people and then Sam was a real homie and hooked us up with some AUD. I paid him back for it though. So then we finally could get the HIRS jackets and join the others that bought them who also had enough common sense to carry some AUD with them to the island.
Once low tide hit, Sean and I went down to the Research Bay to collect some data for our project. Ours is comparing the number of invertebrates in the sediment to two types of coral, boulder (brain) and branching (staghorn), that are either very healthy or doing quite poorly. Fish inhabit coral more so branching than boulder. So we are hypothesizing that the healthy staghorn coral will have less invertebrates surrounding it than the unhealthy staghorn coral. The other hypothesis we are testing is that the brain coral will have no significant difference in the number of invertebrates surrounding it. We were able to collect 3 sediment cores each for healthy staghorn, unhealthy staghorn, healthy brain, and unhealthy brain. We were able to collect data for the number of invertebrates for the healthy staghorn coral and have the rest to do still. We might end up grabbing some more replicates of each depending on how quick it goes tomorrow. Hopefully we end up with good results. If not, then that is also the way of science haha.
I think that's it for today. Lunch was burritos which were wonderful. I could taste the pico de gallo in my mouth for quite a while. Dinner was some pasta and meat sauce, also great. The days at Heron Island are quickly coming to an end and I am going to miss getting three consecutive meals a day. Two meals a day with sporadic snacking throughout the day just does not hit as well. It's about time to go check out the stars tonight and then go to bed. Over and out!
I slept in again today. I keep telling myself that this will be the last time as a recovery day and that I'll go for the early morning snorkel the next day, but honestly every day I've needed the extra sleep. Even this morning I was still pretty groggy, up until during the coral lab.
Hailey and I wanted to get an early jump on starting the collection of the coral health so we got into the water as soon as we could once we made it to Shark Bay. As we entered the water we screamed our battle cry before heading far out to the coral. The coral health analysis was all going well until we heard people screaming. I could only make out them saying there was a shark and then saying it was massive. But then I heard Trish screaming "GET OUT OF THE WATER!" People shouted that there was a tiger shark. Hailey and I sprinted toward the shore. On our way there we both caught a glimpse of the tail of the tiger shark as it travelled out of sight. This just brought on a bit more adrenaline and I was worried it would turn around and attack us from behind. I kept checking back to make sure Hailey was still doing ok and not in danger. Trish kept yelling "DON'T F*CKING LOOK BACK!" But I was ready to jump in and help Hailey if she got attacked in any way. Albeit I would not have been able to help at all so I am very glad that no one got hurt. It was a very close encounter with the tiger shark and was the best outcome there could have been from it. The ironic thing is that Edd just had mentioned in his lecture yesterday night that they had never seen a tiger shark on Heron Island. Well now we all have seen one, the data on coral health at Heron Island for 2019 is totally skewed, and I believe that the lure of my bloody phlegm is to blame. So the full story is that Edd, Trish, and the students on the shore saw a massive shadow of a shark. At first they just believed that it was a huge lemon shark. Edd's voice got more and more shrill as he shouted for Trish to get back upon realizing the giganticness of this beast. Trish caught a glimpse of its face and came out of the water screaming "TIGER SHARK!!!" after recognizing it. Once Trish got out of the water, the tiger shark made a beeline for Hailey and I though we were still completely unaware. It is scary to think though that as we headed to the shore we were actually swimming towards the tiger shark. Still it is better to be confronted with the shark closer to the shore than just hanging back and getting attacked in deeper waters that are much farther out of reach. It was pretty sweet to get a glimpse of it, but just seeing the massiveness of the tail was enough to know that I did not want to see the whole thing. Overall, it was a scary moment for everyone. I got to see a bit of a tiger shark and still got to keep my life and even all my limbs. So really no complaints from me. That was the biggest excitement from today, although anything more exciting would certainly end in my death. We still attempted to go back in the water and finish collecting the data, but Edd soon called us in seeing as it was probably not wise to do so with low visibility and the knowledge that a tiger shark could be near. I was ready and willing to risk my neck for the sake of the coral health data, but this was probably the best decision haha.
The tiger shark did allow us to quit the lab early and make it back to the research station for tea time. So maybe it just wanted to make sure we got to enjoy Pat's muffins today and enjoy a nice cup of tea. After tea time we had our final lecture on the threats to the coral reef. Then we headed out to the outer reefs for one last snorkel. The outer reefs never disappoint with the beautiful arrangements of coral. Many a turtle were spotted throughout our swim, even a giant loggerhead. I always really enjoy sitting in the mix of schools of fish to watch their entrancing synchronized movements. I always expect one to eventually run into me but they are just so elegant with their flow through the water that they avoid contact with each other and anything else around them. It was a great last snorkel through the reefs, but luckily I'll be back one last time for a scuba through them.
