Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 2: July 19, 2011

    Sleeping in a place without air conditioning and bugs biting one every few seconds is unbearable. I have never been so thankful for air conditioning in my life. Even though I was unbearably tired last night, I still couldn't sleep. I woke up multiple times in a hot sweat, my sheets drenched and no longer comfortable. I couldn't fall asleep at 4:00a.m., but of course when the alarm went off in the morning I was exhausted. Regardless, I began my day on the island.

    Breakfast was another meal I didn't quite like, so I ended up with toast – grits isn't my thing. After breakfast we went on a tour of campus. Everything, I mean everything, on campus is recycled. To the point that there isn't even a garbage can available. This really made me think about my lifestyle. If people can live perfectly fine lives without having garbage, maybe my lifestyle isn't as sustainable as I had always thought. Leftover foot is fed to the animals on campus that are eventually slaughtered for food. Human waste fertilizes the plants, where basic vegetables come from to eat. The whole situation is really quite unique.

Next we went into the "Octagon", our local classroom on campus, to learn about measuring fish while doing reef surveys. Then we headed to a lunch of egg salad sandwiches, which were actually really good. I had dish crew, and to my surprise it was enjoyable. Whoever knew making a race of mopping the floor would make the time go by faster? Sure enough, Kyle and I mopped the floor within 10 minutes.

Once done with lunch we headed out to our first snorkel of the trip, what I was a little concerned about. As expected, my mask leaked, but at least I was aware for the next snorkel. This was a practice snorkel from the beach off campus out to a small ship wreck. Near the wreck there were fake fish to work on our measuring skills. I barely got by with my leaky mask. I saw the first fish of the trip. Lots of silversides and grunts surrounded the wreck. After our quick data collection on our waterproof notebooks, we headed back to shore.

After grabbing a new mask, we loaded up the van to our next destination, Four Hole. Here, we snorkeled out between two rocks where many fish resided. The fish were very broad in species and sizes. All of them, however, were ones I had encountered from last summer. Janneke, came across an eel, which I had never before seen while snorkeling. It was small, and multi-colored, but very cool, hidden in the coral. For some reason the rocking of the ocean gets to me even when I am snorkeling and I began to feel sick. This happened today, but I think if I don't wear my rash guard tomorrow the situation will go better.

When trying to leave our second snorkel destination the van got stuck in the sand. I didn't attempt to help get the van out as there were already a wide array of people helping and I felt I would only get in the way. After digging up the tires and placing rocks beneath them (and a little push from my lucky hands), the van began to go. When returning to campus I took my first shower of the trip. Since all water comes from rain water, water conservation is a big thing and I don't think I'll be taking another shower any time soon. The outdoor shower felt divine, however.

At dinner, we ate mashed potatoes and corn. I really enjoyed the meal and met some new people who are at the Institute working on a lion fish project. Most of them were from Canada, and I found their work to be very interesting. I hope someday I can come back here and keep doing research.

We resumed our positions in the Octagon after dinner, where we learned the importance of the research we are doing. To summarize, we are trying to decide the best habitats for fish so that if there can only be certain marine protected areas, we can chose the right one. After playing a tiring game of Apples to Apples we went back to our dorm, to find the pleasant surprise of roaches in our bags. Although they are harmless, I can't get over their size, and they still scare me. I killed two for the group, but there are a lot still roaming, even as I close this computer and try to get some sleep.


Highlight: seeing an eel in the coral

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