Day 4: Back to the reefs
Today’s post is by Jodi Pinder:
Day 4 started pretty early for the girls. We decided to get up at 6:00am to start our laundry and get ready for the day. After breakfast, we took a long bumpy truck ride to Grotto Beach on the other side of the island. We snorkeled for a long hour and a half from one end of the reef to the other. This reef was by far the biggest and most beautiful reef we have seen so far. Sadly most the coral had died, but the ones still alive, such as the elkhorn coral, were vibrant in color and a gorgeous sight to see. The reef is home to an abundant amount of species of fish from the large curious barracuda, to the small vibrant damselfish. There were also many species of sea grasses, such as Thalassia which occasionally hid calcified green algae which stood out with its bold green coloration. The swim was exhausting, but definitely worth it. Over by where we parked, there was a nice picnic area which included some tables and a hammock. After eating another skewed bread-to-meat-ratio lunch, many curled up and took a nap in the shade. Julie and I went down to the beach to tan for a bit, but due to inconvenient clouds, it turned into more of a workout on the beach. After the quick cat-nap/workout we continued on our journey to the next destination. The truck pulled over on the side of the road as we questioned our destination since there was no ocean in sight. We followed Dr. Kelly through a path in the woods which brought us out to Dump Reef, which got its name from being the local dumping spot a long time ago. Thankfully most of the garbage had been removed or buried over time. This was a shallow reef which made viewing species much easier and more up close and personal. Other organisms seen included a cushion sea star and green sea turtle. I entertained myself at the end of the swim by feeding the fish in the shallow water Cladophoropsis, a grass-ball like alga, which attracted the fish when it was ripped apart. We returned to the research center for a dinner break and plan on going out tonight back to Dump Reef for a night dive. Hopefully we see some interesting organisms not seen during the day.