Dinner was amazing, the chicken was super moist and tender. I could've eaten so much. And the caramel sauce on the dessert? Uhhhh hell yeah that was amazing. There was lots of laughs tonight to at the table too. So many recountings of the tiger shark encounter. But I love hearing about it and I might also be guilty of bringing it up too often. However, it's a great story and I love hearing everyone's view of it. That is definitely gonna be one of the distinct memories of this trip. Mainly because of the fear it struck in everyone but still no injuries and now we all have a story to tell. That's all for today, gonna check out the stars once again tonight and we will likely be playing some card games or Coup. Until next time
First off, the title is a joke. I slept in this morning till about 7:20am, but I woke up feeling a bit better today. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be completely recovered. For most of the morning I spent my time studying up for the species ID test. I ended up totally acing it and managed to get the 3 extra credit points for complete 100% on all the species. Then Russ, Brynn, and I headed to the resort gift store and snagged some pretty sweet Heron Island Hawaiian shirts.
We headed out to the Outer Reefs again today for a long snorkel. The first spot we went to was Coral Canyons. The name really fits as there were quite a few canyons between these huge mountains of coral. Those were pretty fun to swim through and be surrounded by big ass piles of coral. It's always great to see that part of the reef. I guess we took forever in the water and didn't make it all the way to buoy we were supposed to get picked up but oh well there was a lot of canyons to get check out. The second spot was called The Cliffs maybe? That's what others told me, but our boat driver Tom didn't remember what they were called so idk. That area was pretty cool as well. Saw quite a few turtles and even a white tip reef shark while at the spot.
After all that I had a chill afternoon. Jeni brought this game Coup and it brings out people's true colors. Jeni was a strategic master, but Katie came out with this vicious side I did not expect. She was a ruthless, cunning mastermind and kept taking me out of the game with a gentle smile on her face. All I know is that when I play it, I can no longer trust any of my friends. The game is super fun though and I'm sure it will be played a lot more on this trip. Really helps me to get to know the people around me here.
Checked out the stars again tonight. We laid out on the jetty this time to look up at the stars. I was able to see quite a few shooting stars tonight. Had some good nighttime conversation with Sean, Russ, Nora, and Hailey. Now it's time for one more round of Coup and then time to go to bed. See ya!
I woke up even more congested today, which is just the most exciting thing in the world. It was a running joke though since it's now Russ, Sam, and I. This led to us being grouped together which I was down for. It's been rumored that I am patient zero but I am not open to commenting at the moment. Either way we are looking to recruit and grow our numbers so we shall see who falls victim next. It started off with an early lab to take video of fish dwelling in the reef patches at Shark Bay. I thought it was rather fun to lay out the lines and record along the transect line even with the challenge of the slightly rough waters during high tide. I actually thought it made it feel like serious ecology research. Recording and laying out the transect line was a lot less interesting during low tide. Especially since there were like absolutely no fish hiding in the reef patches which was probably due to me freaking them out as I laid down the line.
With that we just finished up our lab report which didn't take too long. A bunch of us went and watched the sunset on the jetty. Good as always, but the stupid scUber assholes were set up right at the end of it. Their boat is so damn noisy I'm sure it scared away most of the sea dudes, but we did manage to see a turtle in the distance and a black tip swam up below us. The rays have really been loving to lay up near the shore as the sun sets and there was a giant cuddle puddle we could see right by the jetty.
Now just dinner is next and I am sure I will love it. Pat never disappoints. The species ID test is tomorrow and while I am not the best at memorizing them. I am excited for it to be over so that my free time is no longer spent studying or feeling guilty for not preparing for it. We also head out to the outer reef again tomorrow which I'm super pumped for. Here's to hoping I feel better tomorrow, but if not, it'll still be a good day. Later!
I chose to sleep in this morning since I woke up with a sore throat and so I missed the early morning snorkel, along with everyone else apparently. After breakfast we had quite a bit of free time before a reef fish lecture today. I went and laid out on the beach and attempted to study for the species ID test.
We got to take a boat ride to parts of the outer reef which was wonderful. I borrowed one of the GoPros today and got to learn how terrible I am at taking videos. There was such diversity of sea life so hopefully I can rifle through my videos and scrounge up some worthy footage or photos at least. The only problem I faced was that I couldn't equalize cause of this stupid sickness. Oh well I still really enjoyed the snorkel. There were tons of fish everywhere. It was pretty sick. I am seriously pooped though so this blog post is gonna be even less interesting than my previous ones.
