January 14


Jackie is either enjoying some free time by snorkeling around the bay exploring what’s out there or is working on her research project by collecting animals. Given how much time each student spends in the water, it’s tough to know whether they are working or relaxing.

My day began at 6:00AM this morning with an open water dive with my diving instructor. I am in the process of completing my Open Water Dive Certification, and after this morning’s dive I will only need one more dive to complete my certification! After breakfast a group of students, along with our professors, took a boat trip to Rio Bueno to dive and snorkel. I really wanted to go, but I decided to stay and rest before resuming my research project. Our class began our individual research projects a few days ago. Many of the projects are very interesting, ranging from observing stress effects, food and salinity changes in sea urchins, to herbivory of turtle grass, to identifying the types and abundance of coral reef diseases in a particular area. (Just to name a few!)

My partner and I are studying the effects of captivity of Diodon holancanthus (Balloon fish); particularly studying whether captivity affects the Balloon fish’s ability to respond to a stressor. Our project consists of inducing a stressor (catching the Balloon fish in a net) and observing whether the fish respond by inflating and noting the duration of the inflation. We have been performing these tests every four hours since last Thursday. Thus far we have not seen any correlations or patterns of response of the Balloon fish to stress, but we hope to have more results as we continue our testing until this Thursday. (Hopefully my partner and I will survive until then on 4-hour intervals of sleep!) Unfortunately one of our fish died today (R.I.P. Fish H).

After the boat trip to Rio Bueno this morning, there was lunch at 1:00PM. (The food is amazing-breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) After lunch everyone continued to work on their research projects. My partner and I ran stressor tests on our fish at 4:00PM, followed by an evening test at 8:00PM after dinner. Our next scheduled test will be at 12:00AM.

I cannot sum up the experience that I have had thus far simply within this blog, but I will write this: The study abroad in Jamaica MAR 388- Tropical Marine Ecology course has changed my perspective of the world. Not only is this the first time I have ever gone on an airplane and traveled outside of the country, but this course has introduced me to a new world…the Marine world. I have learned how to snorkel, learned about, as well as seen, many organisms and fish in the marine ecosystem that I would not have been exposed to had I not ventured to take this course. I even climbed all the way up a waterfall at Dunn River Falls! Now I am getting my Open Water Dive Certification so I can enjoy even more trips in the water and appreciate what I have learned through lecture! I am also anticipating the final results of our research project.

Tomorrow afternoon, after morning research and lunch our class will be going to a botanical garden, and I can’t wait! All in all, I am enjoying the course and I am enjoying Jamaica.

Thanks for stopping by!!!


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