Today we began the second part of the class, also known as “Surf”. It is also the day I formally switch from talking about trees to talking about herbivorous fish, so stay tuned for pictures of fish like Dory from Finding Nemo (i.e. the Blue Tang) and many, many different species of parrotfish.
We left mainland Belize around 9:00 AM and took a boat out to Middle Caye Island in Glover’s Reef. It was a three hour journey, but it didn’t feel nearly as long since we were all mesmerized by the view of the deep blue water, and later when closing in towards the atoll, a crystal clear turquoise. The Glover’s Reef Research Station is located on this island, which is basically self sustaining. It runs on solar power, uses rainwater for drinking/washing and the only toilet are compost toilets. The decomposer part of the toilet is lovingly called “Clivus.” Yes, I too have many questions.
After lunch, we put on all our gear for snorkeling-dive skins, dive booties, mask, snorkel and fins- and jumped into the water. I took my camera with me as well, which is supposed to be waterproof, but once I tried to take a picture underwater, it made a sound like it was dying and abruptly stopped working. I’ll have to check up on that ASAP. We swam over seagrass- I saw a school of medium sized fish (about a foot long) in a green-grey color. I’m not sure of their species, however. Dr. Solomon picked up a starfish out of the grass, which was about the size of a medium plate and golden yellow.
After we felt a little morecomfortable in our gear, we swam out to a deeper area where I finally got to see coral reefs for the first time in my life. I recognized brain coral, which looked like, well, a brain, and was a mustard yellow in color. I didn’t see any herbivorous fish, frankly because I was having some trouble with my mask that lead to my eyes being filled with sea water and me not being able to keep them open until after I took a nap two hours later. However, I was told that people saw a parrotfish, a nurse shark, a sting ray, and fire coral.
After aforementioned nap, dinner and student lecture presentations, we made quadrats, which it’s a square made out of PVC pipes and a grid of criss-crossing string, as well as underwater clip boards, which is basically a regular clip board connecting to a pencil via plastic tubing, and waterproof paper strapped onto the board with rubber bands. We are now ready for Underwater Science™.