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May 3, 2015

Friday we went on an all day trip to a mud flat next to Long Key called Old Dan Bank.  Students laid out 1 m X 1 m quadrats in order to quantify how various species of algae and invertebrates vary across a changing depth gradient. The weather was outstanding, with low winds and sunny skies. We saw a vast array of algae, crabs, sponges, invertebrates, and even several stingrays. We enjoyed our lunch on the boat, then completed several plankton tows on the way back to the lab – capturing a diversity of dinoflagellates, crab and shrimp larvae, diatoms,…

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May 3, 2015

Off to London

Many months of meetings and preparations are nearly complete. The group will leave Goshen on Monday and arrive in London on Tuesday morning. Class begins with a walking tour to get acquainted with our new surroundings. As a GC alum it is great to experience the classroom again. I’m delighted to serve in the role of class assistant for the trip. I look forward to getting to know the students and being in London for the museums, theater and music. Mind the Gap!  

May 1, 2015

Today the weather allowed us to complete two field excursions in both the morning and afternoon.  After a lecture on seagrass ecology, we eagerly loaded up the boats and headed to the seagrass beds for a morning of snorkeling. Much of the morning revolved around becoming comfortable in our new aquatic environment, which included how to swim among the jellyfish. We saw plenty of Cassiopea xamancha, the upside down jellyfish, as we collected samples of seagrass, sponges, and algae. We returned for a quick lunch so we could visit another site in the afternoon, a mudflat we call Triton flat….

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April 30, 2015

Ecuador is rich in biological, economic and cultural diversity. Its rain forest is home to countless species of native flora and fauna. The nation exports petroleum, bananas, cut flowers, shrimp, cacao, coffee, lumber and fish. And more than a dozen distinct indigenous groups still reside in the mountains and jungles, seeking the benefits of economic development while attempting to maintain the traditions and customs that have sustained their communities for thousands of years. The forest that begins in the Andes Mountains and extends eastward toward the Amazon Basin offers a living laboratory for applying the insights and tools of ecological…

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April 29, 2015

The incessant rain and thunder showers cannot quench the energy and excitement among the 18 students who are here in the Florida Keys for the 2015 Marine Biology course.  All the students arrived safely last evening and today we have been spending time in orientation, lab setup, and grocery shopping.  The weather promises to break – we’ll be snorkeling before long! More pictures and updates will be coming.

May 25, 2014

The final blog

Wednesday May 21st, 2014 After many hours of hard work, fun times, and great experiences, our journey together has reached it’s end. Today was the last day of class and it started out with some early morning studying. Our final exam was at 10:30 a.m. and the time for studying beforehand had been minimal. However, after two hours of non-stop writing most people came out feeling pretty good, other than a few hand cramps. We had a chance to wind down after lunch and to let the realization that the 2013-2014 school year was officially over sink in. In the…

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May 21, 2014

Tuesday May 20th, 2014 We woke up at 7:30 a.m. for our breakfast and after it we went to our various projects groups for data analysis. Tonight we shall be presenting our projects and so every group is rushing to complete their data analysis. At 10:00 a.m.  as other days we went for our tea break and came back at 11 a.m. when we met with Ryan Sensenig for some discussions on the expected final exam tomorrow. We also received back our practical exam results from Donna Sensenig. After the discussion we continued with the analysis until 1PM when we…

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May 21, 2014

Monday May 19th, 2014 Today was a day to work on our research projects, discuss readings, and perhaps most notably, to revisit the school in Lekiji (a pastoralist community located on a plot of land nearby to Mpala Ranch). Since our previous visit, ideas concerning ways in which we could help the school had been floating around. We discussed as a group what the best ways are to help communities with access to fewer resources. Through these discussions we decided that we would buy and install guttering on the largest classroom at the school in order to make useable a…

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May 20, 2014

The final weekend

Saturday May 17, 2014 After two full days of traveling to different ranches it was nice to have a more relaxed morning today. However, there was still work to be done. After breakfast we were working hard on studying for the practical exam which was Saturday at 4pm. We would help each other identify trees, mammals, reptiles, birds, grasses, and dung. The practical took about an hour and for the most part everyone knew most of the questions except for a few questions that Ryan through in to surprise us. After supper we had the optional game drive which everyone…

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May 19, 2014

Friday May 16th, 2014 Today was our visit to Segera.  Originally scheduled for Monday of this week, we, as a class, were glad to be able to go and visit at all– roads had been washed out earlier, as the black cotton variety of soil that is between us and Segera holds water very well, and for a very long time.  So long, in fact, that the roads were still a little bit untraversable– our land rover got stuck twice, the second time requiring us to be pulled out by a friendly gentleman in a more all-terrain truck… who got stuck in pulling us out of the…

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