21 Jan – Ladies Night (Snorkel)

After a rain filled day, all the ladies decided to go for a
night snorkel last night. This was one of the prized adventures that anyone
could do during their stay at Discovery Bay Marine Lab. Thus, after hearing all
the raucous and excitement from the past night excursions, my anticipation was
climbing. So, around 10 PM two groups went out to witness what all the talk was
about. My expectations were set very high and I was not going to be fully
satisfied unless I saw an octopus or some strange looking squid swimming
amongst the group.

we entered the water, people were screaming over the large Long Spined Sea
Urchins climbing up the dock walls, as well as the tiny fish that swam towards
our dive lights; and that was just the beginning. Finding one’s path in the
dark is quite difficult especially when there’s 6 females trying to witness the
same incredible balloon fish or lizard fish at the same time, thus getting to
our many destinations was quite comical. A few near drowning mishaps occurred,
along with the destruction of Kayla’s mask. But, that did not prevent us from
continuing on with our mission. We swam through the sea grass beds and lagoon;
got trapped for 15 minutes in between a section of sheltered rocks where we
thought the octopus would be hiding out. There was no octopus, but we did get
to witness schools of minuscule silvery fish that were drawn to our lights.
Photographs were taken of those critters for quite some time.

Next, we had to
get out of the sheltered rock area without getting hit by any coral or large rocks.
That feat was attempted and conquered; then we tried once again to look for an
octopus down by the boat slips and dock, but no luck was in our favor. Lastly,
we went into the lagoon area, on the opposite side of the dock to see if maybe
something interesting was hiding in the crevices. And, we found something- a
large Spotted Sea Hare and a small ray, which is quite exciting to see around
midnight. Unfortunately, that was where our adventure ended, meaning no octopus
or cuttlefish or strange looking creature was seen, but I still had a wonderful
time, spanning the nighttime sea for roughly 2 hours in Jamaica.


– Nicole

21 Jan – Hamburgers Invade Jamaica

So there are three days left here in Jamaica. The nerves
everyone has for their projects ending and starting up school the day after we
get back are beginning to show. Yesterday everyone was running around getting
their data ready for their third presentation update. The morning hindered some
people’s plans because of the torrential down pour.  Melanie’s project, calculating the effect of
sunscreen on sponge filtration rates, required more hands than she has. So my
morning consisted of taking pictures, and starting a stopwatch to calculate the
flow rates. After lunch my partner and I went for a swim out to the reef crest
because we couldn’t poke sponges until 3. I saw two cuttle fish and collected
sea biscuits. We also saw a flounder, balloonfish, and even some squirrel fish
because of the low light from the weather.

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Two cuttle fish! [Ed: or possibly squid]

poked our sponges and the attachment is increasing, unfortunately the most
attachment is happening on garbage. During our first poking the purple sponges
were the most attached but after yesterday the yellow sponges took the lead. We
were working on the power point when one of the guys came in with grocery bags.
The guys have been craving hamburgers and now in the last few days they finally
did something about it. The dive master, Anthony, was kind enough to take one
of them to get hamburger meat and buns. They waited until after the
presentations to start grilling. When the grilling came to an end, everyone
moved to the dock because a bunch of us were going night snorkeling. I saw two
different species of octopus, an eel, a bunch of squirrelfish and balloonfish,
and a barracuda that came at Amber and me as soon as we shined the light on
him. The excitement ended with a freezing cold shower and the thought that
school starts in less than a week.


21 Jan – Coming to an end…

With only two days left we are all starting to feel the last
minute rush of madness and sadness. I can see it now, in less than 48 hours we’ll
all be running around like chickens with our heads cut off finishing up our projects,
cleaning up our wet lab mess, packing our suitcases, checking- in online,
paying outstanding balances(scuba and boat fees, etc), making phone calls,
writing emails, oh, and saying our goodbyes. But we still have two days so I’m
not going to gush about that now.

Yesterday I worked on my sponge project all day. I was
finally able to get a flow rate measurement and begin the experimental portion,
which was very time intensive and inconclusive, but I am hopeful that I will
have better results today. After a long day in the lab we finished off the evening
with a good old American tradition, barbequing. Although the food is great here
and we are yet to go hungry, many of us have been missing the comforts of home,
in particular, the cheeseburger! So thanks to the efforts of some motivated
individuals who coordinated this special event we gorged ourselves with a
classic American tradition with a Jamaican flare (jerk seasoning).

