Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sam and Tyler report from the Bahamas

Hello everyone, this blog brought to you by Sam and Tyler.

Tyler will go first… In the morning we got up around 7. Not too bad (I have some of the only working AC on the boat and my bed is also bigger). Dan Elefante and I could not participate in the first few dives due to projects to do and miscommunication. No big deal. I'm over it. We did get to dive on the site that we were parked on, which was called Devil's Horn located near Hoffman's Cay. This site had massive elkhorn corals that were just awesome.

Healthy stand of Acropora palmata elkhorn corals and Acanthurids (surgeonfishes)

I didn't get to do a lot of diving in this location so sadly all I can really tell you is that the elkhorn was huge. Dan and I successfully caught and dissected some more sharp-nosed puffers and examined their gut contents under fluorescent lighting. The fact of the matter is that Dan and I found a lot of stuff in the gut; stuff that we can't identify.

Catching (left) and examining (right -Tyler) puffer fish! (click to enlarge)

After the work we got a great little nap while the boat sailed over to one of the many areas where the famous big blue holes can be found. I swam back to the boat and got to see upside down jellies and various fish along the way back. I ended the night returning to my double-bed, air conditioned bunk.

Science in the ship salon – surrounded by bunks!

I'll let Sam talk about her day since we had very different days and then we will describe the big blue hole for you.

My day also began at 7 a.m., but unlike Tyler and Dan, I got to get right in the water. Steph and I had prepped our equipment for our experiment the night before. We went down in Devil's Horn to try to find some grazing parrotfish to see what sea grasses that we collected from the mangroves the day before they preferred. The first spot did not work out too well so we moved on to another that seemed to work out better. However, we were running out of air, so we decided to set up our grasses and surface for a half hour to eat some breakfast. After breakfast, we geared up again and headed down to see how much the parrotfish had eaten.

The majority of our tests were ready to be collected but some were still uneaten so we laid down in the sand and watched. Soon there was a group of parrotfish around our experiment. We watched as they looked at and judged the sea grasses, tilted their heads and took out a bite. In no time at all we were back on the surface with all of our samples, ready to lay them out and photograph them so we could determine the area of each sea grass eaten, and from that, parrotfishes' preferences. After our photographs, we set sail for the big blue hole, where we had a lot of fun. Then it was back to the boat for a delicious dinner and a good night's sleep. So by now I'm sure you are all wondering what this big blue hole is and what exactly we did there.

A short ride in the dingy and a small trek over some land and we found ourselves looking over a 25 foot drop into a super mega huge hole in the Earth. This sight was amazing, and although we couldn't SCUBA dive in it we were able to jump the cliff and free dive/snorkel the hole. Most everyone jumped off the cliff into the water. We got pictures and videos.

Mata got some palm fronds and tried to fly. He was successful at falling gracefully except not. Laura managed a graceful high dive. We all got to stay in there for about 45 minutes. You couldn't see the bottom of the hole no matter how far down you swam. The water was probably 95+ degrees on the surface and chilled rapidly at depth. Once we all started getting stung by itsy-bitsy jellyfish we got out of there and went back to the shore where mostly everyone accidentally stepped on upside down jellyfish. We were attacked.

We are sad to realize that today has come and gone already and the trip is half over … but for now, we are off to enjoy the rest of our class. It's a lot of work, but hey--it's worth it!

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment