Giving back (to Haiti) and leaving Jamaica

If I've figured out how to do the schedule blog postings correctly, this entry will appear while we are all sitting around the Montego Bay airport waiting for our flight back to New York. It's been a great trip and there'll be one final blog post from Prof. Peterson in a few days and we'll post the project abstracts so everyone can get an idea of the research projects that were undertaken here.

We all realize that we are fortunate to be able to travel and work here in Jamaica at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory and the tragedy of the relatively nearby Haitian earthquake has reminded us we have much to be thankful for. We are proud to say that the 2010 MAR 388 course (students and faculty) has made a contribution of $500 (US) [~ 42,000 Jamaican dollars] to the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory's donation package that will be sent to Haiti to assist relief efforts.

Prof. Warren

23 Jan – Saving the best for last

an evening at the Ultimate Jerk and a late night of shenanigans back at
Discovery Bay, many were off to a later start than usual this morning. The
morning itself was uneventful. Some went out snorkeling for the last time in
Jamaica, others worked on finishing up their projects. As for myself, I dragged
myself out of bed at 10, checked my email around 11, posted my 5 best pictures
from Jamaica, and then wandered around until lunch where I beheld a sight that
I and many others had been longing for for so long.  Beef patties! There was enough for all to have
2 and then some, but we soon found out that only half were beef, the other half
chicken. Initially I had grabbed 2 chicken patties, not knowing that the
mysterious green blob on the tops marked them as being chicken, and in a panic
I nearly missed exchanging one of them for a true beef patty. 

The last afternoon at Discovery Bay
was a hot one, maybe the hottest yet, with a high temperature lingering around
87 degrees (or so I was told). After lunch Sumo, Margaret, and I went to the
computer lab/library/classroom to finish up our final presentation. The lab/library/classroom,
which happens to be the only room accessible to us that is equipped with air
conditioning, was bustling with people all afternoon as they tried to finish
their projects and stay cool. As the afternoon wore on Brian put on some South
Park which offered a good distraction for an hour or so.

When dinner finally came it was
clear that the best meals were saved for last. First, beef patties for lunch
and then BBQ chicken and ribs with potato salad for dinner and cherry
cheesecake for dessert! It was a meal of meals and perfect fuel for the work
still to come that night in preparation for final presentations.

Now, as I look down at my unevenly
tanned arms I feel for a moment some regret that I’ll be leaving tomorrow and unable
to tan more, and some disdain for my wetsuit that kept me covered from the sun
while I snorkeled, but neither outweighs the feeling of excitement that I feel
when I think of going home tomorrow. Back to New York where, even though it’s
cold and snowy, the showers are hot, I have my own room, and cough medicine is easily


Margaret snorkeling



23 Jan – Happy Days

Here on the final day, all we have to report is memories. In all honesty the very last twenty four hours of Jamaica is not all that exciting. Stress to complete projects, pack, settle all business definitely holds precedent over goodbyes and final celebrations. Most of us are under rested, and all of us are or were over stressed. But it’s all over now, and now all we have is packing, the last supper and the ride to the airport.


Now I can use these memories to help me predict what I’ll see in the next few hours. First of all, I know that there will be an effort made to enjoy one final celebratory  moment. I can expect that there’s going to be a lot of scrambling to finish packing, but that’s not all that unique, right? Let me tell you what is unique and you won’t find with any group you travel with. I know that we’ll be singing. We won’t be singing well and few will appreciate it, but we will anyway. We will be learning to speak Deutsch, but we still won’t learn it well. I’ll see handstands and dancing. I know that many of us are no longer called by the names we introduced ourselves with. We came as individuals, but we leave as a group; a group that is now looking forward to pizza, cheeseburgers and ribs (again).   


– Jason


23 Jan – OMG Beef Patties

Today started off slow. 
It seems that instead of the usual torrent of people getting up at once,
it was more like a trickle.  The Ultimate
Jerk last night was likely responsible for this change.  Also, people not wanting to get up and admit
that this is the last full day in Jamaica. 
It seems crazy that the adventure is almost over.  There have been many fun and stressful times

The morning involved finishing our experiment.  We weighed our algae (slightly more exciting
than it sounds), and started to compute our data.  Then we went to lunch.  When the food trays were put out, Josh
shrieked a bit and exclaimed, “Beef patties!” 
The infamous Jamaican beef patties were to be our lunch, and everybody
was psyched.  In addition to the beef
patties, we had spicy chicken patties and a bread envelope for them.  It was delicious and everything we had hoped
and dreamed it would be.

After lunch, it was back to our projects.  Everyone (well, almost everyone), kept busy
doing various things for their experiments and presentations.  Before dinner, we settled our bills and were
greeted with another great meal: BBQ chicken and ribs!

After dinner, a large portion of us congregated in the
computer room/classroom.  We were
finishing our analyses, but knowing this is the last night, I guess we wanted
to still be together.  This has been a
great experience, one that I will remember forever.  Night snorkeling, SCUBA diving, Dunn’s River,
Ocho Rios, the gardens, our very own musical group JJ Maxx serenading us in the
bus, Brad’s stories, the baby lion fish that was captured, these are just a few
of the memories I will have of Jamaica.

