12 Jan – Good Morning from Jamaica :)

Rainbow, pelican, and ocean after a little rain shower.

I’d like to dedicate this post to talking about my appreciation of the island since the waves haven’t calmed down enough the past few days enough for us to do any diving. Okay so not only is the Bay extremely beautiful and the ocean as majestic as ever, but all of the life that inhabits the water is something I can’t get over. From the tiny spines that move a Tripneustes ventricosus across the sea floor, to the Octopus Briasrus propelling its’ tentacles to move swiftly, they all move in such a motion that is almost like music. Totally nerding out right now but learning about the history and diversity of Discovery Bay and local species oceanside is so fascinating. A lot of us study outside in the sun by the docks, getting a tan and getting smarter at the same time because it’s so relaxing. I never want to leave, ily Jamaica <3333 [caption id="attachment_1121" align="alignnone" width="685"] Before seeing what was in this invasive species’ belly .[/caption]

Wishing the moon came out looking like a moon in photos.

• Dragonfruit Daeyla

12 Jan – Bon Voyage to my Sea Cucumber <3

Yesterday, a few of us went down to the boardwalk off by the mangroves. Lucy and I went by ourselves first, so we ended up clearing out all the spider webs for everyone else later. The boardwalk itself was really nice with signs detailing the various species and organisms found along the trail.

Watch your step!

We had a fun time, even though walking was difficult because of all the rocks shells and coral on the shore – if you look closely in the photo, you can see that Lucy’s sandal is not fully on her foot).

Until next time, Barbara.

We also decided to say goodbye and release our live organisms in the wet tables because some organisms were beginning to not look so happy. Lucy had to part ways with her beloved rock-boring urchin, Barbara. I believe their paths will cross again in the near future.

With love,
Elderberry Erin

11 Jan – Where are the rivers in Ocho Rios?

Me again, still frizzy haired and now a certified diver with one open water dive under her belt. Putting all of my skills to the test despite being nervous was a proud moment. Once I had my gear on and the boat headed out the nerves calmed and the adventure began. I was encouraged to go by my new friends (shout-out to Ashley, Corrie, and Jeff) after saying I was going to pass on this dive, and for that I’m grateful. My dive buddy (Erin) and I are a good match 🙂 stay close together and communicate well (were still working on the hand signaling but we made it), which is important 60 ft down.

Scuba buddy Erin with the photo credit.

The day after dive day we headed into Ocho Rios and climbed Dunn’s River falls. The waterfall has a more challenging side to climb up but I chose the path of least resistance, per knowing my limit and enjoying my bones inside my body. I still managed to bruise my shin, knee, and almost face plant into the biggest spider I’ve ever seen. But it was well worth it.
After climbing the falls we headed into the town to shop for souvenirs and have lunch.

Said scuba buddy featured here, doubles as a water fall buddy.

The straw/flea market was a lot of fun. Bargaining prices, talking to locals, and eating jerk chicken with festivals (fried pieces of bread heaven) were all topped off with Grapenut cereal ice cream and a walk back to the bus.

Yummy !

We had formed a group of about 6 from our trip and explored together. I love experiencing different cultures via good food, conversation, and exploring. Shopping at the grocery store was a great way to see the daily life and food options of Jamaicans, some of which are coming back to the States with me. The rest of the day was spent studying. Mother Nature has other plans for the reef and water. Choppy surf and murky water has limited our dive/snorkeling ability but hopefully she’ll change her agenda soon. In the mean time we spent some time talking to O’Neill (a dive instructor here) about his life in Discovery Bay, his favorite travel spots, and how he ended up at DBML 6 years ago. The rain in Jamaica is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Short bursts of the heaviest loudest rain that stops in a few minutes. O’Neill and Camilo call it liquid sunshine. I don’t disagree. I’ll take it over snow on January any day!! I’m already sad to be leaving in a week. Here’s to the next five days!

– Lucy

11 Jan – Identifying Organisms

For the past few days we have been working on presentations containing the identified organisms that we have found and brought back to the labs or have taken pictures of. Some of the organism were hard to identify in the beginning like some of the algae, but now we understand what each of the common species look like and their scientific names. Students were separated into groups and each of the groups have identified about 100 species individually, and as a class about 140 as a class. The class used sets of ID books and field guides to identify the pictures that were taken on the snorkeling and diving excursions.

These were a few of the books that we used to identify the fish and invertebrates.

