Wittenberg's Bahamas field study program provides a one-of-a-kind learning experience for students. This blog chronicles their day-to-day activities in their own words. To skip to Day 1, click here.

Bahama Farewell

June 17th, 2010

We started the day as usual, eating our daily serving of eggs and a muffin.  After breakfast, we boarded the truck for our last snorkel at Snapshot Reef.

It was a bittersweet morning knowing it would be our last swim together as a group.  In just 48 hours we would be at the airport getting ready to start our journey home.  Despite the mixed emotions, we observed all of the corals, fish and organisms we have studied for the past three weeks.  From blue tangs, to Christmas tree worms, we saw it all at Snapshot (Everything, but the Shark that is!).  After reviewing for the final tomorrow, we played a game of tag and enjoyed our last swim in the water here at San Sal.

Buying souvenirs in town

On the way back to the GRC, we stopped in town to pick up a refreshing  Bahamas Goombay Punch and some gifts for everyone at home from the town’s basket weaver.  Lunch today was chicken sandwiches. YUM!  After lunch, it was an afternoon of studying, napping, bracelet making, and finishing any other projects due before we leave.  After dinner, tonight’s class was focused on reviewing for our final.  We watched slide shows of all the organisms we will need to identify and reviewed all the last minute information.  As the night is coming to an end, we can’t believe there is only one day left.  Wish us luck tomorrow!  And we will be home in no time!

Bahamas out!

Our last swim together!

-written by Moira Beebe ’13 & Sarah Reilly ‘13

The End is Near

June 16th, 2010

Since yesterday only half of the class could fit on the boat, today the other half took the trip out to Gaulin Reef.  Unfortunately, one person got a little sea sick…but luckily recovered later in the day.  The group saw a tiger grouper, a six foot wide southern sting ray, a two foot long Caribbean Spiny lobster, and its molt because it had recently molted. 

Caribbean Spiny Lobster Molt

After the snorkel trip, Edbert, the boat captain, took the group to Catto Cay to see nesting brown boobies, noddy turns, sooty turns, and sally lightfoot crabs.  While this part of the class was gone, others stayed at the station and worked on miscellaneous tasks to finish up research or ventured out to North Point to collect more data.

On the Boat to Gaulin Reef

The class reunited at lunch over burgers, fries, pasta salad, and jello.  For the afternoon, we all worked on gathering more data and finishing up our research.  Groups headed to Sand Dollar, Bonefish Bay, Singer’s Point, and North Point, while a few students stayed at the GRC.  After returning to the station, everyone showered and enjoyed some down time until our exciting evening activity.

After dinner at the Short Stop

Tonight there was no class…but typical Bahamian food.  Instead of more lectures, the professors took us to the local bar, the Short Stop, to enjoy a meal cooked by a couple of local ladies.  We had fish, conch fritters, peas and rice, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and guava duff.  This was a much appreciated change of pace.

After dinner, some headed back to the GRC while others stayed for a while to mingle and play card games.  All in all today was another sandy, hot, and sweaty day here on San Sal.  Everyone is starting to get mixed feelings about leaving our home away from home for our real homes.  3 DAYS.  Bahama <3.

-written by Rachael Nuzzo ’13 & Jonny Price ’13

We’re on a boat!

June 16th, 2010

Today was just another Monday here at the GRC…well, kind of. We devoured our breakfast of French toast and sausage that energized us for an exciting snorkel and dive trip out to Gaulin Reef. However, instead of the typical snorkel entrance from the shore, we boarded a boat and headed North towards Gaulin Cay, where we jumped right in off of the boat to explore a new reef. Only half of our group was lucky enough to experience this trip today, while the rest stayed back and worked on group projects (the other half will venture out on the boat tomorrow). Some of the exciting creatures we saw were eels, Hawksbill turtles, barracudas, a variety of parrotfish, and a HUGE southern stingray that could have swallowed us whole! On the way back to the island, we stopped at a nearby Cay that was home to thousands of nesting birds that flew just inches from our heads.

boat ride to Gaulin reef

on Catto Cay

When we arrived back to the GRC, we ate one of our favorite lunches of pizza, pasta salad, and peaches. In the afternoon, we continued back to our daily routine of research in the field while some of us headed to Monument, Snapshot, Bonefish Bay, and North Point. Our research is coming along quite well, and most of us will be finishing our last day of data collecting tomorrow afternoon.

