Hi everyone! Welcome to my very first blog post (disclaimer: I’ve never written a blog before but I’ll do my best) about my soon-to-be tropical field biology adventures in Belize! I, along with thirteen other students and two professors from Rice University, fly out tomorrow (!!!), and I am both excited and nervous.
Oddly enough, a part of both of those emotions come from not quite knowing what to expect. Though I have been speaking with other students who went on the trip last year to try to prepare myself and gain insight on what might be useful to bring/do, I feel like there is no way to completely know what is going to happen these next couple of weeks.
That aside, most of my excitement stems from being able to explore new ecosystems and learning firsthand about a variety of organisms that live in those ecosystems. I hope to learn a lot about the different aspects of the rainforest and the coral reef and be able to identify some species that live in each of them. On the other hand, I am slightly nervous because some of those organisms are definitely not things I would normally prefer to interact with (i.e. spiders and snakes) and because I have no previous experience conducting research in the tropics.
In an attempt to prepare myself for such an adventure, I have been doing some research on my assigned topic (marine debris!) and taxa (echinoderms and beetles!) to prepare for the presentations we will be giving, but I am sure that the actual experience of finding and identifying these species will be quite the learning experience in itself. I have also purchased all of the required equipment (and lots of other things we may or may not need) and practiced with the snorkel gear. Still, I know that despite any and all preparations I could make, there will undoubtedly be surprises once we arrive and are actually immersed in both the rainforest and coral reef.
For right now, my bags are packed, my presentation PowerPoints are finished, and by the time I make my next post, I will be in Belize amongst the rainforest creatures! See you all on the other side! 🙂