Well yesterday was another absolutely beautiful day here in Jamica, evidence by the sunburn on my back. After a full morning or research and field work, we went to Brownstown for some street shopping, followed a tour of the Green Groto caves, which we learned from our guide have played an important part of Jamaican history. After that we had a fantabulous dinner at the ULTIMATE Jerk Center, which if you’ve never had jerk chicken you have to try it. Then we celecbrated another week’s worth of hard work with a night out…don’t anyone tell you teachers can’t dance!
As far as work goes, students are seriously settling into their research projects. Many of use are doing surveys on the diversity of Jamaica’s coral reefs, examining either coral, fish, or invertebrates. My project is examining the effects of predation on Brittle Starts on the back reef of Discovery Bay. I’m testing to see whether the bottom substrate effects how fast Brittle Stars are eaten. I’m doing this by using a sewing pin to tether Brittle Stars to on foot of fishing line, then trying the other end to a wire pushed into the reef bottom. I’m examining predation differences between different bottom types and the difference between night and daytime. So I’m putting one group of six stars out in the morning: Two on sandy bottom, two in seagrass meadows and two on rocky surfaces, and then again six at night. I return later in the day or the next morning to see who’s been eaten or lost any legs. Hopefully I can produce some valid results and find differences among sites! But even if I can’t prove anything, this will be a valuble experience in teaching me how to do field work, something I’ve never done before. I think I can say the same for most of the other students as well. I can’t believe we’ve been here for two weeks already, and this last one is gonna fly by. Pretty soon we’ll be exchanging our bathing suits for winter coats (groan), and heading back to Stony Brook for MORE classes (another groan), but at least we’ll have Jamaican tans!