A group collecting data


After showering up, we went to dinner and back to the lab to finish the last of the group presentations on coral. The night concluded with some studying, a visit to the snack shop, and heading to bed to rest up for the next big day out in the field.
Only 4 more days until you get to see our shining, tan faces! Bahamas <3

-written by Lauren Cassel ’12 & Megan Gordon ’12

A Day in San Sal

June 14th, 2010

After a beautiful, bug-free, and breezy night, our day started off as a peaceful Sunday morning with some much needed unscheduled time. Most people caught up on sleep, played cards, or did some extra work on presentations or research projects.

Our daring divers

This left many groups scattered in local areas such as Dump Reef, North Point, the GRC or huddled in the air conditioned lab room assigned to Witt. However, our lucky divers got to experience two deep-water dives to The Wall and Runway 10. The Wall dive was to 70 feet and Runway 10 was around 50 feet. During their dive they got to see huge barrel sponges, a large Caribbean spiny lobster eating a snail, and a 10 foot reef shark. As our morning came to a close, we all gathered back at the GRC for some delicious lunch. Even though it was great, some of us couldn’t help but dream about the fresh, local conch fritters we ate the night before.

 
As we gathered to load on the bus after our lunch break, it was clear how the different research projects had progressed by the various equipment, destination, and sampling techniques being used. The truck was loaded with quadrats, collection buckets, tape measures, super suckers and the usual snorkel gear.

Teamwork- Sarah and Will at Watling's Castle yesterday

Today many groups headed to either Sand Dollar or Bonefish Bay to continue collecting data. Other groups ventured to nearby sites such as North Point to continue transect work and data collection. As the focus shifts away from class trips, research has been the dominant activity during the last week. However with close attention being paid to the reefs in research projects there are still many exciting creatures being spotted. Today the list included medusa worms, a common octopus, a hawksbill turtle, and a yellow-spotted eel.

Snorkel Smiles


In the evening we continued group phylum presentations, learning about plants and arthropods. It is odd to think that we will be leaving this place so soon. At least for us, San Salvador and the GRC have become a hot and sandy, yet gorgeous, home away from home.

-written by Lauren Bien ’11 & Emily Dick ’13

OMG there’s an octopus!

June 13th, 2010

Our day began with a long drive through the wilderness we call San Salvador, entertained by a rendition of “Single Ladies,” performed by our very own Dr. Phillips. Needless to say, he was well caffeinated this morning. We finally arrived at Watling’s Castle which was built in the 1780s for a British Loyalist fleeing the United States. San Salvador was known as Watling’s Island until the Bahamas gained its independence in 1973. Now the bare walls make for awesome group picture opportunities. Some of us took this time to perfect our rock climbing skills.

Group picture at Watling's Castle

 

Rock climbing expertise

 

 

Bloggers in front of the Red Mangroves

After another hot truck ride, we swam and floated in the Pigeon Creek estuary, hoping to see a juvenile lionfish and other baby fish that hide among the prop roots of the red mangrove trees. As we continued to fight the current to stand by the beach, Hannah picked up a shell from which a tiny octopus erupted! We then ate lunch in an abandoned vacation home called Ocean House.

Once again we loaded up on the truck and headed out to explore the rocky intertidal zone of Blackwood Bay. Here we flipped over large rocks and found many new, exciting organisms, including a medusa worm, peanut worms, coral crab, sea hare (a sea slug released a cloud of ink after being harassed by Sarah), and snapping shrimp.

JW posing a Coral Crab

After a fantastic day, we headed into Cockburn Town (pronounced “co-burn”) where we were treated to candy bars, cold drinks, and snacks by our professors. Upon arriving back to the GRC in time for dinner, a few of us were lucky enough to witness J-dub’s phenomenal parallel parking skills.

Class tonight consisted of student presentations that taught us more about the fish and echinoderms of San Salvador.

6 days and counting until you see our lovely tanned selves!

Bahama <3

Stephanie, Hannah, and Amanda

PS. Papa Allbee- Please post World Cup Scores in the blog!

-Written by Amanda Allbee ’11, Hannah Clark ’12, and Stephanie Zmina ’12