As per usual, actually engaging with an issue gave us perspective today. The issue was marine debris. Yesterday, Stephanie gave us a briefing on the topic. It was a great overview of the many different ways in which trash enters the marine system, persists in the system, and is ultimately washed up onto shores across the globe. In the morning, we conducted an experiment around a beach clean up. Ultimately, we asked a question regarding the composition of trash in terms of its material. As we expected, the trash was dominated by plastics by weight and Styrofoam by volume.
What was staggering was just how little of a dent we made in just the four sites that we picked. Add to that the entirety of the island, the entirety of Belize, and then all of the other countries. The scale is just too large to comprehend.
While collecting trash, I noticed that there were so many dried up Gorgonia ventalina individuals. All of this continues to build up my thought that this species is the dominant soft coral on the Glover’s Reef Atoll.
The best part of the day, however, was the night snorkeling trip that we did. It was very logistically difficult due to the dark, the close proximity of the entire group, and the higher levels of suspended sediment. Nonetheless, the dive was great. The community composition was really different. I also saw a slipper lobster!
Tomorrow marks our last full day. I can’t really imagine going to back to the real world and Rice.