Today will be an event filled day as well. I have to work on
my experiment, get some sun, maybe go for a snorkel, and then prepare for what
we’ve all been waiting for, dinner at The Ultimate Jerk!  I know, where am I going to find the
time!  Anyway, dinner at The Ultimate
Jerk has a reputation of unprecedented fun. Word has travelled far and wide of
Brad telling his animated stories, attempting to dance, and Joe finally letting
his hair down! So we are all looking forward to some comic relief after an
intense two weeks. So they better not let us down, their course evaluations
depend on it! I’m just kidding, but seriously…



Melanie measuring the flow rate of a


 Enjoying a good old fashion barbeque

  – Melanie

20 Jan – The Backstreet Boys Premiere!

The past two days have been very
exciting here on the island!! Yesterday morning was a great dive for all the
divers on the trip with, finally, calm waters and perfect weather. As the
morning ended we were off for our second field trip. This time we went to the Cranbrooke Gardens. The bus ride to the gardens was
exciting, with an almost hour long stop at the ATM, for some much needed cash,
and Max, Josh and Jason shouting half of the lyrics to every song they knew. On
arrival, everyone was ecstatic about the peacocks and we could hardly organize
for a group picture. Finally we were off for our walk through the botanical
gardens and up to the waterfall. The walk was beautiful and we made it to the
waterfall after about 45 minutes. We all stripped down to our bathing suits and
entered the chilly water. Everyone soon forgot about the cold water as we all
were jumping of the rocks and swinging on vines. All this soon ended when Josh
and Max smeared mud on Professor Joe’s back and started a wild goose chase in
the water pool.[Ed: I prefer to think of it as a demonstration of predator-prey dynamics…]

At last we were on our way back to
the bus with a small stop at the gift shop. When we arrived back to DBML many
of us were back to work on our projects. My partner Ian and I were running
around collecting more algae and trying to weigh old algae before our access to
the only balance at the lab was shut down for the night. Rachel and Megan were
off for a nice long swim to the back reef to collect their samples. The night
included Jason, Margaret and Sumo going for a night snorkel, and most everyone
else just relaxing and going to bed early. This morning we all worked on our
projects and went snorkeling. Time is quickly running out here in Jamaica so
everyone is spending most of the final days collecting data for their projects
and enjoying the last of the warm weather.  


 Blog 2 pics 001

The bus ride to the Cranbrooke Gardens         

Blog 2 pics 002

Male Peacock showing off his feathers

– Debbie


20 Jan – A Terrestrial Relief

Today was a good day to follow the
amazing day before it. Early in the morning we set out on pristine water
conditions to our dive site, Pear Tree. This was my 5th dive ever
and my first time doing a backward roll off the boat. It is a very disorienting
experience especially when your mask and snorkel slide off your head. Once in
the water however I knew what to do. The dive was not as impressive as the wall
in Rio Bueno but beautiful none the less. We saw the notorious lionfish, which
is becoming less of a thrill and more of a concern to those who realize its
invasiveness. Personally, I’m never too excited to see them anymore. Upon
returning to DBML we had a brief lunch and stuffed all of the students into a
van for our field trip to the botanical gardens at Cranbrooke.            

I found it somewhat of a relief
being in the tropical gardens with other things than marine life to fix my
attention. Peacocks and Peahens loitered near the entrance, the males
performing their courtship and the females not looking too interested. [Ed: Much like the female-male dynamics in the class.] We even
witnessed the national bird of Jamaica, the doctor bird, a type of hummingbird.
We hiked for about a mile and a half, all the while our very knowledgeable
guide was telling us of exotic plants and their uses to mankind. What I found
most interesting is that the African tulip tree can be used as a cure for pink
eye. At the end of our walk we came to the head of the river and all of us took
a nice refreshing dip in a jungle pool and turns jumping off the adjacent rocks
and vines. 

At night Margaret, Jason and I went
for a snorkel. This was the most worthwhile thing anyone who is passionate
about marine life can do. We saw two octopi, a squid, two stingrays, many
eels, many puffer fish and a few spiny lobsters.  On a whole, today was another exciting and
new experience in Jamaica.

Blog pic


20 Jan – A Day of Days

Our outing to Cranbrooke Botanical Garden was full of
peacocks, bamboo, palm trees and crashing water rapids. We saw an orange tree,
swinging vines, and we ate Begonia flowers (after the tour guide recommended
it.) Lawrence even ripped off a whole branch and ate it like cotton candy. The
guided walk culminated at the riverhead, which was a 12 ft deep pool of cool
freshwater, complete with a waterfall and jumping rock. We were basically in an
enchanted rainforest.


   I was a
little disappointed when the bus that took us to the garden was not pumping Bob
Marley music they way the bus that took us to Duns River Falls was. But, the
guys were willing to provide a soundtrack for the ride. My personal favorite is
Jason’s break down in Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations. I think that is
Joe’s favorite as well. [Ed: No. It was not.]

