Saturday May 13, 2019
At breakfast this morning the kitchen echoed with repetitions of species names and quiz questions alike. “What are the three Phylum of the Kingdom Protista?”, “What’s the scientific name of the Cowfish?”, “What’s the difference between Caulerpa paspaloides and Caulerpa sertularioides?” All of which was asked for the sake of studying for a practical exam which took place at 1:00 p.m. The practical exam included a (largely) live collection of species we had seen out in the field and had become familiar with. The practical exam tested our abilities to be able to identify each species, as well as to place them in the correct Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, and/or assign the correct genus/species.
Once the practical exam was finished we were assigned a few chores to keep the Marine Biology Station spic-n-span which included organizing the lab area, cleaning the kitchen, and cleaning the bathrooms. With the chores completed we had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy until our evening lecture. Some students took a walk to the nearby Baptist church for a game of basketball, some did laundry, and others decompressed with a nap or Netflix episode.
The teaching assistant for this years Marine Biology course, Luke Geiser, taught our evening lecture regarding bioluminescence in marine systems. One of the primary goals for our night snorkel, was in fact, to observe bioluminescent species in action. We finished our lecture with the infamous Angler fish scene from Finding Nemo to demonstrate bioluminescence in prey attraction.
After our lecture, we dressed in t-shirts, leggings, long sleeved shirts, and even socks to prevent mosquito bites and jellyfish stings. The locals who saw us would have definitely said we were runway ready. We further prepared by taking turns dousing ourselves with bug spray. We walked a brief 10 to 15 minutes to Lime Tree Bay where we settled in to enjoy the sunset before snorkeling. As the sun set we walked a few minutes further to our snorkeling site. Equipped with underwater flashlights, goggles, and flippers, we broke into smaller groups and went to scope out the seafloor while there was still some daylight left. Before it got too dark to see, we stumbled upon a few particularly large spiny lobster. Calls from other groups in the bay indicated that our jellyfish sting safeguards were not successful. Our eyes adjusted to the darkness and we began searching for flecks of light underwater (bioluminescence). We had the most success in our search when climbing out of the bay as we brushed against the algae. This resulted in kicking up what Ryan Sensenig jokingly called “fairy dust”, which was fitting because the experience as a whole was magical.
– Lexus Garces ’20 Biology