Day 3: coral and mangroves
Today’s post is by Alexis Hudson:
Day three on this gorgeous island was a great one! Today was the first day we were in the field all day, not even coming back to campus for lunch. We got a new truck today since yesterday our power steering died. Today’s truck was named Cold because Dr. Kelly and Dr. Carlile had AC, and it was an automatic. This upgraded truck also came equipped with a Rolling Stones CD for our listening pleasure. On our way to the first site we stopped at where Columbus first supposedly landed. We got a nice group photo! We also stopped at the remains of an old stone house that used to be part of a plantation. The rest of the way to the first site was very bumpy in the back of the truck, yet somehow I managed to fall asleep.
Once at the site, French Bay, we trekked down to the water to find that the surf was pretty intense. We all struggled to get fins on and headed out to a small reef. Here we saw incredible live corals such as the Brain Coral, Fire Coral (DO NOT TOUCH!) and lots of Corky Sea Fingers. The boys saw a Tiger Grouper and Matt got a nice picture. As for us girls, we got hit with a massive wave in the face that was breaking over the reef crest. We all laughed and spat out all the salt water that was in our mouths. We all wanted to stay on the reef longer but it was time for lunch.
Lunch in the field consisted of sandwiches, fruit, and lots of lemonade in the back of a beat up pick up truck- a real tailgate party. The bread we have is really thick than what we are all used to so the bread to meat ratio was skewed.
Our second site was at Pigeon Creek to look at the Mangroves and all the organisms in there. Mangroves are an extremely important part of the ecosystem and are disappearing quickly. They serve as an incredible nursery for many creatures. This was a really cool experience because we got to ride the tide out through the creek! Just relax, look at pretty fish and algae, and let the current take you out. Right off the bat we saw a 3-foot long Barracuda, and a few lionfish, which can sting and are an invasive species here in San Sal. The barracuda honestly scared me because I was not expecting to see that so close to the shore. We had to cross a bed of seagrass that was pretty shallow and Matt and Jodi accidently hit some hydroids on the grass and got stung, thankfully just a tiny sting. The hydroids have tiny structures called nematocysts that penetrate the skin; this is the “sting”. Feels kind of like a bee sting. After they felt better, we floated with the current “out to sea” being careful to stop before we hit Africa.
The last leg of our trip was the bumpy ride back to school and once again I fell asleep, along with Lauren, Julie, and Matt. No idea how we did considering our seats consist of a piece of wood in a pickup truck.
Tonight we will be sharing a story that us girls wrote about the Cow on San Sal. Should be interesting.