            When we
returned to DBML, the day was not over for my partner Rachel and I. We still
had to snorkel out to the Back Reef and collect our clod cards that we planted
twenty-four hours beforehand! After getting off the bus and scarfing down some
PB&J we were less than enthused to suit up for our journey. Then, suddenly,
we were overcome with determination. It was our mission and duty to get to
those plaster cubes and bring them back to the lab. We had to do it for
project, for ourselves and for Discovery Bay!! We got SO pumped up, counted to
3 and jumped in the water together. We were racing against the sunset. It was
twilight so all of the creeps [Ed: She's referring to marine creatures, not her classmates.] were coming out of their daytime dwellings to feed.
The Diadema, especially, were emerging and clumped together in spiky villages.
We had three sets of clod cards to collect. The first two were easy to find and
the third gave us some trouble. Upon finding it, it was time. Time for an


          We made it
back for dinner, just in time to hear Brad and Joe talk about their most
embarrassing lecture moments. I felt honored to receive this knowledge, but it
is far to disturbing to discuss here.


~My new home in the Enchanted Rainforest~


~Something really beautiful in the Enchanted Rainforest that
I unfortunately do not remember the name of~


~An enchanted scene from the Enchanted Back Reef~

            Now, I know
I am stealing thunder from previous blogs, but I must say that the dive at Rio Bueno really
was the pinnacle of my experience here. Mind expansion has occurred. I could
have packed my bag, headed home, and been suspended from diving forever and
would have still been smiling feeling totally high on life. Coming out from the
grooves and spurs over the edge of that reef wall to find an abyss of blue
ocean is a vivid image that will be with me forever. As Brad described it, it
was a day of days.

            It’s down
to the wire now, and the finish line is in sight. Two days to finish collecting
data for our projects, one dive away from my certification, one night out for
dinner, one final presentation, and then we head back to New York. This has
been a great trip!




19 Jan – Another Great Day in Jamaica

[Ed: Apologies to Bryan for not posting his blog post on the correct day.]

Yesterday was another great day in
Jamaica.  I woke up still excited from
the night snorkeling I did the night before. 
Jason and I decided that we are going to try to go out for a night
snorkel as much as possible.  Without the
extremely regimented schedule that came with the lectures, I feel like there is
always something I should be doing, but most of the time, there isn’t. [Ed: Actually, there is.]  Much of my day was either on the computer,
researching the Spotted Sea Hare or out snorkeling while waiting for algae to

finally got a chance to snorkel out to the reef crest, and it was awesome.  There is much more life and activity at the
crest compared to the back reef and lagoon. 
It reminded of the type of activity that came out at night, which is a
lot more than the daytime.  After being
out for over an hour, I decide to head back in, but Jason and I are so far from
the dock that I cannot even see any people there.  We turned around to the dock and slowly made
our way back, still admiring everything we saw. 
As we passed over a boat channel, the water got deeper.  Watching the floor of the lagoon drop out
into blue nothingness beneath me was an offsetting, but amazing sight.  After swimming (against a current) for what
seemed like forever, we made it back.

the snorkeling, the experiment Jason and I are doing needed some
attention.  I weighed up algae, which for
some reason, is not as boring as it sounds. 
Then I fed the Sea Hares, covered up a tank, and went to feed myself,
not on algae though.  The food in
Jamaica, as previously stated, is delicious. 
I have never eaten anything like what we're are fed here most of the
time, but cannot get enough of it. 

Immediately following the Jets’ win [Ed: Auuuughghghghghghghg.!] , we played some hide-and-seek.  I could not find good hiding spots
personally, but my team won after three or four rounds.  The day wrapped up with some card games in
the dining area.  I realized I never got
to go out snorkeling that night, but who care? 
I’m in Jamaica, and there will be other chances.

 Bryan blog 1

A view of the Marine Lab from the jetty

– Bryan

19 Jan – Our Epic Adventure Under the Sea

[Ed: Apologies to Melanie as I didn't post her blog on the right day.]

Yesterday we woke up to another beautiful sunny day. A few
of us were motivated by the beautiful weather that we decided to go for a
morning snorkel to the reef crest. I have not yet attempted this venture, so it
was quite a thrill for me. The view from the crest was incredible! The
visibility was still low, but we still saw some amazing creatures, one of which
was a Spotted Eagle Ray! After the morning adventure, my partner Jean and I
worked on our project for a bit. Our project is at a stand -still at the moment.
We are experimenting to see if sunscreen has any affect on sponge filtration
rates. Once the sponges are removed from their habitat they take a little while
to settle before they start pumping again. Since our project is based solely on
sponge filtration rates we could not do any testing yet. We then decided to
take the afternoon off and lay out in the sun, so we didn’t mind the set back! When
things seemed like they couldn’t get any better, the ice cream man came again and
lifted our spirits even more. I know, it’s really been rough here in Jamaica,

This morning was so amazing. We woke up to the perfect day,
the wind was down, the water was still, and the visibility was excellent. The
conditions inspired us all to go on a scuba/snorkel trip outside Discovery Bay
to Rio Bueno.  It was such an awesome
adventure! Upon arriving at the site we were greeted by a sea turtle surfacing
just ahead of us. Once we got into the water the view of the reef was
unbelievable! I can’t even begin to describe it. It was a like an entire
kingdom underwater. The intricate structures, the vibrant colors, and the
diversity of life down there were so awe inspiring. And when things could not have
gotten any better, a small pod of dolphins came up to our boat and bade us
farewell as we were leaving! It was such a fulfilling experience, even if
nothing else happens on this trip I’m still going home a happy camper!

