Day 1: finally in the water!
Today was our first full day on San Salvador. It was also the first time Lauren and I had snorkeled. After breakfast, we got organized for our snorkeling adventure, which included making knots and loops on our clipboards for our waterproof paper. We went to a snorkeling site, Graham’s Harbor, right across from the Gerace Research Centre, where we are staying. Graham’s Harbor has a short shore with fine sand and a rocky bottom near the shore. Dr. Kelly took the more experienced snorkelers for a review before they went out and Dr. Carlile took Lauren and I for our introduction to snorkeling class. This included spitting in our masks, falling over in the water trying to get our fins on, and getting very acquainted with the seagrass, Thalassia testudinum. This is because we had to stay close to shore since we were learning. Amongst the seagrass by the shore, we saw some algae like Udotea cyathiformis, Rhipocephalus sp., and Penicillus sp. We also saw a Southern stingray. Along with the seagrass adventure, I realized I had a problem with my mask and was swallowing a good amount of seawater periodically for the morning.
We took a break from snorkeling and came back across the street, to the research center, to break for lunch. I knew I was in need of a new mask and I was not sure whether myself, or the professors were more worried about finding one. Luckily, through talking to a student from another school group, I was given an extra mask that was left behind by another group. This solved my mask issue. This proves the nature of the people of the island and the visitors of how friendly and respectable these people are.
After lunch, we visited a fossil reef in Cockburn Town. It was interesting to see the fossilized coral, invertebrates, and Stromatolites. This area was created over 120,000 years ago. The area became fossilized when the sea level dropped. Other things we saw were cross sections of brain coral. These sections were separated by waves that break and carry the boulders. We left the fossil reef and drove by a good portion of the island including the hotels, convenience stores, and beaches of San Salvador.
Our second snorkel trip of the day was at North Point. On this snorkel trip, the whole group, including the beginners, were able to swim together and look at the coral reefs. Here, we found things like a common octopus, parrotfish, surgeonfish, a lionfish, and a green turtle.
To end the activities for the night, after dinner, Dr. Davis gave us a talk of how the Bahamian Islands formed. Tomorrow, we will embark on a hike on San Salvador and will reach heights of 80 ft, as well as more snorkeling.