January 4

Student_exploring_the_bay

A student pops out of the water to orient themselves while exploring Discovery Bay for the first time.

After yesterdays poor weather, we only hope for some improvement. We woke up early (around 6 am) only to find no relief, the winds remained strong if not stronger. Despite the impudent weather some of the students along with Dr.Peterson chose to go out snorkeling. When the students came back we ate a breakfast of hot dogs, onions and French toast….yes a interesting combination to say the least. There was of course fresh fruit which is always so delicious, especially the pineapples, never a piece wasted.

After breakfast some more students decided to try snorkeling, this time all of the students boasted of there being good visibility. Now I felt it was time for me to give it a shot. We had to wait for the afternoon lecture to pass before we could go out. On this trip Dr. Peterson and Dr.Warren wanted the class to go out as a group and we did. As soon as lecture was over we quickly changed and I being very anxious to get wet was one of the first students in the water. As I entered the water from the dock I noticed only 2 or 3 feet of visibility, frustrated and disappointed I paddled quickly toward the reef. As I paddled out I noticed the water looked as if it were half vinegar half water also the kind of illusion you see when heat rises off hot pavement. I thought it was just the mask I was using, maybe a recent defect. When I emerged from the water I stared into the horizon, all was clear, I could see fine. I couldn’t seem to grasp what was going on. My vision appeared warped under the water yet clear when looking out in the air. It wasn’t until Rachel informed me that there is an underwater aquifer where cold water rises up to meet the warm ocean water and therefore causing this distortion. I swam past this cold water inlet only to find the most surprising thing of all… clear water, with visibility of easily 15 feet reef structure and deeply ruptured, crevassed bottom looked like something you might only see when accompanied by a Discovery Channel voice over. In all this structure we saw puffer fish and other countless tropical fish. This amazed me, in the worst of conditions the reef seemed to maintain its beauty, even in the absence of good lighting. However the current was very strong and after a long snorkeling trip with Chris (cous-cous), Tyler (tomato), Shitaki and Shnoozberry a.k.a the Steve’s (because they’re both named Steve) we headed back inward.

Tyler and I decided to check out what we called incorrectly the "mangrove forest" because there appeared to be a single mangrove like tree. The "forest" as it was called was protected by a rock barrier which we marginally swam over. Crossing over these rocks we found what can only be described as paradise. A small pool of clear aqua blue water, which begged to be illuminated by the non-existent sun. Even without intense sunlight the pool retained a mystical feel, a kind of calm before the storm; with tree branches dipping into the water and overarching rock ledges leaving shallow caves beneath the rock. Schools of fish swam out of these underwater hideouts seemingly to greet us, then just as quickly passing by and then vanishing within the crevices of the rock face. The smaller fish and lone fish held close to the structure, intrinsically spectacular in their beauty and movements. After the mangrove forest we washed our equipment off and headed toward the volleyball court where a few games were played. As we waited for dinner to be ready Chris, Tyler, Steve, Ashley (Asparagus), Andrea and I took turns coloring in this psychedelic pattern from a coloring book, other students played ping-pong or joked among themselves.

We had a delicious dinner of stir fried chicken, beef and vegetable along with mashed potatoes and fresh tomatoes. For dessert, rum-raisin ice cream and cherry jello…I mean it doesn’t get much better than that. Afterward a group of lovely Canadian girls asked the guys if we were interested in joining them to see a Jamaican band, but we told them we had lecture that night and could not attend. However they insisted on talking to our professors claiming they would like lecture to be canceled so that they could take the "American boys" with them. Even though they promised to teach us invertebrate zoology themselves, Dr. Peterson sent them back on their way without a single "American boy" to be taken . The lecture proceeded as planned, after having the lecture slides fire past us (a lot of information in a little time) at 10:00 pm the van arrived to pick the guys up to return to the villa we are staying at. With such a full day behind us, it was only shortly after arrival we quickly feel asleep.

— Adam

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