Tag Archives: Sunrise

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.

Sunrise + Lionfish + Tourist Tiki

Hi everyone! The sunrise was absolutely beautiful today. The 4:45 am wake-up was definitely worth seeing the sun peeking through the clouds on one side of the island and a perfect rainbow in the sky on the other. I’m going to try and watch it again tomorrow before we leave. 🙂

The rainbow  gently curving out of the clouds
The rainbow gently curving out of the clouds
A sensational sunrise
A sensational sunrise

This morning was spent in the back reef collecting as much biodiversity as we would find and analyzing the health of some corals that had been measured last year to see if the number of live colonies had increased. While we were at the back reef, some exciting things happened. I identified both some live red heart urchins (Meoma ventricosa) and their empty tests in the sand among the seagrass as well as a few more donkey dung sea cucumbers (Holothuria mexicana). I also saw a chocolate chip sea cucumber (Isostichopus badionotus); all of these sea cucumbers were also in patches of sand between coral colonies. The other news I have to share from the patch reef was my sting from an anemone, which burned like fire for a while but now has reduced to a dull throb (tip from the locals: soak stings in vinegar).

What once housed a red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa)
What once housed a red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa)

After lunch, we dissected some lionfish to examine their stomach contents and watched one of our marine safety officers, Herbie, make ceviche out of it. We then took a boat to a tourist island with an adorable tiki hut on the water. All in all, it was a really great day.

A lionfish, captured for dissection and ceviche
A lionfish, captured for dissection and ceviche
Beautiful view from the dock
Beautiful view from the dock just outside the tiki hut