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.

Bahamas Love 2: The Honeymoon is Over. A Coco Thunder and Jonny Bravo Production

June 13th, 2010

Today began in much the same way that any other day at the GRC begins. We awoke from our restless sleep after having woken up multiple times in the night due to the thick, moist (ewwwwwwwww) heat and our lovely neighbors reminding us to “don’t stop believing” in A minor at two in the morning. The Wittenberg Crew stumbled in to the 5-star cafeteria where we were greeted to a lovely layout of the “extra deliciousness” we have become accustomed to. For those who believe that the Bahamas trip was nothing but fun and games… YOU WERE WRONG!!!

data collection on the reef

We started today by collecting data for our research projects which we will complete upon returning to Witt in the fall. The majority of the groups conducted their research at sand dollar reef while a smaller group continued on to collect data at bonefish bay. During our data collection we were able to yet again experience the beautiful tropical reefs of San Salvador which keep us so enthusiastic about learning day after day. As our data collecting came to an end we returned to the GRC briefly for lunch before heading back out to the south east tip of San Salvador where we were to swim miles and miles across the thunderous waves of the sea (ok maybe a couple meters or two through calm and shallow waters) from Snow Bay to High Cay. High Cay is the largest of a small chain of cays which consist of High Cay, Middle Cay, and yup you guessed it… Low Cay. High Cay is supposedly where Christopher Columbus first caught a glimpse of the “new world” before making landfall on the main island of San Salvador the next day.

looking at the osprey nest and the ocean

The water along the beaches of Snow Bay reminded us of a warm and welcoming Jacuzzi, which was not as appreciated as you may think, especially on this cool 910 day. As we began the long swim across the bay Coco Thunder and Poseidon became proud fathers of the ocean along the way their sons names were Jeffery and Bumper who were two pompano fish which decided they would accompany the group for the entire swim across the bay. Arriving at High Cay did not come without its casualties; several individuals of the Witt Crew suffered from minor stings from the hydroids hiding in the turtle grass along the way and unhappily found that we had forgotten to bring the vinegar with us on the trip. We then proceeded to hike around the base of the cay to the backside where we hiked up a steep brush covered slope. Upon reaching the summit we observed an osprey nest and the Atlantic Ocean for as far as the eye can see; we could even observe the curvature of the earth from this viewpoint. Looking out across this vast expanse of water knowing the next body of land you would be able to see is Africa made us all feel a little small. After a group photo at the summit we began our decent to the beach where we had left all of our gear after the swim.

group photo on High Cay

However we didn’t leave until resting for a little while in the small tiki hut that had previously been built on the beach. After the long hot swim back to the truck we were running a little late so as soon as we were packed JW showed us his true skills as a NASCAR driver working the truck through its gears as if he were racing in the Daytona 500. We made it back to the GRC only slightly late for dinner but in plenty of time for the first of the group phylum presentations. Bahamas <3.

inside the tiki hut

-written by Coco Thunder (Will McKelvey ’10) and Jonny Bravo (Lewis Hebert ’12)

Once upon a time…

June 11th, 2010

Once upon a time, on an island far, far away a group of Wittenberg students woke up to cloudy skies.  Our group split up once again to continue gathering data.  One group, studying land crabs, remained at the field station while another group doing intertidal work was dropped off at Bonefish Bay.  The remaining people who needed to snorkel the reefs to collect information traveled on to Monument. 

Emily, Moira, and Bien with their homemade data collection devices

The water today was churning and making waves bigger than we had seen on this trip so far.  This made for low visibility on the reefs but we did the best we could.  After a little over an hour, the skies darkened and thunder began to rumble causing the Monument gang to get out early for safety reasons. 

Stormy Weather Makes for Great Pictures Not Truck Rides

We wrapped up our project work and jumped on the truck to get our people at Bonefish.  Miraculously, the rain waited until we arrived back at the GRC to start pouring down.  As people began to line up for lunch, the skies opened up completely and drenched everyone who was waiting.

After lunch the bugs came out in droves and all the students took on various task of studying, working on research projects, or working on presentation projects.  Other people took time out to nap, play cards, or just generally stare off into space contemplating our next bug bite :D   After all the rain today we are all glad to be indoors. 

Stephanie getting a much needed nap

  Research projects seem to be coming along, maybe not with the results that we all wanted, but it is field work after all :D   After dinner we stood in line, again, for some email time.  After being disappointed that our families didn’t email us back (hint hint) we were off to take our next exam!  It seems to be mixed feelings on how well we all did but I am sure we did fine.  Now we are sitting here writing this blog, scratching bug bites (sorry KR), and dreaming of braving the bugs for some much needed ice cream…

Till next time,

Kathi and Jen signing off

P.S.  We didn’t have a lot of good photos from today so we picked one of us from our wall snorkel yesterday :D

Kathi and Jen at the Wall yesterday

-written by Kathi McQueen ’11 & Jennifer Rowland ’11


June 11th, 2010

The day began with high hopes as we boarded the truck to THE WALL. THE WALL for those of you who don’t know is the abrupt drop off that occurs about 500 meters away from our typical snorkeling location, Snapshot Reef. As we snorkeled out, we were interested in the differing habitats of the spur and groove coral reefs and garden eels. And then we reached THE WALL- AMAZING. Intertwined among the various barrel sponges, a spotted eagle ray emerged from the abyss accompanied by a band of southern stingrays. Little did we know, the sea creatures informed Poseidon of the terrestrial visitor. The sacrificial “Awkward Cousin” had pleased Poseidon greatly as he was then able to summon a scalloped hammerhead shark – modern day Kraken, for our viewing pleasure. After the presentation of sheer awesomeness, we had to make it back to the GRC in time for lunch while dodging the insistent curiosity of the barracudas.

