Now that we've all been back in NY for a couple of days and have hopefully adjusted to non-80F water/air temperatures, Brad and I (and Amber) would like to thank all the students in this year's MAR 388 course for an excellent effort during the course. We'll be posting all of the project abstracts here so you can see what the students found out during their research.
Profs. Joe and Brad
Last Full Day at DBML
We are set to head to the airport around noon tomorrow, so today everyone is finishing up their projects, preparing for tomorrow’s final presentations, and trying to enjoy the last bits of sunshine and warm weather before heading back to New York. Last evening, a few of the newly certified divers took their first night dive past the reef crest, and were able to see spiny lobsters, a huge princess parrotfish, and bioluminescent organisms, and this morning, the rest of the divers took a final trip all the way to Runaway Bay, a short trip east of Discovery Bay. All of our experiments have to be done by four o’clock this afternoon, and following cleanup myself and a few others are planning to take one last snorkel out to the reef crest for some photos and (hopefully) some lovely shells. Much of the rest of the evening will be spent analyzing the data we have collected over the past week and packing for our flight. The past sixteen days have flown by, and I know I am not the only surprised that it’s already time to leave!
Susan and Peter hard at work scraping algae for their research project.
Tracey sorts through samples while Amber reviews the final dive logs.
Up Loose Ends
second to last day here at Discovery Bay is by no means a relaxing
day off as everyone in scrambling to get their trials and final
presentations completed as well as the five best pictures we must
submit all before breakfast the next day. I firmly believe everyone
on this trip will be sad to leave Jamaica, however we have all missed
some of the commodities which we take for granted found back home. I
know the first thing on my to do list when I arrive back in New York
(besides working on my research paper) is to get some pizza and take
a nice and long, hot shower! Preparing to embark on my journey back
home has inspired me to reflect on all of the spectacular adventures
and journeys I have shared with all my newly acquired friends.
Looking back I can only hope that I will have the privilege of
experiencing another vacation and/or research trip as rewarding as
this in the future.
Me observing Rock-boring Urchins for one of our experiments.
Mike putting together his final presentation.
Nick cleaning out his wet lab before 4pm.
Breakin’ it Down and Packin’ it Up
Today was the last day to run our experiments. Everyone has been running around gathering final data and breaking down their experiment setups. My groups experiment was set up in the field testing habitats in the back reef. We had originally set our experiment earlier in the week using a boat and Mr. Scarlett’s Scuba Diving Skills. Today the boats were being occupied by professors for their own projects. Luckily my group had just gotten scuba certified. We swam out with all our gear to break down all our equipment. Even though we brought floats, we had to carry over 100lbs more than a quarter of a mile back to shore. Me and my Partner were half choking through our snorkels barley afloat swimming for our lives. Once we were on shore we were glad that it was over. The rest of the day was spent looking at species which had inhabited our gear that we had never seen before. The tiny Grass Squid (Pickfordiateunthis pulchella) was spotted inking at us while we uprooted its home. There were also angry crabs and even a mysterious fish that our professors couldn’t identify.
Aaron demolishing their Reef Condos!
“Don’t Take my Home!” says the crab Mithrax sculptus
Ten Jamaican Dollars to anyone who can identify this fish!!
Trip to Rio Bueno
This morning we all got up bright ad early to board the dive boats to take us to Rio Bueno. Everyone was very hopeful to catch a glimpse or a turtle while we were out in the water, however no once was lucky enough to see one, or if the did claim to see one, the "If you see it and don't take a picture of it, we don't believe you" policy was in order. After arriving back at the compound, everyone went back to work on their research projects and worked on project updates, which were due later on at night.
Lizard Fish waiting for prey on the Sea Floor
New Best Way to Scuba Dive
this morning the entire class traveled by boat to a dive site at a
place called Rio Bueno, which to me sounded like the undisputed best
place we could dive on this trip. At this site there is a sheer
cliff, lined with even more corals and fish than at Discovery Bay. My
project had kept me too busy to really do much diving, so I was going
to have to make this dive count. I had just put my tank on when
someone asked, “Where are his fins?” and immediately realized
that I had forgotten them. For those who don’t know you really
can’t scuba dive without fins. It was suggested that I just snorkel
right next to the boat or sink to the bottom and just walk around,
but I didn’t have nearly enough weight and by the time everyone
else had gotten into the water I was just too depressed to do
anything. When Dr. Warren handed me his fins to hold while he put his
tank on I was ready to just jump in with them. I mean what could he
have done, he couldn’t chase after me without any fins. [Dr. Warren begs to differ. I'm fast even without fins] I didn’t
because Dr. Warren most likely would have then stolen Dr. Peterson’s
fins, and with no other fins left on the boat Dr. Peterson would have
chased after Dr. Warren with the boat, which would have dragged the
anchor across the site, taking corals and all of the divers using the
anchor line as a guide with him, and I did not want to be indirectly
responsible for that. Trust me the corals have suffered enough and I
say that being dragged underwater is only fun at very slow speeds.
