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.

Real Men Make Friendship Bracelets

June 9th, 2010

“CEL-E-BRATE free time C’MON! Well there was a party going on at GRC with bracelet making, music jamming and lots of laughter too.” Today was our first day of what was called “unscheduled free time.” It began with some of the early risers choosing to grab a quick breakfast and attend one of the local Baptist church services. Those who chose to go were welcomed by everyone and had the exciting opportunity to witness a Bahamian church service. Other students didn’t bother setting their alarm clock and enjoyed their extra time for sleep, and then FINALLY decided it was time to put in their first load of laundry. Thank goodness we did to relieve others of our powerful stench that was starting to become deadly.

Yum!


After lunch, most of us headed back to the lab, and to many of the girls surprise walked in on the boys crowded around a table making friendship bracelets. The only explanation they had for this was that, “real men make friendship bracelets.” The bracelet making quickly became contagious, and it turned into a memorable afternoon of bonding with one another, listening to music, but still remaining productive while we worked on our group projects to complete our whopping 45 minute presentation due this weekend.

Working on organism lists

All of our hard work stirred up quite an appetite as we headed over to dinner at 5:30. “Stuffed” with meatloaf and pizza we ventured back yet again to the lab for another one of Dr. Phil’s ever-so-entertaining lectures on reptiles, birds, and such. The night was capped off with the typical activities of euchre playing, a little more bracelet making, and asking final research questions. “We’re having lots of fun, we miss you too, oh how we wish we could CELEBRATE San Sal with you!”

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

Bracelet making

Iguana Hunting – The Act of Hunting Iguanas

June 6th, 2010

After a long day, we started off this morning with a twist. Instead of going out into the field, we got to “sleep in” and attend class in the library. The objective of the morning class was to compile ideas for our looming research project. Some of us were ready with ideas while others spent the morning brainstorming. In our research groups, we met with JW, KR, and Richie Rich to discuss our hypotheses and how we would go about collecting and analyzing our data. It was a nice change of pace of being in an air conditioned library instead of in the sun.

Stairway to Heaven

We headed off to Rice Bay for our afternoon adventure. We began the journey by snorkeling across the bay to a cay called Man Head. Man Head Cay was used as a lookout point for the Lucayans, the native tribe of San Salvador. On our journey we saw a “BIG” Southern Stingray, Great Barracuda, and Sand Tilefish. Once we landed on the lustrous rocky beaches of Man Head Cay we scaled an epic, twenty foot rock face in order to reach the summit.
Once we reached the top, our purpose was to explore the plants in the xeric environment, meaning a water lacking environment. An added bonus to observing the plant life, many of the students embarked on the futile quest of iguana hunting.

Shh! Listen

Few were actually seen, but many were heard. On the southern point of the cay we found remnants of the Lucayans in the form of pottery shards and cut nerite shells. After spending the afternoon investigating the old lookout point, we snorkeled back to San Salvador for dinner.

Man Head Cay

The computers in the library didn’t work too well today, so don’t get too upset if you didn’t receive an email from your favorite Bahamas student. Our evening class with Richie Rich consisted of finding ways to eliminate bias. To illustrate his points, we analyzed our Focal Animal Follow observation data by making pretty graphs.
Bahama <3

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

It's been awhile...

Bahamas Love: A Coco Thunder and Jonny Bravo Production

June 5th, 2010

The Wittenberg Crew

Today started out as one of those days where it seemed like the best part would be when it was time to go to sleep. The once “burst of excitement” and surge of curious energy at the break of dawn seemed to be replaced by sluggishness and even a slight sense of home sickness. This was powered even further by the knowledge that today would be our first full day in the field, meaning we wouldn’t get to return to the “comfort” of the GRC for our usual “old man nap” between morning and afternoon field trips.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

The bright and mysterious paradise we had come to, somehow began to feel like an old oven set to extra crispy. Even Coco Thunder and Jonny Bravo were unable to muster out the usual vocal nirvana used to pep everyone up for the day ahead during the morning truck ride. Right when the Wittenberg Crew appeared to have hit a wall…WE SAW A SEA TURTLE!!! Personally this re-booted our want to learn about this tiny island of San Salvador. After seeing the teenage mutant ninja turtle we visited French Bay. Here we found pelagic fish (fish found in deeper waters normally off the reef) and other interesting creatures of the sea, as well as the largest and most diverse reef we have seen to date. At this site we were able to see a HUGE stingray that looked like a batman vehicle, then we were able to observe an eagle ray that seemed to “fly” majestically through the water, but our favorite parts of the day would have to be seeing the Caribbean spiny lobsters, since they are so good to eat.

Caribbean Spiny Lobster

We also saw a rare and elusive Technicolor zebra striped Dr. Welch.