 Melanie snorkeling

Melanie snorkeling at Rio Bueno

Melanie corals

Corals at Rio Bueno

– Melanie

20 Jan – Hot, sunny rays and a walk through Cranbrooke

Yesterday morning, my partner and I went for a snorkel to work on
our projects on mangrove roots.  The
water was as still as glass and the sun’s rays shined down to the sandy
floor.  As we went to our last site
before lunch, I saw a seahorse drifting in and out of the roots.  This is the second time that I saw that
seahorse there; it was so delicate yet so graceful.  I was happy to see it there again because I
really love seahorses; they are very interesting to observe, especially in
their own habitat. 


    After lunch, the
class went on a trip to Cranbrooke botanical gardens.  The first thing I saw when I got out of the
bus was many peacocks; they were all over the place, even on the roofs of the
buildings.  One of them let its feathers
out and it was very colorful and we were all standing there watching it for a
little while.  We also saw a doctor bird,
which is Jamaica’s national bird; it looked like a hummingbird.  We started our mile long walk through a trail
and saw flowers of every color, palm trees, orange trees, cocoa trees, and lime
trees.  The scenery was absolutely
breathtaking, and it felt like we were in a jungle with the canopy of trees
lying over us with the sun peeking through. 


         We were walking
parallel to a river the whole way, and I was watching the blue water
crashing and flowing down the river the whole time I was walking.  One of my favorite parts was when we came to
the white flowers that are edible.  I ate
one along with the rest of the class, and it tasted like sour apple.  I got caught up behind everyone taking
pictures of everything, most of which I haven’t seen before.  The hibiscus flowers were my favorite flowers
to see; they were fuchsia pink and were hanging down.  The last part of the trail we arrived to made
the trip; we came to the part of the waterfall where we went swimming.  The water was trickling down from the rocks
into the calm pool-like area where we were enjoying the cool, crisp,
freshwater.  I jumped off the rocks several
times; it was a ton of fun.  I also
jumped off with my two friends at the same time.  The water was a little chilly at first, but
it felt good after the walk in the hot, humid weather.  Cranbook was gorgeous, and I had a great time
and couldn’t have asked for better weather on this beautiful day.



-Kayla Kraker

19 Jan – Better Dolphins in the Waves (Sleeping through the Dolphins)

After my Pear
Tree dive site mishap on the 16th (I threw up waiting on the boat
for Brad to finish surveying sponge tiles) I am ashamed to admit I was
reluctant to dive again. I missed the dive yesterday and as a result missed the
dolphins, the sort of quintessential Jamaican experience for some. I instead
chose to sleep in and do some work for my project I had been putting off.
Yesterday for the most part was spent doing research projects in and around the
lagoon. I know some people went out over the reef crest where the waves break
before entering the lagoon and were pleased to see a sea turtle hanging around
out there.

It seems odd to
me that this trip will have to end at some point, as if now that I’ve been here
we’ll always be here. We all seemed to adjust so quickly that the previous
weeks of vacation seem as removed as any from years previous or high school.
Most of the projects people are doing have become stable enough to allow for
brief setup periods followed by waiting. My personal project has to do with
examining the relationship between Porcelain Crabs and Anemones, and now that
the bulk of the collecting anemones and crabs have been completed, it is only a
matter of setting up the specific numbers of each and observing the reactions.
Overall tensions seem low, people are friendly and everyone seems to be getting
along well. I sense a vibe from those with significant others back home that
they are getting lonely; however, I think that those without feel as though
they could spend months here and feel at home. I noticed that the phantom cell
phone vibration in my pocket has stopped and I am trying to take that as a sign
that I am now almost completely “unplugged” (not to sound too matrix-esque).
The lifestyle here is just so different form how I live at home, without any TV
or electronic distractions [Ed: except for each student spending lots of time on facebook…]  I find myself really able to just sit and relax. I
have looked at the stars every night they have been out since being here and
seen a multitude of shooting stars.

Today I finally
built up the courage to go scuba diving again and had my deepest dive yet. It was pretty exciting to see some of the bigger reef fish that are
absent from this area. And when we were not looking at the reef creatures we
amused ourselves. It was a nice dive and a good way to get over my slight
fear of puking again. Anyways the blog is due in fifteen minutes so….


– Max