So midterm break is over, and as much as I loved being with my parents for the week I am still happy to return to my home on South. Monday, October 20th I took my flight from Provo to South Caicos after a lovely morning of snorkeling and sun bathing. The flight was one of the more sketchy moments of my trip, but it was such an adventure filled with butterflies in my stomach and a lot of nervous laughter. It was a little precarious when a lady at the airport said “there are too many of you on this flight…too heavy” All I could think was I hope to God no one on my flight lied about their weight, or we are all going down with the plane. Twelve of us stuffed into a tiny one-compartment airplane, where it was literally one hundred degrees. Everyone was dripping sweat and giggling about our extreme lack of space. The flight lasted a mere 15 minutes, and they didn’t even do a safety briefing, and no one ended up buckling because if the plane was going down, we were all going down with it. After arriving to South Caicos, I learned that the “airport” consisted of the worlds smallest runway, a fire engine, and a tiny one-room building with a few workers. After I met up with Molly, who was going to drive me back to campus, I found out that my luggage just didn’t make it. So as it turned out, no toothpaste or toothbrush for the next day, but I made it ok with some Listerine. So I unpacked hastily, than headed to the local bar Trench Town to catch up with my girls Luda and Kirby, who I missed like crazy during break. They have the most hilarious stories from Grand Turk, it sounded like a scene from Spring Breakers. It was so nice to relax and enjoy a beer after a day of traveling. A few kids came out and sat with us so I couldn’t resist taking a million selfies and offering my piggy-back riding services (which they call “donkey rides”) At 6:30, we headed back to the center, where I enjoyed a nice big salad, than I did dishes cause I was on kitchen crew… then it was time to take on the town. It was a ton of fun, we went to trench town and I drank a little more than planned, but “no ragrets” am I right. Before our 11:00 curfew, I decided it would be a great idea to jump into the water off the dock, it was super fun. When I got back to campus, I stayed up till 1 chatting and looking at the beautiful stars from the conch wall overlooking the ocean.
Today was all about DR, or “Directed Research”. We had a few classes on the ethics, methods, and statistical analysis that we will have to know for the research. After lunch, I found time to dead to the dock to tan, jump, and do a little snorkeling. Well… to no surprise I got a little antsy laying in the sun, and decided to adventure a little, so I went to a little beach where I did some shell collecting. After a bit, I got hot so I donned my snorkel gear and went shell hunting in the water. I have so much fun doing this, and I love being underwater so much. The ocean is soo warm and crystal clear, it is an amazing experience. I have such a great collection of shells going right now. Later in the afternoon, my DR group headed to the fishermen piers to get accustomed to where to go tomorrow. Here we were in for a crazy surprise, and saw Rice and his friends who had just speared a tiger shark and was bringing it onto the dock. It was such a crazy sight, and everyone was super excited and the energy was high, so I it got me excited. We watched the fishers cut her up, and seeing its last breaths really upset me. I asked the fisherman why they kill the shark, and if they were planning on eating it. He said they would eat it, but they kill sharks because all the locals are so scared of these sharks. I suddenly got so sad, and realized that this fear is literally killing the population of sharks out here. It is heartbreaking to hear how scared they are of these “unpredictable” monsters. Their fear is intense, so I decided to do a little research about tiger sharks. Here are some facts:
- The only known cases of shark attacks on snorkelers in the Turks and Caicos are a couple of incidents that happened to spear fishers (spear fishing causes blood and thrashing fish, it is illegal here) and the attacks were not fatal
- Over the past five years, there have been an average of 4.2 fatal shark attacks that have taken place each year WORLDWIDE
- Over 200 million people visit US beaches each year, of which about 36 are attacked by sharks, where more than 30,000 need to be rescued from surfing accidents.
- The real threat is humans. For ever one human that is killed by a shark, approximately 25 million sharks are killed by humans.
- Approximately 100 million sharks are taken by fisheries every year
- The tiger shark population has declined by over 97 percent from 1972 to 2000
Now if you aren’t heartbroken, or at least somewhat angered by these statistics, well…I don’t know what to tell you. I am nauseous thinking about the oceans ecosystem and how damaged it is from humans. We are literally destroying the very land we live and depend on, and I don’t know why we feel like we need to consume and take such enormous amounts. I will leave you with these thoughts, and I suggest you are mindful when making dietary decisions regarding marine organisms.