 Bryan Blod 2 Pic 1

Mmmm… beef patties

Bryan Blog 2 Pic 2

Our little lion fish

– Bryan

23 Jan – We came, we saw, we out!

Man, what a trip! As one of the outsiders, along with my
upstate cohort Ian, I was a bit shy arriving to this course. But was I ever
made to feel welcome with by Stonybrook MAR 388 classmates. We all formed this
dysfunctional family full of acrobats, singers, dancers, weightlifters and even
Disc jockeys. Despite the beautiful weather, today was a quiet day because we
all know it has come to an end, not to mention we were all working on the final.
Everyone is editing their PowerPoints and packing to return to the U.S., but I
can’t help but to feel a little torn. I feel like a found a new place to call
my home in Jamaica and I am very sad to be leaving.  The great thing is I have memories, 750
pictures and some new friends to take along with me back to Brooklyn, ugh
Albany I mean for my last semester in college…

My research partner Megan and I are probably going to hate
even hearing about anything relating to coral or current flow in the ocean, but
we both know it’s worth the late nights, random noises and spacing out for
those amazing grades we will get J.

I can honestly say I am blessed to have been able to attend
this trip. I mean, it was my birthday present seeing my birthday fell on the
very first day. Thanks mommy!  I learned
a lot, am going to live my life a little differently and appreciating the
things I have and the value of a good education.

My professors lectured and broke bread with us and things
got really intense and intimate. As the trip continued to unfold, people grew
closer and bonds were made that I think will be long lasting. It was like all
of the best holidays rolled up into one with the food. I was eating food I only
get on special occasions every single day. Sigh…Bliss. And did a hefty amount
of shopping. My friends will be pleased with their gifts.

I will miss being serenaded by the boys, and joining in with
them sometimes, people screaming to wake up their partners for snorkeling,
diving or research, Captain Morgan (our feline friend), and telling soo many
stories. It was real.

And now some quotes

“Rachel on the rocks”
“Eel tag! The Eel’s it” -Josh

“Yeah (Insert name
“Let’s do the Thalassia” –Josh& Max

“AAAHHHHH” –Avatar                                                                        
“Hah?” –Josh & Max

“Is that the
‘Dj Law’ -Nick

“Does anyone else
have caramel in their brownies?”-Sarah S.  
“OOhh, I have to pee”–Lawrence

Thnks Fr th Mrms DBML!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Ratatouille Rachel-

22 Jan – The Final Stretch to Home(plate)

It’s the day before our departure from the tropics of
Jamaica, and the reefs of Discovery Bay. Some still pale, some rosy, some
burnt, and some well tanned, we are all going back to our winter wonderland in
New York tomorrow.  Yet, this was not
before the much-anticipated Ultimate Jerk!


Before our final (and our only) night out “on the town” at
the Ultimate Jerk, we had a few good hours during the day to gather more
valuable data for our research projects. My partner Sarah and I are working
with the Dusky Damselfish (latin name: Stegastes
) and observing its behavior, particularly its countless expressions
of aggression. Yesterday, Sarah and I swam out to the mangroves and the jetty
where Sarah tallied the number of times the Dusky Damselfish would exhibit a
certain behavior based on an aggression scale from 1-5, and I timed its
reaction rate to other fish and how it responded to them. Working with the
damselfishes is a blast because they are so interactive (but some would rather
call them confrontational). Every time Sarah and I come into close proximity to
the damselfishes, they’ll swim out to us and look at our faces, obscured by our
mask and snorkel.



-Sarah and I doing fieldwork with the Dusky Damsels.


Sarah and I finished our fieldwork only an hour and a half
before the departure to the Ultimate Jerk. We weren’t going to waste any time
getting ready! The girls put on their best outfits, which they saved for this
particular outing. And the boys…let’s just say they looked more put together
than usual. We didn’t know what to expect at the Ultimate Jerk, so when we got
there and everyone was mumbling about how we dressed up to go to a jerk chicken
“rest stop.” But we didn’t care. We were happy we were out of the compound of
DBML for at least a few hours, and not doing something that required us getting
wet. The chicken was delicious, and when supplemented with rice and
peas…Amazing. The best part of the night was when we all loosened up a bit and
danced to a Bob Marley CD that I think the bar purposefully put on repeat for
us for the whole night. Josh also took it upon himself to make sure everyone
had a good time, and that everyone felt like they were part of the group. Thank
you, Josh.



-Swinging hips to “Buffalo Soldier”


It was
definitely a night to remember, a wonderful night to top off a tumultuous 16 days of MAR


22 Jan – Jamaican me Party!

So what can I say? This
has been an amazing trip. I am sad to report that this will be our last full
day in paradise and that the time until our departure grows closer with every
tic of the clock. Last night, we were taken to a local restaurant/hang out spot
known as “The Ultimate Jerk.” The night started with a choice of meat or
vegetables, smothered in delicious jerk seasoning and tangy sauce. After
devouring the extraordinary mound of meat and rice, which could be obtained for
a mere 330 Jamaican dollars aka a little less than 4 dollars American, we
waited anxiously for the bartender to put on some loud Jamaican reggae. Before
we knew it, we were all singing along, albeit poorly, to the smooth sounds of
the legend himself….Robert Nesta Marley.

