The Final Countdown

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!

Juvenile Queen Conchs were plentiful at Blackwood Bay

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 little guy gave us a show, and even stopped to pose for a few pictures ;-)

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.

Students explore the underside of a rock with JW at Blackwood Bay

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

12 Responses to “The Final Countdown”

  1. Kathy Shingleton says:

    Greetings from California Michelle!

    It’s your loving brother Michael, Holly, Aunt Kathy, and UJ! It sounds like you guys have been having a great time down there so far. When I went home for our last Sunday dinner, Mom read some of your e-mails and I was a little disappointed I wasn’t copied on any of them. I can see who you really love most. But any who, she told us about your hermit crab expedition and I couldn’t help but thinking about when we had hermit crabs when we were little. They weren’t exactly the nicest pet’s we’ve had but then again they couldn’t have been the worst with all the furry creatures that have made our way through the Brumm household. Unfortunately, either Matthew or I accidentally let one loose and we later found him (dead) behind the stove. Also, Holly just told me the only two pets she’s had in her life were two hermit crabs as well! Their names were Shelly and Oceanna. Pretty clever for a little kid I must say. Holly also wants to know if there were any stray dogs you were planning to rescue? We wouldn’t be surprised if you sneak a tiny one in your carryon back home. But everything on the home front is good. Both Holly and Matthew’s graduation went off flawlessly and I was still able to make both even though they were both on Friday. We are now relaxing in California and getting ready for our drive back home (wish me luck). Well, we all miss you and I know how excited you are to get back to hang out with your awesome brother! Talk to you soon,

    Michael, Holly, Aunt Foo, UJ

  2. Diane Ward says:


    Loving the tan babe! I really enjoy these blogs so that I get a taste of what you guys are up to. I especially like it when I can catch a glimpse of you in the picture. I am so glad you have all bonded and are having a good time. Can’t wait to see you Friday and catch up on our three hour drive home LOL!

    We miss you and can’t wait till you’re back – good luck on your test Thursday – I know you’ll do great.


  3. Tiger Volleyball says:

    Dear Friends,

    Greetings from the HPERC!!! The volleyball team is running a three-day camp, and we are missing Hallie. Coach Bill Brown has been constantly reminding us that we need to blog you. Hope you all are having a great time and safe travels back!

    Peace, love, and pull-ups!

  4. Bill Brown says:

    Hannah and Hallie….don’t be kidding around with us about sharks and them being friendly….let’s all just read about it online or in books….little Holly misses you Hannah….volleyball camp just isn’t the same without you either Hallie….you all seemingly have created a bond that will be sharing stories with one another for a very long number of years…..sharks NO MORE!

  5. Linda Crawford says:

    Hey everyone..your trip is coming to a close. Im sure you have formed bonds and friendships that will last a long time.

    Alex.. I read some of your emails to my co-workers..they are all so envious. (except for that dang one wanted any part of THAT!) Dr’s Billups and Fojas said to tell you hello and to leave the bugs in San Sal. Dr. Wukie keeps asking about you as well. (His son made it to the Olympics this year) All the RN’s are wondering how that tan is coming along (they all know your so they are curious.) lol

    Emma looked for you the other day. (she saw your car).

    Everyone is missing you both so much and we can not wait to hear all the stories and see the pictures you (hopefully) took w/ your camera.

    Just 2 more days and I get my hugs and kisses.

    I love you

  6. Diane Ward says:


    I can’t believe you only have a couple more days. Even tho we are missing you like crazy, the time really flew. I love reading the blogs everyday, and catching glimpses of you in whatever pictures are posted.

    It really sounds like you have made some great friends during this trip and some experiences you’ll remember forever! Can’t wait to see you Friday, and hear all the stories on our three hour drive home LOL.

    Work hard on finishing your project and do well on your last test Thursday. See you soon.

    Love you -


  7. Mike Montgomery says:

    Good luck on the final exam Blondie. Sorry you have to return to OH burst leayoga here is little to no threat of being bitten by a shark..

  8. Lisa says:

    Hi Sara!

    Good luck on your exam! Can’t wait to see you on Friday!

    Love you


  9. Lisa says:

    Hey Sara…

    You’ll be home soon….have you Put in your requests for your favorite meals yet with your favorite chef? I’m sure you are all thinking about it!!!!!!



  10. Susie Price says:

    Hello Dani! Thought of you when I saw the turtle picture! I hope you were the one who took it. Good luck on your exam tomorrow! I can’t wait to hear all your stories and see all your pics! It will be back to reality soon, no more sand, beach & sun.
    Love you and miss you!
    Aunt Susie

  11. Mark Grimes says:


    It’s been great to go through the blog this evening – looking at the beautiful photos and reading about all of the tremendous experiences you and your colleagues are having!

    Your mom showed it to me a number of days ago, and I failed to write down how to access it. She showed me again this afternoon. I wish I’d been able to start with you on day one!

    I can only begin to imagine the life-changing times that you and your friends are having. I am very eager to hear about them in person when you return! Please be prepared to share lots of pictures, too! Have a great time during your last few days there. Absorb all that you can! It’s clearly a super experience that you’ll never forget!

    As I said, be prepared to talk about it a lot when you arrive back in Springfield, as I’m eager to listen!


  12. Sarah B says:

    A GREAT blog from two of my favorite girls! Hope you two had fun! (: I can’t wait to see you! Be safe coming home! Love you both! (:

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