Today we were able to sleep in which was really nice. Since it's Sunday, much of the campus is asleep so breakfast was layed out ahead of time. We got ready for another day of work and headed to the kitchen. Granola was served and I didn't really feel like eating it so I decided to just sit and wait for everyone to finish. We then rounded up our things for the mangroves to catch and tag some fish. The reason this is necessary is because certain fish, such as school masters and checkered puffers, are found as juveniles in the mangroves, but then disappear and the adults are never usually found on the reef. If we tag them, we can figure out if they just move somewhere else or the fish keep getting preyed on. To catch the fish we used a big net called a beach seine. We would spread the net out through the water and drag the ends together, getting any fish in the area. This practice was successful the first time as we caught a checkered puffer. On the next tries we weren't quite as successful as we kept catching mojorras and needle fish. As we would catch the fish, we would put them in giant coolers to keep them alive. When the fish population turned scarce, we took the net through the mangroves. Once we collected the net, lots of barracudas and needle fish were stuck in it. There we also caught a school master, which was our prized catch of the day. My job through it all was carrying the caught fish to the coolers. Using the beach seine was stressful on the group. Many of us became irritated with one another as some would do their part and watch the net and others wouldn't do their part and became fascinated with the fish within.
After some fish were caught, Annabelle mixed a bright plastic solution and put the solution in a needle. We would then take a fish we wanted to tag, place it in a water solution with anesthetic, and take it out to put on a wet towel. Annabelle would then inject a small amount of paint into their scales. The whole process was really fascinating. I felt as if we were doing surgery on fish, but in the middle of nowhere. I found the job of tagging the fish really interesting and something I may consider for the future. Once the fish were tagged, I held it gently in my hands in water and moved it back in forth to get water running over its gills so it wouldn't die. We then released the bucket of them into the water and hurried back for lunch. I found it frustrating to catch fish. Many of the fish we caught weren't the right type and we didn't have enough time to tag them. I think a lot of the work that goes on out here has to be repeated due to environmental conditions and trying to ensure the health and safety of the animals.
Lunch today was a bean lasanga and watermelon. I really enjoyed it. After lunch we headed to Plum Creek. The water and sand at the creek was similar to yesterday. It was once again a beautiful scene. All the teams went to this creek and we did two sites with three transects each. Camille and I set up one transect and did two others as well. The fish we saw in the transects were mostly juvenile schoolmasters. We did, however, see a wide range of checkered puffer fish. I saw the biggest checkered puffers I have ever seen in my life. Some probably were about one foot long. After recording our fish, we picked everything up and headed back to the vans. At any mangrove site it seems like we have to go on a long hike to get to and from the sites. Annabelle was really proud with our progress and I was happy to know she actually kept this data. The last mangrove survey we did, she didn't keep the data and that was an exhausting survey, which frustrated some of us.
We stopped once again at the store on our way home. I got another cold drink since those are incredibly hard to come by on campus. We hurried and got ready for dinner early, since the Island School students' parents came for a visit and the dining area would be crowded. Due to the parents being in, the food was better than normal. I ate eggplant and cooked carrots. It's weird how the students' parents are here and we participate in activities with them. I feel as if we are ruining their special moments and we don't really fit in, but we all live together and have the same water supply so I guess we are one "happy" family. After dinner Janneke and I entered data from a previous survey into the database. It was a good thing I worked with Janneke since she doesn't understand English the greatest and Annabelle was getting frustrated with her. I felt like a real scientist entering the data.
We then joined the Island School students for their Coffee House, also known as a talent show. Some of the acts were very entertaining such as boys singing "I'm a Barbie Girl". It's interesting how being with the same people for a long time, they start to get on your nerves a little bit. At the end of the show, I was reminded of how to live everyday to its fullest and cherish each moment. This brought me back to reality of being able to work as a researcher as a marine biologist, my dream job. We then headed back to the dorms and watched a movie about the Deep Ocean – how appropriate. Some of us made Bahamian flag tie bracelets with string. I can't wait to sport the new colors when I get home. Now it's time for bed and another fun day awaits for me tomorrow; one in which I will cherish every part of.
Highlight: seeing huge puffers in the mangroves