The night’s intensity
grew and grew as Brad, a man’s man, recited his famous stories of adventure and
mishap with a passion that left everyone around him speechless and waiting to
hear what he would have to say next. Of course, some of the students felt it
necessary to tell some tales of their own. Some of the stories were of life and
learning and others were of well….let’s just say what is said in Jamaica stays
in Jamaica.

When we came back to
the compound a couple hours later, the entire class met at the dock for our last
group hangout of the trip. We were able to shut off most of the light around
the dock area, making the stars brighter and brighter every time a light switch
was clicked off. Even though we have all been working hard on this trip,
studying hard for our exams and thinking about ways to improve our research
project, we were all able to put it into perspective and realized that we were
all young, healthy and sitting in our bathing suits staring at the Jamaican sky
less than 5 feet from crystal clear water. As the group became sleepy, people
slowly made their way back to the dorms and with each and every person that
left, it was apparent that trip, like the night, was coming to a close. This
trip will live in our minds and hearts forever and I am grateful to have had
the chance to know each and every person who was part of 2010’s MAR 388 class.

-Josh Kaufman

 Fun Party....Obviously

Fun Party….Obviously




22 Jan – All good things eventually come to an end…

Yesterday, 5 divers and I went out to Rio Bueno again, but this time, the excursion was not as amazing for me as the first time. The current was very strong, so keeping space and staying put to see things was difficult. But it was our official last dive as a group, so overall, it was a great experience! I got to touch my favorite sponge, Ircinia felix – better known as the “Squishy Cheek Sponge” (so named by Sarah) – for the last time. No dolphins though this time…

Right after the dive, I worked a bit on my project, making an extensive, final snorkel in Jamaica. After taking the rest of the afternoon off to relax, we as a group went to the Ultimate Jerk for some Jerk style cuisine. I ordered the last piece of fish (which ended almost tragically and fatally because Joe, who also is a pescatatrian, had a difficult time letting that go). [Ed: It's true, although some french fries did help soothe my fury.]  Throughout the night, the Jamaican vibe was highly enhanced by the non-stop 3 hours of Bob Marley music. Some of us couldn’t help but break out a move, dragging some less inhibited souls to sway with us to the music.

When we got back, the socializing did not stop. We hung out by the dock and on the jetty throughout the night, watching the clear night sky full of stars, filling the silence with stories and laughter. Needless to say, we all had a very enjoyable evening.
This morning was probably the first morning that I decided to sleep in. I have most of my data for my project, so snorkeling was no longer required. Now I have to put the rest of my presentation together and pack. As amazing as this Jamaican experience was, as the saying goes, all good things eventually come to an end…


Waiting in line for some yummy grub.


Rachel and Kayla (my lovely roommates) and I, being our gracious selves at the Ultimate Jerk.

– Margaret

21 Jan – Rub a Dub Dub, Three Men in a Tub

Our time on paradise island is almost over and we’re all
trying to get the most of the time we have left.

I just went on my first dive as a certified diver at Rio
Bueno.  Now that I have a little more
control over myself and I’m not flipping out over kicking someone in the face
every time I move, I saw a lot more than just coral.  Finally saw my first flamingo tongue snail,
which Ian pointed out to me.  Of course,
I poked it, and the spots moved!  People
make fun of me for touching everything, but there’s something to be said for

Last night, I might have gone overboard with poking
defenseless creatures.  We went out for a
night snorkel.  We didn’t see that much,
but it was a really fun time.  We saw two
octopuses sidling along, walking like crazy monster creatures.  I poked the second one and it hid in the
rocks and wouldn’t come out anymore.  We also
saw three balloon fish and I poked them all, but none of them would puff
up.  After I kind of beat down the last
one, I figured maybe they don’t puff up at night. [Ed: The instructors do not encourage or condone the beat down of any marine creatures.]

Allegra and I also went out to the reef crest after lunch.

Slushie poking something

Allegra took a picture of me poking something.


Can you see the flounder? 
This is after I poked it and made it run away and shake the sand off of

– Sarah S.


21 Jan – Another Beautiful sunrise

 It’s been an exciting
week here at Discovery Bay, our ongoing research projects, our trip to
Cranbrooke, and our excursion tonight to The Ultimate Jerk for the ultimate jerk
chicken dinner.  It’s a local restaurant
with awesome Jamaican cooking (there’s been talk of karaoke and Brad dancing)

     The picture below
is what I woke up to this morning, the view from the jetty at 6:45am, along
with a warm breeze blowing calmly off the sea and crystal blue waters.  And the temperature in New York is What?  It’s almost the end of our time here at
Discovery Bay and we will be heading home to start our spring semester.  And I know for myself, the knowledge and
beauty of Jamaica that I have experienced will not only help me through those
long cold winter nights at home, but stay with me as an endearing memory.


 Lab and blog photos 004

Good Morning Sunshine!