Saturday May 6, 2018
Today was a very exciting and exhausting day for all. To prepare us for what was ahead, we reflected on a quote from Edward. R. Morrow that we carried throughout the day – “Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation” (This quote, has definitely been applicable several times so far). We began our day with an interesting lecture on the importance and ecology of Mangroves systems lining the tropical coastlines around the equator. One article in particular, about the enforced protection of mangroves of Saadani National Park (Tanzania), scratches the surface of the relationship of humans with nature, and how a balance must be found to preserve the beauty of the world without completely destroying societal customs that have been in place for centuries.
Our field visit today was to Old Dan Bank, which was located on the Florida Bay side of the Keys. It was a long boat ride, but it was well worth the wait. We saw a variety of new species while exploring along the sandbar. The sandbar was covered in Thalassia testudinum (seagrass) with several macroalgae, coral, sponges, and other creatures present. The first discovery was a giant orange cushion starfish, (Oreaster reticulatus), that probably weighed 5 pounds. Not long after that a Diadema antillarum (black sea urchin) was spotted next to some coral; we were also able to find another Lytechinus variegatus (purple sea urchin). While performing a search for Ophiuroidea (brittle star), a puffer fish was caught, as well as two Mantis shrimp and a queen conch! (Which we put back). The pros, Ryan and Joel, collected several large ophiuroidea, while a couple of the research groups could only find a couple small Ophiuroidea. We returned home thoroughly sunbaked, tired but happy about such an amazing dive, and practiced the hymns we will sing tomorrow at the local Baptist church, following a long-held Goshen tradition at the station.
– Ally Roehr ’19 Biology