Today in Tropical Marine Ecology, we went out into the field and explored the different marine habitats that South Caicos has to offer. We were piled into the back of a pick-up truck where we drove along the coast of the island and stopped at three different snorkeling locations. Just getting to these spots was an exciting adventure. First off were the roads themselves…well I am not even sure I can call them roads. They are more like dirt paths, with areas of extreme flooding. There were times when we got wet in the back of the truck, when we were drudging through the puddles. Furthermore, we had three dogs running along besides our trucks, and they ran behind us the entire journey, which was not by any means a short distance. There were also several road obstacles that we had to face. One of which were wild horses and donkeys. They are seen wandering on campus, in the roads, in churches and stores, basically everywhere you would never expect to see them. Along the dirt road to our snorkeling destinations were Salinas, or salt ponds. These are no longer used to collect salt, and are now home to flamingos. I thought it was awesome to see these pink birds just hanging out on the island. Anyways…the worst and most brutal part of the day was the massive amount of mosquitos. Now I have experienced some pretty nasty mosquitos in my life, but these were the nastiest lil buggers I have ever seen. They were swimming us, at a single moment there could be like 6 sucking away on my arm, with multiple more on my back and feet. It was brutal, between trying to escape the mosquitos and jellyfish, it was an exciting day.
So there is a scene in finding nemo where there are tons of jellyfish are straight chillin in an area of the ocean, and Dory and Marlin (sp?) have to bump against their backs to avoid from being stung. Well m afternoon was straight out of that scene, and I had to avoid like a million jellyfish that were hanging out in the mangroves. These jelly fish are unique because they hangout upside down, with their backs on the sea floor, and their tentacles pointing upwards. They secrete nematocytes, or stinging cells, to stun small fish in order to eat them. They seem pretty harmless just hanging on the ocean floor, but as soon as someone swims over them and kicks aggressively, all of these jellies expel their stinging cells and are propelled upwards in the water. The aggressive kicking also results with sediment being mixed up, so the water gets cloudy and I can’t see more than a foot in front of me. Therefore, there were times where there were stinging, kicked up jellyfish all around me that I couldn’t see. It was a tad nerve-racking but in the end I was fine despite a nasty sting on my lip.
Just to sum it all up
Today is Friday, September 5…my fourth day at SFS, and it has been another spectacular day. After breakfast and morning meeting, we gathered for our course called Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values. This consisted of a two hour walking tour of “The Town” to learn all about the island’s rich history. Most of the island’s past revolves around either salt production, drug smuggling, or fishing for lobster or conch. We saw some historic sites, old homes/ hotels, Salinas (for salt production), flamingos!, some guava bushes that grow locally, and of course some wild horses and donkeys. We also had two courses in the class room (Resource Management and Tropical Marine Ecology) which were actually pretty intriguing. We also had a few meetings about our dive tomorrow, as well as community outreach which is also tomorrow. We will be having a lot of the local kids come to our campus, and I signed up to teach swim lessons! The sunset tonight was breathtaking and overall crazy-spectacular. Do not worry mom, I took plenty of pictures, even though they don’t give it justice. I am so exhausted from the heat and excitement of the day, and I look forward to sleeping in a little tomorrow before my 10:00 dive. Goodnight!