You get to see sea turtles on this dive, I am only slightly
O’Neal, one of the dive officer’s assistants, talked me into
jumping in with only a bathing suit and rash guard to try walking
around on the bottom. I was hesitant because you do need a very large
amount of weight to be able to do that well, but was still willing to
give it a try. After getting in the water I realized that O’Neal
didn’t actually want me to walk around on the bottom, instead he
had tied a rope to the back of his BCD and was planning to drag me
through the site to the same depth where everyone else was going. The
first few minutes in I began to think that this might actually work.
Halfway through the dive I thought that this was actually pretty
nice; I mean O’Neal was practically a guide and he was able to
point out all of the lion fish and other interesting creatures. Three
quarters of the way through I realized that I was not tired at all
and began wondering why dive places don’t offer tourists such a
service. Now keep in mind, we were the last two people to go down,
and no one knew that O’Neal was dragging me around the site.
Apparently this set up looked strange enough for other divers to make
a complete turnaround from the reef in order to look at us. I kept
making the take a picture sign until finally Dr. Peterson took this.
Me being dragged along the reef by O'Neal.
honestly don’t care how I got down there or how I looked,
everything I saw was absolutely amazing. I really owe this guy; I
could have really missed out on something great.
Rio Bueno Wall Dive
The sun was out the wind was calm as we all disembarked on the Explorer and the Scomber to leave Discovery Bay for Rio Bueno. After splitting up into groups of divers and snorkelers we swam away from the boats. While diving with Amber, Amir, Emily, and Amy we followed the coral reef to the drop off where we came across the wall which was a vertical drop down into the deep blue to a depth over 100 feet. We all spent 45 minutes at 55 feet seeing schools of parrotfish, blue chromis, and the occasional lionfish swimming by.
After returning from Rio Bueno most of the students continued doing work on their research projects. My group finished collecting the rest of our data and we are waiting for the samples to incubate and freeze before we can finalize our project. Tonight was our last night of project updates before we have to give our final project presentations on Friday before our final departure from Discover Bay Marine Lab.
Excursion number two
Today was half work and half play. This morning was spent diving, and collecting data. This afternoon was spent having fun. Not to say diving and data collection isn’t fun. Today we became amateur spelunkers. We took a trip to the Green Grotto around 2pm this afternoon; The Green Grotto is a large cave system not far from our home here at Discovery Bay Marine Lab. Not only does it have a long geological history but cultural history as well. According to our tour guide it was the hide out for the last Spanish governor in Jamaica after the English had invaded the Spanish colony. Needless to say it was really cool, the tour took about 45 minutes and was filled with bats, snakes, and lots of limestone. Overall it was a great break from a long week of data collection and snorkeling.
Entrance to the Green Grotto.
We found a subterranean lake!
Kyle found a snake!
Tree Growing through the cave.
Out of Many, One People
After the Green
Grotto, we headed to The Ultimate Jerk across the street for food. We
enjoyed ourselves and unwound, trying to de-stress after the past few
days of research stress.
We had different
options of food choices from Jerk Chicken or Pork, which definitely
stood up to its name, or Stew Chicken or Pork with rice and peas. A
lot of people also got fries as a side.
The whole day was
really a nice experience that we all enjoyed and gave us a chance to
chill out and enjoy the atmosphere. And like the title of this blog,
which is the Jamaican motto, we have all grown to be close with each
other and we won’t soon forget the memories or friendships that
The day started off
with a boat ride to Rio Bueno leaving the dock at exactly 7:30am.
Everyone wanted to go snorkeling or diving out there this morning so
we all got up without even eating breakfast yet. Luckily for those
who didn’t fare too well with the waves and the motion of the boat,
breakfast was more of a treat after we were done with our trip.
from the boat on our way to Rio Bueno.
Afterwards we had a
long day ahead of us where we all worked on our projects since time
is beginning to run out to complete them. Some divers even went out
for a second dive that day (a night dive) led by Mr. Scarlett. Others
had to stay back to finish up projects and present project updates to
the professors. It’s hard work but we’re also trying to enjoy the
last few days that we have left in Jamaica.
crab and snail collections from my group’s collections.