This morning we woke up early for a nice run or bike. I, of course, chose to run, as cross country starts in two weeks and I am far from ready to start. A few of us ran from campus to the marina then around the marina a bit and back. During the run, I realized how fatigued I really am. My muscles hurt as I moved my feet. We stopped at the shop in the middle of the run to buy some snacks. I decided to get some postcards to bring home to my family. I also wasn't feeling the best, which was a wake up call for how much training I need to get in, in the next two weeks. The breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes, a special meal for the parents. I also got my first kill in Assassin at breakfast since Abi didn't rub her hands together before eating. Now I have to try and kill Molly. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten her, but wasn't quite sure. After breakfast a few of us visited the campus store to get our souvenirs from the trip. I bought two t-shirts for myself. Buying souvenirs is kind of a realization as to how fast this trip is going and how soon I will be re-immersed into the normal world, where my chance to make a difference in the earth and apply things I learned here comes to play. Yesterday I discovered a small bug bite on my head. I decided it would heal in a day or so and let it be. However, this morning the bite was incredibly swollen so I decided to get it looked at. They ended up draining it and putting some antibiotic on it. Hopefully it will heal soon.
Since the parents are here, we only had access to one boat this morning so our group didn't get to go out. Instead we headed to the ship wreck off the beach to count how many times the parrot fish bite coral in a minute. There was only one problem, we couldn't find the wreck without Annabelle and ended up swimming around for 45 minutes looking for it. While we were swimming I did see a pretty awesome and big ray. Others claimed they saw a shark as well, but, unfortunately, I missed it. We then headed to the wet labs to help Annabelle with some research. When we arrived, Josh wanted some help preparing the fish for our dinner. At the institute they grow fish in tanks then catch and fillet them. Our job was to help get the fish out of the tanks, freeze them to death, and scale them. On one of my first tries, I was able to get the Tilapia pinned to the side of the tank and netted it out, as it flipped its tail wildly, splashing us all. We used a seine net in the tank to make sure we got all the fish. Once the fish were all killed, Josh showed us how exactly to scale the fish with a spoon. The dead fish were quite haunting. Their eyes glared into my own and I felt guilty for what I was doing. The experience really made me think about the food I eat. Even though I am already a vegetarian (I don't eat animal meat), I am strongly considering eliminating fish from my diet. We watched as they filleted the fish and sometimes the guts would spill out. It was quite disturbing, but a good experience, something I probably wouldn't have had a chance to do somewhere else. After we were done scaling fish and cleaning the slime off my hands, we joined Annabelle to help with the behavior experiment with grouper and parrotfish to see how parrotfish react to predators around them. The actual experiment will be performed in March with another Earthwatch group, but we were just testing out the equipment and making sure it was set up correctly.
For lunch today, grilled cheese and pasta was served. The food is getting progressively better. Allison killed Camille in Assassin and now I know Allison has me as the one to kill. After lunch we gathered up our belongings and headed to Poison Creek. Poison Creek is located near Rock Sound on a private property that the institute has special privilege to. On the way out to the creek I was so tried I drifted in and out of sleep. Once we got there, we hiked across death rock, as Annabelle called it. I found the situation of us going to Poison Creek through death rock very unsettling. We set up our transects and got to work. I didn't see any parrot fish which was kind of disappointing. A group of us put our stuff on a rock flat, even though Winston warned us against doing so. When we were done, our stuff was covered in water; I guess we should have listened. Since I got done with my work early, I worked with Gabby to gather depths and GPS locations. We then hiked back to the van and went to rinse off in a blue hole. The blue hole was a big hole in the middle of a forest, that supposedly had fresh water in it. The depth of the hole was 40 meters and nothing could be spotted at the bottom. Jumping into such murky water was quite eerie, but the view we saw was amazing. We quickly got right back out and changed in the forest.
Next, we traveled to the Mission in Rock Sound where the Island School students were presenting their research projects they have been working on for the past few weeks. Once done listening to projects on bonefish, sharks, and other things dealing with life at the institute, we had a delicious sustainable dinner. The fish we scaled earlier were served along with lionfish, cobia, and macaroni and cheese. The meal was really good. My favorite part was the desert of pineapple tart some local Bahamians had made. The air conditioning at the Mission also felt like a great reward. Annabelle then took us to some caves near the location of the blue hole. We climbed through the forest once again and down a ladder, were a really neat rock formation lay. As we walked through, bats few over our heads and mosquitoes were crazy hungry, biting us every few steps. The trip was quick as we had to get back for data entry.
I didn't think data entry would be a big problem, but it turned out to be incredibly frustrating. While I was in the mangroves, I did extra by doing the depths, working with someone who did substantially less than I. I didn't write down all the data I was supposed to, since other people told me different. Annabelle got frustrated with me, and I got frustrated with the people I was working with because the blame was put on me and it wasn't my fault. Although I was really upset, (I take a lot of things personally) the mishap taught me how important communication in the field is. I guess the only thing to do is learn from my mistake and move on. The rest of the night was spent making bracelets and copying pictures that other people took. Through all of this, a dead fish appeared in the sink; we have no idea where it came from. Looking back on today, I learned a lot of new skills I can take with me when I leave the beautiful Bahamas.
Highlight: trying something new and scaling fish and swimming in the blue hole