04 January


Anna_urchin

Anna in the wetlab with an urchin (Tripneustes) !

Today was the third day here at Discovery Bay.
We had three lectures, and snorkeling on our own after breakfast, as well as in
the afternoon after the second lecture. We all paired up yesterday to work on
collecting animals and plants that we’ll need to know for the test, and today
we actually began the collecting. Everyone went snorkeling in the morning after
breakfast, and everyone got something from the water. Algae, of course, are the
easiest things to get, since they can’t swim away or prick you. That’s what I
stuck to in the morning, since on the second day of snorkeling I still wasn’t
totally comfortable in the water. It’s quite cold at first and I had to resist
hyperventilating. Anyway, there are lots of interesting types of algae, like Sea
Pearls, that look like shiny bubbles stuck to other types of algae or rocks.
One group (Lisa and Kristin) did manage to get something more than algae – they
caught a burrfish, which is similar to a pufferfish but less prickly. They also
found a cool little anemone with a bright pink body and greenish purple tipped
tentacles. The anemones are everywhere in the reef, and can be very large when
opened up; some I saw were seven or eight inches spread open.

When we
went out later in the afternoon, the water had gotten rather cold [Ed: cold = 75F] but I forced
myself anyway because of the collecting we have to do in order to prepare for
the test. I caught a very big spiky black sea urchin right by the dock, and
then when we were further out, Josh caught a different kind of anemone, with shorter
white spikes and black little feet/tentacles. I also found a
West
Indies anemone, which has greenish short spikes. The urchins are
pretty strange feeling if you let them relax in your hands, because they reach
out their feet and suction on to your skin, and move around a bit by pulling
themselves with their feet.

There are
also sea cucumbers everywhere on the sand in the water, and when you just swim
by them, they pretty much look like huge turds. One of the common names of one
species is “donkey dung.” Basically they just sit there in the water. Boring.
But they are pretty cool if you get them into the wet labs. They move around
and squirt water, and have subtle patterns in their skin. Some of them are
easier to pick up in the water, because they’re softer and conform slightly to
the pressure of your hand, while others are more like wet thick leather, with lots of little suction feet that cling fast to whatever surface they’re on.
They’re sort of like slugs, not genetically, but they way they move – they sort
of slide and inch along slowly. Apparently they are a delicacy in China and are also eaten in Indonesia and Malaysia. Hmm.. not something I’m
going to try!

The weather
has been perfect so far, sunny and warm, and only slightly overcast this past
afternoon. The food is good, though the snack crackers and cookies are a bit on
the stale side. They don’t make coffee all the time in the cafeteria, which
might help before a lecture ( :P) but they do have pretty good tea here, better
than Lipton at least.

Our
compound is smallish, and of course we’re not allowed out, but we have enough
to do. We’re busy enough with snorkeling and identifying what we’ve collected,
and relaxing after our night lecture. Someone brought CatchPhrase and that has
been a big hit. All we need is the marine biology edition to help us study!

– Anna

5 thoughts on “04 January

  1. Thanks so much for the information! It’s very imformative. I’d really like to see some pictures. That would be so enjoyable.

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