23 Jan PM – Almost there.

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The water here is crystal clear!

We've been here over a week, but it feels like it's only been a few days. We've gone to so many places, Dunn's River Falls, Ocho Rios, and Rio Bueno, to name a few. Now that the big test has passed us, we can focus on our research projects. I chose to do mine on sea sponges, and seeing if they are more productive in one part of the reef than they are in another part of the reef. By the term "productive" I mean how much water they filter.

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Two specimens from my research project.

Sponges are filter feeders which means they get their food by taking particles out of the water and consuming them, but in order to do this they first need to produce a current. Tiny cells, called collar cells, line every pore of the sponge. These cells have tiny flagella attached which move the water through the pores and into the sponge. The filtered water then moves out of the sponge through the osculum. One way to test how fast they move water is to spray dye at the base of the sponge, and see how long it takes for the dye to pass through the sponge and reach a certain point outside of it. I'm going to repeat this process several times to achieve accurate readings.

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The very intricately designed shell of the Kings Helmet (Cassis tuberosa.)

But aside from the research projects, everybody is doing very well. The weather is perfect, the water is calm, and everybody is in a good mood! It sure is going to be a bummer when we have to leave this week, but I'm sure this trip will be a great memory for all of us here.
 
– Tim
 

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