As the first student to write a post, I would like to welcome you to our blog! As of today (Tuesday) we have been in the USVI for two full days. We spent both yesterday and today snorkeling; it was fabulous! Yesterday we snorkeled off a pier in Frederiksted. It was not a reef, but we saw a ton of wildlife. Some of the highlights included sea turtles, octopi, squids, Christmas tree worms, and so many other fishes. A lot of us spent the plane rides to St. Croix studying our fish and invertebrate flashcards so it was awesome to see the organisms we had learned about in class in person. Pro top: if you are ever in an area with pier pillars or other structures, go snorkeling. They make fabulous artificial reefs.
The view from our hike down to the reef in Isaac’s Bay, St. Croix.
Today we did our first reef survey. We got to drive across the entire island over to the marine protected area (MPA) where we planned to snorkel in Isaac’s Bay. On the way we caught a glimpse of the SSV Corwith Cramer down at the dock. Don’t worry Cramer, we’ll be there soon!
Once we got to the MPA, it was a one mile hike down to the reef and we lugged two lunch coolers, three water jugs, reef survey equipment, and all of our gear down. We had two guests come help us with our survey! Their names were Matt and Kelcie, and both worked in reef conservation and fisheries here in the USVI. At the top of the hike, many of us feared we would not be able to snorkel. All we could see was white caps and big waves. However, once we got down to the cove where we planned to snorkel, the conditions were a little better, so we all felt pretty comfortable going in. We didn’t end up completing the eight transects we planned on doing today because of the weather conditions. We did one as a group and while it was a very different snorkeling experience, I think I can speak for the group and say we all had a blast. Some organism highlights include a flamingo tongue, a HUGE barracuda (the students who witnessed it said it was two feet long), a nudibranch, fire coral, and a living elkhorn coral. This was awesome to see because almost all of the elkhorn coral in the Caribbean has been killed by disease. Only about 3% of it is still alive. And we saw some!
We had the opportunity to meet most of the crew that will be on the boat with us last night. I didn’t know that it was possible, but I am even more excited to get on this vessel and go off the grid. I already know it will be a fantastic experience.
- HuxleyAnn Huefner, Scripps College
P.S. To my family: I miss you all! I am learning so much from our fabulous staff and faculty members here with me. Also, I’ve been practicing navy showers (basically showers where you get wet, turn off the water to soap up, and then turn on the water to rinse off). The water bill will be happy when I get home 🙂 . Love you!
Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | email@example.com