Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 4: July 21, 2011

    This morning Annabelle arranged for those who wanted, to go biking around the island. I, of course, jumped on the opportunity and even showed up a little early. When talking with Annabelle while waiting for the others, I found our discussion quite interesting. I told her about my experience last summer and all of the cool things I saw and did in Bimini. To my surprise, the shark lab we visited there is very connected with the institute and they work together quite frequently. I find it incredible how connected the world really is. I find things and places I love throughout the world (like the shark lab and my experience here) and they are tied together.

    Upon getting our helmets on and figuring our how to use beach bikes, we headed to the marina. Everything there was so pretty. It was the typical Bahamas vacation spot. I took a lot of pictures down there, but that actually isn't what I have lived like for the past few days. The marina was not as earth friendly, however. So there must be a tradeoff I have to make. I can either live in pure pristine and not harm the earth that I am living on, or I can live to the extremity and possibly kill much of the beautiful wildlife around me. In the Bahamas it is necessary to ride on the left side of the road. This kind of messed a few of us up when cars came, but we managed.

    For breakfast French toast was served and it tasted delicious. Camille, Abi, and I ate on the roof top and the sun shining on the ocean made a gorgeous view. As we ate, talked, and took funny pictures, I came to the realization on how much I seem to get along with scientists and people who have similar interests as myself. Scientists are usually really laid back, and I like that about the people I work with here.

    After breakfast our groups of fish were assigned for our day of practice. In the end I picked grunts and angelfish, but ended up with parrot fish because Annabelle knew I could kind of deep sea free dive. I guess this was a blessing in disguise, as now I get to learn fish that I don't know quite and well, a lot better. Team one, consisting of Jen, Camille, Janneke, Alison, Nora, and Winston went out to the patch reefs to work on fish identification with Annabelle. The patch reef was fairly close and our research was only a practice round. I didn't see any adult parrotfish, but did run across a lot of juveniles. Each of us carried waterproof notebooks with us as we swim around so we can tally the type and size of fish we saw. We also learned some techniques that we will be using tomorrow including how to measure reefs and take the flow of the water. Alison and I were in charge of measuring the depth of the ocean from the boat.

    For lunch we had a great meal of quesadillas. We were a bit late getting back, so we missed by the time we were done with our firsts and ready for seconds, all the seconds had been eaten. The quesadillas had beans in some which was different than normal, but actually pretty good.

    After lunch we headed out to Page Creek, the first mangrove of the trip, to practice our surveying skills. When getting out of the van, we saw two juvenile sharks in the water. These were the first sharks I have seen on the trip, and although they weren't swimming next to me, I was still pretty close to them. The hike to the creek was long, but eventually we found the light at the end of the tunnel. The morning group said there was barely a current and it was pretty simple, however, our group faced strong currents, to the point we ended up sitting down for a while to let the tide go down. While sitting, a large blue crab crawled up next to me. Normally I would have been fascinated, but I guess I wasn't prepared and kind of jumped a little bit. Once the current calmed down, we finished our practice survey and resumed our long hike back to the vans.

    Tonight we had a shark presentation. The more and more I hear people talk about sharks, the more intrigued I become with them. I really hope I get to swim next to some sharks on this trip. Being around sharks is remarkably exhilarating to me. After talking and asking questions about sharks, we reviewed our fish species and began playing a game called Kemps. Kemps is often like the game spoons, but when you get the four of a kind, you have a partner you have to give a secret signal to and then they yell kemps in order to win. Alison and I were partners and at first we struggled, but we ended up winning the game. Beginners' luck, I suppose. Tomorrow the research starts; now it's time to become a researcher.


Highlight: floating through the mangroves and seeing barracuda

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