Today was our first day of our second academic week, so we got to begin a new adventure in Tourism and Development, while the other two groups dove into Marine Ecology and Sustainable Systems. The Tourism and Development group separated into two groups; one researching sea turtles and the other exploring Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) in the mangrove forests.
In the REA group, we set up seining nets to trap in all organisms within the mangroves. We trekked up the mangrove flat in order to note all of the species living within the ecosystem, and with the help of the CEI researchers, we laid out a 50 meter transect line and used quadrats to measure which organisms were in each area. At first, the work seemed very tedious, but after spending hours with our masks and snorkels submerged in the water, face to face with stingrays, baby lemon sharks, many species of fish, and the occasional lionfish, we learned all about the diversity that the mangroves have to offer. We became engrossed in our work and enthusiastically splashed down the creek in an attempt to corral the species in the net. Unfortunately after a tiring journey, nothing was captured… and after a small moment of defeat, we realized the amazing diversity of species we encountered upstream made our experience completely worth it and that sometimes the best experiences are the ones you don’t see coming.
Similarly to the REA group not everything in the turtle research went as planned but that’s just fieldwork. We were divided into two research groups one which joined the REA group with the seining nets and another that would track and tag turtles in the open water. My group ended up doing a little of both but since the turtles seemed to be a little shy today, we got to bait and set a number of video traps down Eleuthera’s coast. Surprisingly this was one of the most exciting experiences I had that day. Diving down and baiting the traps was much harder than I expected. Not only this but while we were baiting the traps it ended up attracting a 6 foot nurse shark! At fist I was I was frightened by its large size but after observing unthreatening presence I realized it was more afraid of us than I was of it as it quickly swam away.
From these experiences we have learned that not everything in life goes as planned and also keeping an open will help you be ready for anything life throws at you.
Your daily Caciques
Jessie & Graham