When it was possible, we brought specimens back to the lab and kept them in the flowing sea water lab tables to identify them in person. It is amazing that we were able to collect and identify more than 100 species in just a few days. This just goes to show how amazing and diverse coral reef habitats are.

These were the sea tables that we placed the organisms into while we identified them.


11 Jan – dun dunn dunnnnn…..

I am writing this blog as a survivor of Dunn’s river falls in Ocho Rios (eight rivers for those non-spanish speaking). Our professors planned it out perfect enough for us to get there before the cruise ship did, because the passengers go up the falls literally holding hands which would drive me crazy and make me want to push them off the cliffs if I was behind them trying to get by. Anyways the waterfall has more than one route to go up and the right side was generally more difficult so that’s the way most of us went because we love a good challenge. The first time up was mostly just trying to not stub a toe or shin on rocks that you couldn’t see or slip on a rock covered in algae.

Me ruining every photo I take because I hit my knee on a rock.

The second time a few of us decided to make it a race to the top, but we made a pit stop at the ocean and were enjoying that so much we started doing backflips. Well, I did, Ashley did more of a jump into the air.

Jalepeno and Jambalaya assisting my flips.

Everyone got a turn before we realized we had to start racing back up to the top of the falls to meet back up with the professors, so it began. I’m not sure what the ending time was but we all made it in one piece. Next stop was Ocho Rios main street where a ton of restaurants and gift shops were. It was extremely annoying to have to store tenders follow me around the store and put everything I previously picked up into a basket for me to buy, but they did have a lot of nice stuff. It was a “slow day” so they were willing to bargain on most of the items which was nice.

Dragonfruit daeyla

10 Jan – I forgot to give a title for my blog post.

Hi hi! This is Mango! Yesterday, January 9, we went to Ocho Rios! It was a really fun experience and a lot more different than I expected. It took us around 45 minutes to get there by bus. Upon arrival, it looked like a water park themed place with a lot to do: climbing the falls, an aerial obstacle course, walking around and watching people climb up the falls (there are entrances and exits along the fall where there are seats to watch people climb or for climbers who want to take a break).

I will say, I did not expect to actually climb up a waterfall. I thought we’d be hiking near/next to the waterfall and occasionally have to go in it, but never in a million years would I have expected to push and actually go through the waterfall. Granted, it wasn’t too difficult throughout the whole time (there were parts with a pool for you to relax and wait in), but there were some parts that were difficult (especially if there weren’t legitimate foot holders for you to climb up). Even though I fell down a couple of times, I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve had my time here. It was super fun, and it was a nice change that I was subconsciously ingesting freshwater instead of saltwater (it didn’t make my stomach feel super weird afterwards).

After scaling the waterfall, we went into the town of Ocho Rios and had lunch there. I had the curry goat at Cedella Marley Booker’s Smilin’ Island with Arugula Ariadne, Juice John, Nigiri Nancy, Raspberry Ryan, Salad Sandra, and Sandwich Sam. I really enjoyed the food; it was super flavourful and we all had a great time!

This is the curry goat that I ordered! Would definitely get it again.

After lunch, we walked back from the restaurant and saw a lot of shops on the main road. We went to the supermarket and got some Jamaican goods (I got the Pickapeppa sauce collection, Ariadne got Ting which is described as a grapefruit flavoured Sprite, and John got these sponge cakes filled with an orange flavoured cream). On the next block was the crafts market where I practiced my haggling skills to acquire souvenirs for my friends and family; I got key chains, magnets, clothes and accessories for them. Hopefully they’ll like it!


10 Jan – My first open water dive

After completing my diving certification earlier this week, I was able to take part in my first open water dive that was not part of my certification training. Ten of us went out on two boats towards the dive site, and after struggling to maintain our balance on the boats as we got our gear on, we were in the water. While the certification dives were also fun in their own right, it was great being able to finally go on a dive where I was able to not worry about reviewing and going over dive skills. It was also really nice to be able to bring my camera in the water and take photos of the organisms I saw throughout the dive. Highlights from this dive included several large barrel sponges, some very large sea fans, and an invasive lionfish that I was able to point out to Professor Warren so that he could spear it. Another thing of note that I saw on this dive was a large green polychaete worm that I had hoped for identification purposes was a species I had not yet seen, but after having read through the identification books it appeared to just be a variant of the already seen this trip Bearded Fireworm. It was overall a great experience and I am really looking forward to the upcoming dives in the course.

