Today I was a human sacrifice. Remember the Mangroves of Death? We ran through them on our first day on the island. Well, today I voluntarily returned to them in the name of science. Today’s project was examining the way marine debris accumulates on the island, asking what washes up and where, so we wanted to have four sample sites on the island…unfortunately the mangroves had to be one of those sites (or else our data would be skewed and insufficient and that’s just not allowed). Kaela, Amy, and I bravely suited up and filled three garbage bags with flip flops, plastic bottles, toothbrushes, ropes, and everything else in thirty minutes (and also had some pieces of a boat that we had to carry separately). In total our class collected almost 4000 individual pieces of trash (and found that it collects mostly on the windward side of the island because currents).
In the afternoon was dissected some Lionfish that Dr. Solomon and one of our guides had speared themselves while we were doing various other snorkeling throughout the week. My buddies let me use the scissors so I got to cut up the little dude very gently so we could examine his insides (a great improvement from when I dissected a Perch in middle school, accidentally severed the ovaries, and got eggs everywhere). Afterword our guides made some Lionfish ceviche for us, which was apparently very good but I didn’t have any (fish are friends not food, duh).
Today was the last full day on the island. No molluscs today. Everything was done. After dinner we gathered on the dock and had a little party under the stars. We joked about a contested class loudness scale and watched shrimps swarm the dock. We even saw some rays swim by and a giant Nurse Shark. Somehow it was both the perfect ending yet anticlimactic. It was weird to not be working on a project or hiking or snorkeling or filling every last second with “adventure”. But to end as just friends hanging out on a dock underscored the most valuable aspect of this trip: we’ve all been through so much together, and along the way became, well, friends.