So as our time in Jamaica approaches its end, the group is pushing to get as much out of their experiments as possible. Aron and I are getting a great set of data from our balloonfish and the effects of light and dark, and food consumption on their deflation rate. After scouring for whatever materials we could find to build our set up, our project is in full effect and making great progress (except for finding new balloonfish in the wild – we think we’ve captured the whole population…). Our hands are starting to hurt from trying to free an inflated ball-of-spikes from a net continuously, but some just refuse to inflate at all. In search for new subjects, I found myself at the reef crest once again.
Trying to befriend a school of fish.
Our efforts were almost futile during the day, but success was inevitable during our night snorkel. It’s hard not to get distracted from our search when we run into a sting ray that was more than 2 feet wide, and an iridescent octopus who gave me the battle of my life – he found his way out of the net several times to avoid a great Kodak moment. A new role I’ve gained at night is catching shrimp to feed to our subjects in the wet lab. We successfully caught a handful of shrimp of several species, from banded coral to grass shrimp, which the balloonfish seem to enjoy much more than the snails we glued to string to stop them from being runaway-dinner. In my time here at the reef, I’ve become closer with the environment, and have had much less anxiety about the consequences of touching everything bare-handed. I’m now able to find what I need and catch it if necessary – and I’ll give you the scientific name for it, too. That net has become a third arm of mine.
Up close and personal with brittle stars.
Trying to make the best of what time is left here on the island. I look forward to seeing what my data shows after the week and if we’ve discovered something new about our friend, Diodon holocanthus.