Technicolor Zebra Stripe Dr. Welch

At the conclusion of our experiences at French Bay, we drove around the entire island. This portion of the adventure consumed about an hour and a half on the “Super Speedway” passing lakes, palm trees and the lovely inhabitants of the Bahamas. Finally we arrived back at our home away from home the GRC for rest and our evening class before starting all over again tomorrow.

-This blog brought to you by: Coco Thunder (aka Will McKelvey ’10) and Jonny Bravo (aka Lewis Hebert ’12)

Don’t forget this is REALLY a class!

June 4th, 2010

 

This morning consisted of some serious truck bonding, which was mostly singing songs…real or made up.

Large swimming Southern Stingray

The whole purpose of the morning at Sand Dollar Bay was to review our fish, coral, and reef organisms for our exam. There were some exciting sightings of a large Southern stingray and the biggest barracuda we have seen yet, at least in regards to girth. However, the further out on the reef we went, the less fish we saw. This was quite unusual, but we did see enough to get a good review in. As the name implies, Sand Dollar Bay has quite a few sand dollars in it; this lead to a vigorous search for them. Let’s just say that it was like Las Vegas; a few people hit the jackpot while most went home empty handed.

The Great Barracuda

As you may recall, yesterday we were at the fossil reef. It turns out we had left our weather equipment behind! Therefore, we made a slight detour to get it back safe and sound. After we retrieved the weather equipment we rearranged our plans to avoid the strong thunderstorm to the southwest. We ended up at Bonefish Bay again to do some final studying on the beach or in the water; whichever we preferred.

Some of the group looking at a mantis shrimp

After the exam, most of us realized how much we learned through hands on activities and can look forward to the many more adventures in the weeks to come.

P.S. Even though we personally do not get on the computers much, the professors show us the blog comments after class each night, so we can see and enjoy them. They are very much appreciated!

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

A Typical Day on San Salvador Island

June 3rd, 2010

7:15 Wake Up

7:30 Breakfast (Pancakes, Bacon, Oatmeal, Toast, Orange Juice)

8:25 Divers meet for equipment at dive shop

8:45 Everyone load onto the trucks

  • FYI…We ride in trucks to all of our sites. The trucks are big pickup trucks with benches around the bed.
  • Today was a very special day. It was Jonny’s birthday. So on the way to the site, while riding in the truck, we all sang Happy Birthday to Jonny.

Moray Eel

Megan, Lauren, Jonny, and Lewis Snorkeling

9:15 Arrive at Snapshot Reef in Fernandez Bay

Stephanie, Rachael, and JB Scuba Diving

9:20 Take initial site observations in field notebooks

9:30 Snorkelers and Scuba Divers explore the reef

  • We saw a Southern Stingray, Yellow Stingray, Moray Eel, and Lionfish

11:00 Everyone meet back on beach

11:30 Depart for GRC

  • On the ride back, it rained. For those of you at home that don’t know what it feels like to be in the back of a pickup truck going 30 mph in the rain…it feels like pellets of hail.

12:00 Arrive at GRC

12:00 Lunch (Tuna Salad, Egg Salad, Chicken Noodle Soup, Pears, PBJ, Deli Sandwiches, Fruit Punch)

FREE TIME!!!

  • Since our days are so grueling, free time is very precious. During this time, most people play Euchre, take naps, study, or shower

1:30 Load Trucks

1:50 Arrive at Fossil Reef

  • Fossil Reef was once an underwater coral reef until the sea level dropped, exposing the reef and all of its inhabitants to the world above the water. This happened 125,000 years ago and since then the reef has turned into a giant fossil.

2:00 Take initial site observations in field notebooks

2:10 Explore Fossil Reef

  • Some of the fossil corals found were Staghorn, Elkhorn, Club Finger, Brain, and Star.

Brain Coral at Fossil Reef

2:45 Take our First Field Quiz

3:00 Walk to Cockburn Town, which is across the street, to shop

  • Cockburn Town is the only town on the island of San Salvador. There is one grocery store, one store that sells T-shirts, and a straw market that sells handmade bags and wallets.

3:45 Load up trucks and leave town

4:05 Arrive at GRC

FREE TIME!!!

5:30 Dinner (Roast Beef, Green Beans, Mixed Vegetables, Salad, PBJ, Peach Cobbler, Birthday Cake)

FREE TIME!!!

7:15 Class Lecture/ Discussion

8:30 Done with Class

  • At the end of class we read all the comments made about the blog. We love all the comments that make us feel connected to our families. Please keep them coming!

FREE TIME!!!

Today was 83 degrees, which is cooler than most other days on San Salvador. Today was the first of two birthdays we will be celebrating here on the island. Jonny turned 19. Today was also the first day that the divers, JB , Rachael, and Stephanie, got to dive. Tonight will be a late night for most as we will be studying for our first exam of the trip.

-written by Rachael Nuzzo & Jonny Price