The lionfish I spotted on the dive.


10 Jan – Ocho Rios is fun to say

Yesterday we took a trip to Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios. Although being able to snorkel and SCUBA dive everyday has been nothing short of incredible, having a day filled with adventure outside the water (kind of) was something we all needed. We spent the morning racing up the river with heavy hitting water and slippery rocks trying to wash us away, but despite that, we all successfully made it to the top. We collectively decided to start again at the bottom and race to the top, but in true marine science student fashion, we all darted to the ocean, where we took turns getting thrown into the air by Jason and Jeff- with some doing backflips before splashing into the water (definitely not me). Once we realized we only had 10 minutes to meet our professors, we all darted up the waterfall, only tripping a few times- which is a success for someone as clumsy as me.

I forgot to include a caption with my photo — this makes my wonderful professors very sad.

After conquering the falls, we all loaded back into the bus and headed into the main strip of Ocho Rios, where we got some free time to wander the town, collect souvenirs, eat great food, and immerse ourselves in the Jamaican culture. The streets were filled with music and merchants trying to persuade you to buy their products, where I learned I am a terrible bargainer.

This past week has been life changing. From getting open water dive certified, spending every possible second I can in the water searching for a wide variety of species (my favorite thus far being the Octopus briareus- or Caribbean reef octopus), and learning all about the reef in lecture-I’m excited to see what this next week will bring and what adventures awaits for me.

What’s really bizarre about Ashley (in addition to her not providing figure captions for her blog), is that she’s started wearing her mask and snorkel on land as well as in the water.

Until next time,
Avocado Ashley

09 Jan – Inlet [a one act play by Sam]

SCENE I. Montego Bay. A tank in a wet lab.
BEIGE BIVALVE at his post. Enter to him CROWN CONE (Conus regius)
Who’s there?
Nay, answer me: stand and unfold yourself.
I mustn’t. A clam’s shell is its only protection from predat’rs.
Beige Bivalve?
Thee wilt treadeth carefully at this hour.
I shall not treadeth at all. I has’t nay legs, thee seeth.
Thee needeth not forks to walketh, a foot shall doth fine!
CROWN CONE advances towards BEIGE BIVALVE at a rateth of sev’ral centimeters per minute
Thee villain! What treach’ry is this? What art thee doing with thy radula?
(Stabbing him)
What, you West Indian Sea Egg?
Dies, unhinges to bewray barren shell.

With the Beige Bivalve gone, mine own progeny and I shalt ruleth the wet lab! A new era em’rges!

“The moment the Crown became the King”

Written by Samuel

09 Jan – Diving and Night Snorkels!

Before coming to Jamaica, I made sure to get scuba certified so that I could participate in all of the dives. I had already heard about the diving experiences of my friends who took this course the previous year, but I was still not prepared for just how incredible diving would be. On our second dive, we went to the M-1 reef site outside of the reef crest and dove down around 50 feet. I do not have a lot of diving experience, so I was nervous about going down so deep. However, when I saw the array of different organisms on the sea floor, I was so amazed that I completely forgot about how worried I was. The corals, sponges, and fish that we saw while diving were very different from the ones that we could see while snorkeling. One sponge was neon green! Going diving in Jamaica was so different compared to what I had done for my diving certification back in the United States. It was such an incredible experience, and I had so much fun drifting peacefully above the reef and admiring the vividly-colored fish that swam by.

One of my favorite moments while diving was seeing this juvenile spotted drum about halfway through our dive.

It was such a bizarre-looking fish that I had to just stop and appreciate it for a good few minutes. There was no way that I could have seen that fish while snorkeling up at the surface, and I am so glad that those weeks of frantically studying for my scuba certification are paying off!

Another tip that my friends gave me was to go night snorkeling as much as possible. Different animals come out on the reef during night than the ones that we usually see during the day. Night snorkeling is also quite different because you cannot see anything other than the area where your flashlight is facing. Many sharp sea urchins come out at night, and it is easy to kick one accidentally. Despite all the dangers, it was definitely worth it to go out snorkeling at night.

I had been looking forward to seeing rays while in Jamaica. My hopes were fulfilled when we saw this yellow stingray (and two others!) on our second night snorkel.

We are only a few days into our trip, and I have already seen so many interesting corals and reef fish. I can’t wait for what we are going to find next!

Nancy (Nigiri)