Today is one of our most stressful days in Jamaica (yes, those were the words 'stress' and 'Jamaica' in the same sentence). We're taking all of our quizzes and tests covering the massive amount of lecture material we have had so far, as well as species identification. The only thing keeping me sane right now is that at least by tomorrow it will all be done.
Up until this point however it has been a superb experience. I've spent more time in the water than I even knew was physically possible for a human being – to the extent that even when out of the water I still feel like I'm swimming. It's a very odd sensation. So far we have done a great deal of snorkeling in the reef so we could collect animals for our wetlabs and take pictures of the ones we couldn't catch. I've gotten a variety of organisms including pufferfish, urchins, sea cucumbers, plants, and a baby stingray.
<<Picture: Baby Yellow Stingry (Olophus jamaicensis).>>
My favorite animal so far has been my friend the Spotted Sea Hare (Aplysia dactylomela). I named him Steve. Sometimes when I need a break from work, I wander over to the lab to pet him (and occasionally poke him until he squirts out his purple ink).
<<Picture: Steve releasing his purple ink in the tank.>>
By far the most novel thing I have done here to date was begin my training as a scuba diver. I've gone diving twice now (halfway to certification!!) and it is the greatest thing I have ever done. I felt like it would be strange breathing under water with the regulator, but it actually feels oddly… natural. Like I was meant to do it. It's also helped me be more comfortable in open water. I often got very paranoid and felt like posionous/dangerous things were all around me. I always knew it was a silly thought, but now I don't feel that way anymore. Even when swimming by the barracuda, I know he will leave me be as long as I leave him.
<<Picture: Barracuda in the mangroves.>>
After today, things will be a lot more relaxed and I will get to enjoy my surroundings a bit more, as well as get to see other parts of Jamaica. I'm certainly looking forward to it. Until next time, this is Kathleen signing out!