Hello friends, families and followers! This is Dani and Hannah reporting on behalf of the GRC adventurers. Today was a very exciting day, and a great start to our final week here on San Salvador. We began our day slightly earlier than normal, loading up on the truck bright and early so we could circumnavigate the island on our way to the tidal pools of Blackwood Bay. Along the way, we made a quick stop along the Pigeon Creek Estuary in order to view the different types of mangroves and the post-Revolutionary War era plantation ruins. Once we reached our destination we took a quick hike through the mangroves and surrounding vegetation and arrived at a vast expanse of crystal blue, knee-high water that we proceeded to explore for the next couple of hours. Some of the group decided to stick to the rocky intertidal areas, and a brave group of adventurers trekked into the waters, where they were greeted by a 5-foot Nurse Shark!
Personally, it was a very exhilarating experience being in the same water as a shark that was almost as long as we are tall. But have no fear parents, Nurse Sharks are friendly and tend to favor the taste of molluscs and crustaceans over a stray group of students.
We wrapped up our morning as the tide began to rise, and we all loaded back up on the truck and headed to Monument Beach for a picnic lunch. After we filled our bellies and made a quick stop in Cockburn Town, we headed off up the road to a new site, Sue Point Reef. We arrived to find the water a little rougher than anticipated, but the adventurers were not discouraged and headed out into the surf to either conduct research or explore the reef.
This being our first time ever snorkeling this site, not even KR, JW or Dr. Phillips knew what to expect. But to our surprise and delight, the coral health research group happened upon a Hawksbill Sea Turtle! This was personally the highlight of our (Dani and Hannah) trip so far, especially since the turtle was not the least bit camera-shy!
Today provided us with a great opportunity to apply all of our identification skills that we have learned through both class and previous field experiences. We were able to test our knowledge with all of the molluscs, algae, corals, arthropods, fish and other organisms seen at both sites. This opportunity was greatly appreciated because although many of us are beginning to shift our thoughts towards heading home to our loved ones, we must remain focused and prepare for our final exam that is taking place Thursday morning. This trip has taught us all very valuable lessons. Whether it’s dealing with adversity or differentiating between a Blue Striped or French Grunt, we all have learned at least one thing that we will remember for the years to come.
As this day comes to a close, we would like to inform our families that we are all having a great time here at the GRC, but are all anxious to return home and share our experiences with you. We appreciate all of your blog comments and emails, and we will see you soon!
by Dani Wert ’14 and Hannah Hupp ‘14