MAY 9, 2021 - Savannah Rhoades
Today was the travel day. In order to get to Curacao, we had to complete a PCR COVID test within 72 hours of our flight which we needed to fill out a Passenger Locator Card or PLC and we needed a digital immigration card as well as a printed copy of our negative PCR test. In the U.S., PCR tests take between 3-5 days and no one offers the same day or 48 hours for free. I used CVS for my initial test and took it just under 72 hours to give myself plenty of time for the results to come in (and the site said they would). So I go and complete my test and am awaiting my results and they never come. The day before the trip comes around and I still haven’t received the PCR and at this point, I don’t know what to do. Most other students had theirs done by USF, but because I do not live anywhere near Tampa (about 4 hours away actually) I could not.
As Saturday night hit, I kept refreshing my results and they just aren’t showing up. Throughout that day I called multiple times and couldn’t receive any help. All the while I was updating study abroad that there was a very real possibility I would not be in this fight. Around 2:30 AM I woke up from a nightmare about this whole situation and became determined to solve my problem. I went to work and found a rapid 30-minute test at 7:10am and booked it. It was VERY pricey but I was not missing that flight.
We stopped and did the test on the way to the airport, and once I received the PCR result I went and filled out the passenger locator card on my laptop using my hotspot. I finished just in time, booked my three-day antigen test, and emailed myself copies. I called to the hotel nearest to the airport and got permission to come in and print. I printed everything at the hotel and headed to the airport. I had about an hour and 45 minutes and I made it to the gate with about 30 to spare. It was definitely an adventure, but I’m glad I was able to make it to Curacao because I know this trip will be unforgettable!
By Aidalis Santana
Siderastrea siderea, Porites porites, Orbicella faveolata, Montastraea cavernosa, was the only thing running through my mind this morning, for our first in-water quiz. Let me just write that again, in-water quiz! And we thought quizzes on CANVAS were hard, nay-nay, here in Curaçao were able to experience a new form of learning on this trip.
The day started at 7 am when we went down the third floor stairs to the kitchen and got the coffee started and grab a bagel. By 8 am, we are down by the beach setting up gear for our first dive of the day (yay, so exciting!). That first dive of the day was the first in-water quiz of the trip, I got to say it was a little nerve racking walking into the water. But our TA was very encouraging and saying that we had this. Now, after a few minutes of surface swimming, we were ready to descend towards the reef. Crystal clear water gave way to show a whole ecosystem full of movement and color, just breath-taking. Our TA took each one of the students on the group of two buddy-teams and pointed at different species of corals and types of benthos, I got to say that all the studying paid off.
For the second dive we did the photo transects, a technique learned with the Dive Safety Officer at USF that we had practiced in the pool and grotto. After the second dive we ate lunch, which we individually made with all the food in the kitchen (sandwich and chips, yum!). When lunch ended, we started setting up for our last dive, this dive was something completely different. Dr. Bégin gave an overview of what type of data to collect underwater, in this case it was a 30m belt transect with the objective to quantify coral recruits (baby corals, less than 5 cm) and the environment they were most commonly found as well as the placement, angle, and just an overall outlook of the environment around the recruit.
After all the dives it was time to clean the gear and let it dry, for it to be later stored in the CARMABI locker room over-night. Now, it’s time to get clean, relax and study until dinner at 6 pm. The day will end today with an invertebrate ID quiz at 7pm and studying for our fish ID quiz tomorrow. Bye, see you in the water!
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019 and 2021, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.