I know I haven’t posted in a while, but as my blog title says, I’m livin on island time (in reality I just got really caught up with school work). These next couple of blog post will be a 3 piece installment of what I have been up to abroad so please bare with me.
First off, it was so hard for me to post here because we had a wind storm come in and knock out the internet. It started on March 5th and didn’t come back until March 13th when the power went out and restarted the router or something. BUT, the same day it came back the Power Plant had scheduled and island-wide power outage, so we had a little taste of internet and then it was taken away. So, for about a week I would have to walk to East Bay (a hotel) or Darryl’s (a restaurant and bar) to get internet and do work there, which wasn’t a bad thing because I got out of the center a lot.
The week before mid-terms we didn’t have a lot of class, we were in the field most of the time do our Conch field exercise. We were put into groups of six and went out at various times throughout the day. The locations that we went to varied from inside the MPA to outside the MPA. We had to go into the water and collect live conch, count how many were dead, and the habitat. My favorite site was the deepest one. It was about 15 feet and we collected a bunch of live conch that we free-dove for. I collected that habitat data at all the sites and then helped where I could. After collecting the conch, my team went on the boat and measure the conch while I stayed in the water and made sure that when placed back in the water the conch was flipped aperture (the opening) down to prevent predation. I had a lot of fun doing this.
At the end of the week, we had outreach as usual, but this day was particularly hot! I was on swim lessons and even the pool wasn’t cooling me down. I was going to take a cold saltwater shower after, but the weather suddenly changed and the sky darkened. It began to downpour and when you get one freshwater shower a week, you take rain as an opportunity to wash your hair with fresh water and that is exactly what I and other students did. In all honesty, I felt super refreshed after and my hair was now clean! It was a really fun experience that had us all laughing.
The Sunday after that I got to go Drumlining for sharks. Here, our professor has ongoing shark research and we get the opportunity to help. Drumlining is unmanned aquatic trap used to lure and capture large sharks using baited hooks (we used barracuda as bait). Once a shark is caught, the drumline allows the shark to continue to move so it doesn’t suffocate and die. We were lucky enough to catch a female reef shark that was about 6ft long. Once caught Aaron, my professor, and Camilla, an intern, collected blood and skin samples to analyze later. When they were done with that we got to touch the shark. Shark skin feels like nothing that I’ve ever touched before; if you go one way it feels smooth and if you go against the skin it feels like sand paper. When we were done with Ronda (we named her that), she was released and swam away.
On top of not having wifi, mid-terms were approaching. We had two exams and an essay for our classes. Each exam was two hours with various amounts of questions that included multiple choice, short answer, and essay style. It was a very stressful time for all of us, having to study for all our classes and keeping up with our extracurriculars like outreach and other school work like field IDs (which we are now done with, thank god!). The test themselves were pretty hard, but if you studied a lot and hard they seemed okay. This week we also had our last community outreach on Wednesdays. I helped paint the mural at the local primary school.
After midterms were over, we had our Directed Research selection. There were eight different projects that we could have done and had to rank them from favorite to least favorite. We put our selection in a bucket and they were randomly selected. I was lucky and got my first pick. For the rest of the semester, I will be studying finfish with my professor Kathy and I am super excited for what we have in store!
Welp that is all for now. Here are some pictures leading up to the field trip. Part 2 is on its way.