14 Jan PM – Hello everyone!

First of all, I have to apologize that I wrote my blog late. I should have writen my blog yesterday, but I went to scuba diving training yesterday until 5’o clock, and I just fell asleep after dinner, because I felt very tired.

Yesterday, Alex and I went to a swimming pool to learn scuba diving. So we stay in the water for 5 hours. That was freezing under the water. In the morning, we went to the swimming pool and started the training. Before we started the training, we floated in the swimming pool for 10 minutes. Then we suited up and learned something about the equipment. During the training, there were a lot of interesting things. For example, we need to breath underwater without the mask, clean the mask underwater, move out and move in the weight underwater, and ascent like superman after we finish diving.

Finally, we finish the training before dinner. That’s a wonderful day. And now, I’m so excited about the scuba diving two days later. Hope the wind will be stopped 2 days later.

This is an ocean urchin we found in the lab. It looks like a hedgehog.

This is an ocean organism we found in the lab. It looks like a hedgehog.

14 Jan AM – The Wind Is BACK and better (worse) than ever!

Yesterday mother nature was messing with us and gave us a couple of nice hours to go snorkeling so we had our hopes high that we’d be back in the water today. Bri and I went snorkeling around the bay for a little bit but came quickly back to the dock because we were struggling with our snorkel gear. And like she mentioned, it was so hard to see anything and we didn’t want to hurt any of the coral, or us, by smashing into it.

Meanwhile, Juali was with Professor Warren learning how to snorkel and she loved it! It didn’t even seem like her first time, she was great! So after she became a pro, she took me where she went with Professor Warren, and we saw so many baby fishies! They were so cute but scared of us… especially when I went to try and touch them!

After lunch, the divers were told to be at the dock at 6 AM and the snorkelers at 8AM, and we couldn’t have been more excited to go back into the water. Unfortunately when we woke up, the plans had changed. I’m starting to think that Mother Nature is angry with us and she doesn’t want us in the water!

Yet Another Dry Day (for the divers — the ground is wet from rain).

This morning I had a pretty unique alarm clock! I woke up to Alex banging on our bedroom door and Bri saying “SHHH they’re [Juali and me] are still sleeping!” He came to tell Bri that the dive had been canceled so we all just rolled back over and went back to sleep until breakfast. After breakfast we all started working on identifying fish by their scientific names, which let me tell you, latin is not an easy language to learn! And thankfully we were all sitting inside while doing this because it started down pouring so much that even the power went out!

Latin is NOT easy! Some of our scientific names!

We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will get better soon and well be able to go snorkel/ dive!

Send some warm thoughts to Jamaica for us!


13 Jan PM – More wind

Hello From Windy Jamaica!

Rough Seas At the DBML Docks!

Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t lightened up. Its beautiful, but the winds still persist. Since its been too windy to dive we’ve spent our time study and learning new material. Right now everyone is working on collector’s curves and other data input systems. This is helping us to learn and identify the various fish and the scientific names.

Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to do our PADI open water dives, since the last 2 people finished their pool dives yesterday. The open water dive shouldn’t take too long so hopefully there will be time to collect specimens after being certified. Hopefully the ocean water won’t be as cold as the water we practiced in.

It is thought that the exam is going to be pushed up to this weekend, so when the nicer weather does arrive we will have more time diving and less time worrying and studying for the exam.

The weather is supposed to be nice next week so there should be plenty of time to dive!

Alex H.

13 Jan AM – Hello Again…

Hello everyone!

Bri’s spotted eagle ray.

I am happy to announce that the wind has left the island, for at least a few hours! As I am writing this, what I have done thus far today is snorkel around Discovery Bay and scuba dive a little bit. It was incredible to be in the water finally.
At the beginning of snorkeling, we were just getting the hang of things looking for species of algae and invertebrates to add to our water tables in the wet lab. My buddy, Jess and I spent around 30 minutes snorkeling around in 6-foot-deep water, while both trying to find corals and avoid hitting them.

Unfortunately, the water hadn’t calmed down by then so there was a lot of suspended sediments, making it very difficult to see a distance greater than 3 feet in front of you. Regardless, it was so refreshing to be frolicking around the water.