Looking forward to dinner, hopefully the stars will be out tonight but there's been pretty heavy cloud cover today. That's all for now kiddos
The day started with an attempt of an early morning snorkel. We went out at 6:30am, but the wind caused the tides to really pick up and sediment was all kicked up in the water. This made it pretty difficult to see anything and the snorkel was quickly called to an end. With that we were up early and just sat outside the kitchen to have some morning tea.
As the tide was starting to fall back, we went out to get data for our invertebrate lab. I was worried that we would have to be full on swimming in the water, but luckily, they had fallen enough to allow us to walk through and push the sediment cores into the floor to get our samples. This in itself was still a little tricky and the waves would push me over as I was kneeling down to push in the core. I am really thankful we were able to just walk the reef because it would've taken much much longer if we were full on in the water. Janna was a great partner to have during this data collection and I was grateful to have her help. We then took the sediment samples back to the lab and looked at them under a dissecting scope to count up all the different invertebrates in them. While it was a bit time consuming it was fun to look through the samples and spot them. I basically only found annelids and arthropods, but it was interesting work nonetheless.
Once we finished up Edd, Russ, Sam, and I went on a later afternoon snorkel. The water was cold, but we were able to see some baby black tips. There was also a big chonker daddy black tip that stared us down a bit as it swam through. Stingrays scattered the seafloor and to avoid the masses of them we ended up going to the jetty to get out of the water. As we headed back to the jetty, one sting ray started swimming towards us and made Russ and I quickly back up to get out of its way. It was good to get back in the water and check out the reef after a failed attempt this morning. The brisk wind was quite chilling once I got out but it was totally worth it.
Then it was dinner and tonight we had beef, some veggies, potatoes, and mousse for dessert. I completely gorged out and had second helpings of everything. That brings an end to the day, now I just plan on checking out the stars after a short walk to the jetty and then going to bed. It was a busy day but another good one. To be continued tomorrow...
Today started off early in the morning with a 6:30am snorkel. I guess technically it actually started at 5:30am with Russ's alarm playing "When I Grow Up" by The Pussycat Doll's (which is how we all should start our mornings). But as soon as we hit the water it was worth. All sorts of rays littered the floor beneath the jetty and many turtles were also spotted also swimming around or chilling on the seafloor. Everywhere you looked there was some majestic little sea critter doing its morning routine. I was partnered with Hailey this morning and the first shark we saw was a white tip. Seven or eight more sharks were spotted throughout the snorkel, but the rest were all black tip. I loved the snorkel though. It seems that the early morning is the time to check out all the sea life.
We also had our first lab and analysis on benthic cover. We ended up just doing a reef walk to get our data so it was finished up pretty quick. It was nice to finally learn and use some real marine ecology data techniques. The lab write up went alright, Macs are kinda crap when it comes to working excel, but we got our graph figured out eventually. It took me a minute to get going as well, I forgot there was actual school work to do for this class and it wasn't just a nice island vacation. But all in all it was still fun to learn new stuff and actually use my brain again.
In our down time Russ, Sean, and I went to check out some of the other shores on the island. We went to North Beach in the early afternoon. It was so beautiful, the sand was super soft, and we basically had that part of the island shore to ourselves. It was great to lay out on the beach and just relax. Later on we ended up checking out Shark's Bay. This was also a nice little private section of the beach. Right away we were able to spot some rays chilling out in the water. Some guy there ended up pointing out all the pumice rock to Nora which we found out was volcanic rock from New Zealand that ends up drifting onto the shore here. Another super cool thing about this island to learn about.
Checking out the sunset again was also incredible. A family of eagle rays swam out in front of the dock. A beautiful sight to see and I plan on watching as many sunsets as I can here.
I did forget to mention that last night Sean and I went out onto the jetty to get a glimpse of the stars. I have never seen so many stars in my life! And the milky way was so sweet to see so clearly! I finally understand the naming of it. It's crazy to think that a ton of the stars above me I've never had the opportunity to see. I do need to figure out where the Southern Cross constellation is in the sky. But I just love how little light pollution there is here so the night sky is fully visible and able to be seen in its full glory. I'm definitely take some time to check out the stars each night I'm here to really appreciate it for the limited time I get to be here.
I just gotta end with some more praise for Pat. I go in for food with high expectations for dinner, but somehow he still ends up exceeding them. The man is a god and a legend. Tonight for dinner we had quinoa and chicken which absolutely smacked.