Friday May 10, 2019
Today was a very long day following an exciting but tiring day at the coral reefs. Everyone slept in and then rushed to finish breakfast and make it to our coral reef ecology lecture. Here we circled around as a group and discussed questions trying to find ways to connect terrestrial systems to marine systems using the information we have learned from readings, lectures and field visits from this class and all the classes we have taken in our college careers. This was a very inspiring time for Ryan Sensenig, to hear us talk about solutions and our thoughts on the future of all life and the role humans will play.
After this we went into our third day of research visits. Since our esteemed professor Jody Saylor left for her daughters’ graduation, we had to make some switches for the research visits. Instead of each group getting a chance to visit their sites two times we each had to rush to fit a days worth of research into a two hour time slot. This meant that my group had to sort 10 buckets worth of Sargassum and find all the small Portunus sayi (Sargassum crabs), Histrio histrio (Sargassum fish) and Latreutus fucorum (Sargassum shrimp). But after finishing the buckets we got to reward ourselves with doing more snorkeling at Triton Flats, going off on our own to explore to our hearts content.
When we all returned to the station we dove into the annual pizza community meal. When you try to feed 20 people pizzas, with only three pizza pans and two ovens, you get some pretty anxious people who just want to eat. But in the end pizzas were made and to top it all off key lime pie was shared among all, as a tasty refreshing treat.
Following supper, we had a guest lecture by Dr. Cynthia Lewis from Keys Marine Lab, right across the street. Even though there have been collaborations with her for the past 10 years, this was the first time that she gave a lecture to Goshen College students and it was on the topic of Coral Disease. She talked about Pillar Corals and the change of 745 colonies in 2014 to only 50 colonies in 2019. Even though this sounds bad, she ended her lecture answering a question on if she has hope with, “We have saved about 80 genotypes from these coral species, and usually to save the genes of a species you need only 50 genotypes. So yes, I have hope, maybe not for restoration when I’m alive but restoration for the future.”
Tonight is a night of cramming as we have over 50 species to study and memorize scientific names for our lab practical tomorrow. It’s also a time of reflection as we have been here for a week and a half and trying to understand what we have learned and what we want to do with that knowledge. But also a time of continuing to learn because in a week we will be back in our own beds spread throughout the world wondering what more could we have learned from our time in the keys.
– Aidan Friesen ’19 Environmental & Marine Science