After Colin, Professor Brad and Amber came back from their diving excursion in the morning, Brad asked us if we wanted to snorkel out to the reef crest, which is about a quarter mile swim round trip (with added time getting lost like Shannon and I did…). BUT I GOT TO SEE A JUVENILE SPOTTED EAGLE RAY, and let me tell you, I was so excited. If you read my blogpost from a few days ago, you’d know that a spotted eagle ray is something I was desperately hoping to see. We continued to snorkel around for a while until Shannon and I popped our heads out to find the rest of the group only to find that we had drifted so far from our three other group members.

After that snorkel, Shannon, Rachel and I had to practice some of our dive skills so that we can take our open water dives soon to finish out Open Water Dive Scuba Certification. We did it right before lunch so we were all pretty hungry, but “oh, it’ll take 8 minutes to finish this up” turned into 40 minutes due to surging water, not enough weight to counteract our buoyancy and low-visibility water. We were all so happy that plates of food were made for us to eat when we got back.
Anyways I’m off to class now but I will leave you with a nice tip for snorkeling with a wetsuit on; don’t forget to put sunscreen on your hands because they will burn.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,

[Title for blog: The Wind! It’s Gone!]

12 Jan PM – A day to remember

A perfect day to have fun, eat and nap on our way back.

The weather has given us a different game play. Regardless of the new changes, we’re all having a great time in Jamaica. Today we had the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the island on a road trip. Some of us were able to see horses, goats, trees and interesting things we’ve never seen before. After climbing a waterfall, we were able to go to Ocho Rios, a very colorful and creative place. The streets of this area of the island are filled with painting, handmade sculptures and a local market that supports the lives of hundreds of people. Their daily work sustains their family and they are willing to bargain to convince the buyers and take some money home. It was a totally new experience for me to bargain and obtain certain items for a much cheaper price. These people will always give you a price, then a discount and if you offer then less they would take it as well. They greet you with the most flattering phrases as a technique to call your attention and convince you to choose their store over any other. We all had a great time going up a waterfall, buying souvenirs for our families, eating at the local restaurant and exploring this beautiful island. On our way back some of us were so tired, we couldn’t resist the urge to a take a nap.

– Juicy Juali

12 Jan AM – Too blessed to be stressed, too anointed to be disappointed

“Too blessed to be stressed, too anointed to be disappointed”

While still digesting our pineapple upside-down cake we got to listen to a talk by Amber about the history of Jamaica last night. Fun fact: Jamaica has one of two flags in the world that doesn’t have red, white, or blue in it! We got to learn more about the history of the reef where we’ll (hopefully) get to dive really soon. Though it’s suffered some setbacks, the creation of the no-take fishing zone in Discovery Bay has really helped the reef to begin recovery and an increase in both fish biomass AND abundance (that’s actually 2 different things).

Looking down at the falls.

Woke up to slightly less windy conditions and cloudy skies. We headed straight after breakfast to Dunn River Falls, an enormous waterfall that many of us managed to scale 3 times, with only minor slipping. As Professor Peterson said, now was the time to go big, and we charged the falls, navigating around massive hand-holding tourist groups and one lady who was crying hysterically. Soaked to the bone and thoroughly happy, we headed out through a mini straw market and survived the twisty passages and aggressive sales pitches guided by Amber. For our Ochos Rios adventure, including grapenut ice cream (yes the cereal, yes delicious), read on…

– Shannon

Jan 11 PM – Winds of No Change…yet.

‘Red skies at night, sailors delight. Red skies in morning sailors warning’ not sure how that translates into wind, but if the wind could die that would be great.

I’m also pretty sure I didn’t see red skies this morning. Regardless, no water for us today- the swimming kind; don’t panic we have water to drink.

The view from the dock.

The view from the dock.

The water is still stunning, and the temperature is still beautiful. It’s just a little too choppy to get into unknown waters. Mind you I’ve seen and been in rougher waters
at Robert Moses, but my mom has given me a healthy appreciation for the ocean. I understand that it will always win and I will always loose and since I’ve never seen what lurks below the surface here, I’ll wait until it gets calmer before ‘Mission Impossible’-ing over some Fire Coral.

But hey! It’s not snowing, the food is delicious and I couldn’t be happier. 2 weeks with minimal wifi! I miss pandora (since I never download music anymore), but otherwise I don’t miss social media at all.

Oh at the cats are pretty friendly; I’ve named one cuteness.

