Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 3: July 20, 2011

    Last night I was able to get some sleep, except I woke up with a whole bunch of bug bites along my legs. This morning a bunch of us got up a little bit early to exercise. We attempted to play a game of beach volleyball, but a majority of us were being eaten alive by the bugs. 20 flies were swarming around my head and a few even bit me. Just for the record, fly bites hurt like crazy! I then decided to start the trend of wading in the water to get rid of the flies. Surprisingly it worked, and more began to follow. We then played nucome and taps in the water, while splashing around. With the salty smell of the ocean on us, we headed to a breakfast of granola. The granola was obviously homemade and a lot worse than regular granola back in the states. (Wow, I'm really starting to sound like an islander now.) I put some soymilk on my granola (Alli would be proud), and it didn't get any better.

    After breakfast we headed to the Octagon where we learned about different fish species and identification. It's interesting how I remember a lot of the species from last summer. For the research we will each keep track of a few species and now I'm tested with the decision of which fish I want to become best friends with for the next week. They are all so unusual and cool, so the decision will be challenging. As much as I don't want it to, whom I will work with for the project also seems to be playing a factor in my decision. Hopefully I can block that out when I choose. We then found our results from measuring the fish. My average was being off by 2 inches. To improve we went back out to the shipwreck and practiced on the fake fish. Camille was my partner for the snorkel. She's a really nice person from D.C. whom I seem to have a lot in common with.

    On a side note, I am intrigued by the fact that many of the teens with the Earthwatch team did not expect what they are now living in. For instance, many of the girls brought clothes that were way too nice for such work (not to be mean or anything). I find it kind of funny how all my clothes look horrible and ratty and many of the girls are wearing dresses.

    Today we had a lunch of leftovers; nothing here is wasted. Then we divided into two groups to go snorkeling on a patch reef. The group I was in went into the Octagon first and kept reviewing fish Identification. After lots of looking through books and group quizzes, we headed outside and got our snorkel stuff together. We went out on a boat. Their communication system through walkie talkies to know where everyone is at is a really good idea, something I never would have thought about but is really quite necessary. When we got out to the patch reefs we put our snorkel gear on and jumped off the boat into the crystal waters. What lay below was truly remarkable. There were bunches of angel and surgeon fish, bigger than I have ever seen before. As the current took us further out and to more reefs, my snorkel buddy, Betsy, spotted some interesting creatures in the coral. We saw our first lion fish of the trip and a crab. Lion fish are usually killed when spotted because they are an invasive species, but the institute does research on them so we let them be. Upon returning, I headed down to the beach to lay on the sand. This was the first time all trip I was able to just sit down and completely relax. Although it was nice and made me feel like I was on a vacation, I have to remember what I am here to do. Also on the beach I got to talk to Allison some and get to know her. I think we are really similar in a bunch of different ways, but are two people that don't really like to talk about everything we do.

    At the institute, the researchers do a lot of research on Cobia. Because of that, they served us Cobia that they breed here for dinner. I wasn't a huge fan of it and am getting used to eating the salad they serve at every meal. I never thought I would actually get sick of eating a certain food, but I am really getting sick of eating salad. I had dish crew once again after dinner and to be completely honest, I enjoy it. This time I was bleaching the dishes. After the fact I think there was some bleach in the sink but I thought it was dirty water so let it out the drain (which is horrible for their plumbing system) and filled it up with new bleach and water. While doing dishes, music was booming loudly, and I had one of the younger campers next to me splashing dishes into my sink. Someone even came by and splashed me with bubbles. It was one of those moments where you just kind of lose yourself in what you are doing and have a good time.

    After dinner we went into "town", a few miles down the road where there is literally two shops, one of which is air conditioned. It was nice to be in air conditioning for the first time in a while. At the shops we each got special treats and sweets we miss from the "real world". At one of the shops I even tried a frozen drink thing, which ended up being refreshing and tasted like frozen tea and raisins. It wasn't bad at all. Bahamians expect everyone to be friendly and greet them. As we were walking through town (down the main road) there were goats tied up along the way. All the houses on the road were one room sized and very small. This interaction made me realized how simplistic and carefree the lives of the Bahamians are. They live in such a way that they can easily survive and don't have the everyday hassle most Americans face. It is a bitter sweet feeling for them. Along the way, Annabelle, our research leader, ran into a guy she used to live next to. As we greeted him, he told us a story about his life and being a fisherman. He explained how fishing is how he survives and one time he caught a 520 pound fish. While we stood out there mosquitoes came after us and bit us alive. All of us definitely looked like tourists.

    We then made our way back to campus to study and become more familiar with our fish species. Learning fish makes me feel smart, as then I can identify them in the reefs. After a very long night of memorization, we headed to bed.


Highlight: seeing the biggest angel and triggerfish I have ever seen and taking pictures with them

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