The Kraken

Then we ventured to the lighthouse that sits atop San Salvador. The lighthouse dated back to the late 1800’s. We broke up into groups of six people and headed to the top of the lighthouse, which consisted of the ever present pink walls and a small winding staircase. Once at the top, we crawled through a small hole in the wall to the outside balcony in order to soak in the great view and see the kerosene powered light. It was a nice change of pace to be able to see some of history of San Salvador.

Having light, we put it in a house...

After being atop the highest point of San Salvador, we then took the path less traveled which led us into a hillside cavern. Grabbing a hold of a rusty ol’ ladder, we descended into the vast chasm. Once inside, we were continually barraged by kamikaze bats. In full retreat, we headed deeper into the void which was filled with “fresh” water from the rising tide. Wading, swimming, and crawling, we observed endemic and rare white sponges in the water. It was soon realized that the water was not so fresh… With sporadic warm spots and the ever present bat population, the water we were wading through was not Ice Mountain pure. After reaching the final chamber, we then split into two groups, one would venture back the way we came and the other was more extreme. Army crawling through tight squeezes and guano we had our work cut out for us. To get out of the tight passage, we had to dive underwater and through a tunnel following the saving song of JDubs’ voice. There was some speculation and one eye witness account of a zombie sighting in the cave. It was once we reached salvation that we realized the zombie we had seen was in fact our one and only, “Awkward zombie Cousin.” Just another day in the Bahamas….
Bahama <3

-written by Christen Brown ’11 & JB Easley ’13

There are ZOMBIES in the water!

Today’s Tuition: $200… Large Can of Bug Spray: $8.50… JDub going Free Willy style off Coco Thunder: Priceless

June 9th, 2010

If a doctor could diagnose today, it would be “multiple personality disorder!” Looming over the island for the entire day was a grumpy storm cloud that had a nasty habit of ruining the otherwise delightful day.

Even More Quadrats

The morning started as usual: hot, sunny, and sweaty. We spent our time working on our research projects. Some of us stayed at GRC while others went to Bonefish Bay or Monument Reef.
After rigorous data collection from all groups, we hopped onto the truck and headed back to the GRC. A little ways into our drive, we were suddenly pelted with a barrage of stinging rain. JB’s “Rite in the Rain” notebook was soaked beyond repair. A few people held up towels to block their faces from the merciless “sandpaper rain” while others yelled in agony.

Rain Drops Falling on Our Heads

After arriving back at the GRC, we attempted to dry off. On our afternoon trip we headed to the “Grotto.” Grotto Beach is secluded from almost all Bahamian life. The water was the clearest we have seen all trip! Today’s purpose was to relax before the storm of “Quizzes” (do not let the name fool you they are actually midterms), Final Exam, Research Projects and Phylum Presentations begin to remind us that we are still in school :-( !!

Grotto Beach Fun

To relax, we created synchronized swimming teams. The girls made an artsy show, while the guys created an acrobatic one. In our humble opinion and the consensus of the guys, the team of “Coco Thunder,” “Jonny Bravo,” “Boo Boo,” “Spanky,” “Poseidon and “Boop!” won the Gold. After all the fun, videos and pictures that we had at Grotto Beach, we were dragged out by “Mommy,” “Daddy” and “the Awkward Cousin.” As a common occurrence the last few days our truck ride consisted of blistering rain. We made a quick stop in town for supplies for our research projects. To end our day we are sitting here listening to a lecture on corals…as you can tell it is very exciting since we wrote this during it!! Joking; class was fun!!!

Peace Out
Ben and Kevin

P.S. To Parents…your tuition money is well spent do not worry!!

-written by Ben Rausch ’13 & Kevin To ’13

Let’s get it started!

June 9th, 2010

Today was the first day we had a chance to work on research projects. However, it was mostly just trial and error to test different methods for data collection. This helped each group get a better idea of what their specific question would be for the project. To do this, half of the group went to Bonefish Bay, half to Snapshot, and one group stayed at the GRC. Overall, it was a good first step towards the research projects that will continue through the fall semester.

Our Divers preparing for another adventure. (Dr.Phil isn't in this shot but he dove also)

In the afternoon we revisited French Bay on the south end of the island. We saw a Spanish Lobster which is nocturnal so it was a great find to see it during the day; a Yellow Spotted Eel was seen by some snorkelers, as well as a cleaner shrimp on an anemone. Once again, our divers donned their dive suits and tanks for another adventure. The underwater pictures are limited at this time since most of the cameras are currently in rehab.

The truck ride home was quite interesting, to say the least. It involved spotty pelting rain, some serious loss of equipment which led to a few turnarounds and one wardrobe casualty by an unnamed person aka ‘awkward hand.’ But, like most things it ended well with a game and the singing of “Billy Jean” by Michael Jackson just for Dr. Phil.

Some of the group on the truck after the rain.

Wishing you warm weather and some of our bug bites.

P.S. The internet has been quite bad which led to the late posting of the June 6 blog…this may also be the reason for lack of e-mail communication from your student.

-written by Tasha Boerst ’13 & Josh Fridley ’13