So, until tomorrow when we go explore the falls we will be processing Baited Remote Underwater Videos, or BRUVs, for Global Fin-Print. Word for the wise, audiobooks help with those. Not much to report for today though, just waiting until the wind calms and we can go swimming.

– Rachel

Jan 11 AM – The second day of getting warm.

Hello From Jamaica!

Equipment used by researchers (from Stony Brook and U. West Indies) studying groundwater at the lab.

Equipment used by researchers (from Stony Brook and U. West Indies) studying groundwater at the lab.

The weather is beautiful, but it’s still too windy to get into the water. We’re hoping the wind dies down soon so we can spend as much time as possible collecting reef specimens. We have already started identifying various reef creatures, studying their common and scientific names. So far we have identified 52 organisms ranging from sponges to fish. The lectures so far have been greatly diverse; we’ve studied countless marine invertebrates with Prof. Peterson and a broad spectrum of reef algae with Prof. Warren. Just to clarify not all Algae are plants! They are protists, a common misconception.

Today Prof. Peterson may dive to collect reef samples for us to examine. It is going to be interesting seeing the specimens we have already been studying, but this time in real life.

It has been amazing to hear (TA) Amber and (TA) Colin talk about their research. It’s always interesting to discuss someone’s research with them. This gives one insight into a topic that you would never find anywhere else. It’s also amazing to see how different people view the world around them and what captures their attention.

Most of us have been doing our studying and work outside. It is amazing what one can accomplish sitting on their back stoop writing as the waves roll by! The atmosphere is so relaxing, but yet at the same time very productive.

Alex H.

Jan 10 PM – Wind, wind, go away…

Hello from breezy Jamaica!

After arriving safely from snowy Long Island we got to the marine lab (in the pitch dark so we couldn’t see how beautiful the water really was) and we had a pleasant surprise! There was another group of students studying and sharing the dorms with us, but they were from Canada! They were all pretty shocked that we were from New York but very friendly and welcoming. We sat down and all had our first family dinner and lucky for Dr. Peterson, it was his favorite meal from the marine lab, fried chicken! And he was totally right the chicken was so good!

Waking up at 6:30 AM on winter break really took a toll on all of us. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted even though our second day was pretty quiet. The weather has been very unexpected, with a lot of wind and some rain also! We haven’t been able to go in the water because of the wind, it has made the ocean too choppy, so instead we took some tours around campus and had some lectures to start off our trip! So after our first delicious breakfast and lunch, we had our first lecture, it made me want to jump in to the water and start searching for the creatures we were learning about.

Rough Waters.

Rough Waters.

I think it’s safe to say, we’re all very excited to go in the water and we can’t wait!

Until next time,

10 Jan AM – Hello everyone!

So we have been here in Jamaica for about 24 hours now and let us tell you, it has been a weird mix between rainy, windy and sunny, we’re just as confused as you are, but hey, it’s been keeping us on our toes for the past few hours. Because of the wonderful wind, we haven’t been able to go snorkeling or diving yet due to the intense surf however, it has been keeping us nice and cool under the hot Jamaican sun. Luckily, we have our wonderful classmates to hang out with during the storms.

Featured: the 2017 class fam.

Featured: the 2017 class fam.

Earlier today, our first class period was taught by Professor Peterson and we learned a little bit about some of the creatures we’ll be seeing and others to be aware of. We mainly focused on the organisms that bite, prick and/or sting like eels, urchins and jellies. Some organisms that I really want to see are Spotted Eagle Rays, Fire Coral, and ideally a shark even though they’re not common to Northern Jamaican waters. I’m sure that will make my mom very happy to hear! What I’m looking forward to most in Jamaica is first, becoming a certified scuba diver and then second, being able to apply my knowledge of marine science and ecology within the field, below the surface.

Our second lecture was spent looking at different types of marine plants, but don’t be fooled, algae is NOT a plant, it’s actually a protist. This was heavily stressed by Professor Warren, but luckily, algae is a less daunting topic than Professor Warren’s physical oceanography class.

After a today’s dry day, we’re all very excited to get into the water, especially after learning the basics of the marine creatures we will encounter! We’re still getting settled here in Jamaica, but once the wind dies down a little bit, our adventures in and out of the water will definitely take off.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,