Tag Archives: Questions

Day 7: Introspection (05/22/2017)

Today began with at 4:45 with a sunrise – the first I’ve actively watched in years. I watched it alone, some much needed time to reflect. I felt sheer gratitude to witness such a glorious sight at such a special location.

Later in the morning, my class and I boated out to three different reefs. The boatrides were spectacular, displaying discrete shades of blue. There was a crisp turquoise above sand patches, a deep muted turquoise above patch reefs, a dark royal blue across the horizon, and an electric, almost synthetic looking cerulean a short distance from the boat.

Each reef we visited had it’s own character and noteworthy residents. The first (“The Channel”) had mounds of corals in deeper water. A notable sighting was a cluster of three large gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) that moved in tandem.

The second reef (“The Aquarium”) consisted of shallow depths and very active fish. Two noteworthy sightings were a flounder under sand and a stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) that burped up algae.

Today’s final reef was the same patch reef we visited yesterday and on our fist day snorkeling. The reef appeared more visible and felt easier to navigate. The most unusual animal seen there was a pufferfish (Family Tetraodontidae).

I searched all three reefs for echinoderms. On the seafloor, I found a couple urchin skeletons, maxing at about two-inches in diameter, but nothing significant. Today’s lack of echinoderm encounters is likely because I did not overturn any rubble to look for them.

The afternoon was spent dissecting lionfish our instructors caught during earlier reef visits. It was interesting learning about how invasive species, like the lionfish, have had such harmful effects on ecosystems. It is truly astounding how many ecological and environmental issues humans have created.

Pterois spp. about to be dissected

The world is so big, and I am just one of seven billion humans, which belong to one of six million animal species. Gazing at the sun inch its way across the horizon compels me to think about my place in the world. What issues do I regularly encounter? Do I choose to intervene? How?

Only time will tell how I will respond to the world’s future issues, but until then, I can take time to think. Today, it took a sunrise to force my to take time to introspect. Ordinarily, I constantly look and listen and study, but it is rare that I pause and think critically about the world’s issues and my role in their causations and solutions.
That is something that I want to change.

Day 15: Home bound

We’ve packed and left Glover’s to perform one last tour of the Carrie Bow Cay and a final dive in the Twin Caye mangroves, a habitat with unique saline-tolerant trees that not only serve as a great fish nursery from many ocean fishes, but also as a carbon reserve that takes more CO2 from the atmosphere than many other tree biomes, making their conservation a priority. While the insides of mangroves are oxygen poor and harsh, the edges of a mangrove forest harbor diverse life forms ranging from sponges, to juvenile fishes, to magnificent feather duster worms, and most importantly to me, jellyfishes.

The mangroves are carpeted with two species of jellyfish: Cassiopea frondosa and Cassiopea xamachana. These guys are also known as upside down jellyfishes, since they orient their tentacles upwards to energize the photosynthetic symbionts that live in there, similar to how corals foster photosynthetic algae in their polyps. These symbionts give each jellyfish a different color, ranging from yellow to orange to even green. With the hundreds of jellyfishes that lay on the sea floor, it was almost like a carpet mosaic. Adrienne, one of our instructors this trip, wondered why more jellyfish hadn’t adopted this kind of lifestyle, considering how numerous and successful the upside down jellyfishes were. We also wondered whether these guys could be a transition between sedentary polyps that have symbiotic algae and free-swimming jellyfishes that feed on prey. I need to brood on these questions for a bit, but I’m not sure I’ll find an answer to this evolutionary problem.

For now, I need to consolidate my thoughts on the fact of leaving the country. I’ll make sure to update you all on my final thoughts and musings. Definitely felt a lifetime pass in just two weeks and can’t wait to share all the pictures!