May 13, 2021 Part 2 by Savannah Rhoades
Today was the first set of dives away from the research station! Yay! The dives at CARMABI were awesome but we were all really excited to get out and see more of the island. The first planned stop was too choppy and there were too many swimmers in the water, which was surprising for an island with such strict COVID rules. I assume someone, maybe the coast guard flying overhead, reported them. The real first dive spot was called Boka Sami, and it was pretty nice. I was in the urchin collection dive team. So it was our job to go along with 4 transects and count urchins. Two buddy partners were at 30 feet and the other two were at 45 feet. We switched depths for the second dive. I did the deeper, 45 foot, dive first and we saw no urchins, and we saw very little at 30 feet. This data was still useful as it gives us an idea that there may be a decrease in urchin populations or maybe urchins like different depths. This all could be used to plan a future research project.
At the second dive site, the water factory, we only did one dive and we continued our urchin count. My buddy team was on the deeper transect line and once again no urchins. The surface was choppy and there was a current that made swimming just a little harder, good thing divers have fins and learn how to handle these situations. We managed to do the dive efficiently and effectively and everyone felt great after. This was definitely the most scenic dive as the reef seemed healthier and teemed with life.
Once we came back to CARMABI we put our dive gear in the dive locker and all had about an hour to shower, study, or chill. Then we went to the restaurant nearby and enjoyed the scenery and enjoyed half-priced specials. I and a friend came back for a moment to do some studying and there was a big commotion outside. One of the local strays, who we all come to lovingly refer to as dingo, was attacking a rooster. I can’t say we all weren’t a little glad to have one less 2:00 AM caw to wake us up. It was interesting to watch and a funny experience that I’ll love to tell my friends about. Honestly, none of us know whether the rooster made it or if it’s just dead in the bush, but we will find out. Then we all went to dinner, which was sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with sausage and not to many people were digging it. So it had most of us returning to the little restaurant for a quick meal. After dinner, we had our nightly meeting and gathered our data into spreadsheets. Then some of us went to walk on the beach, some went to study, and some went to hang out in the upstairs area by the room. I chose to take the opportunity to study by the beach and enjoy the view of the moon and the sound of the waves. Overall, it was another great day in Curacao and I’m glad I was able to make it to the trip.
Photo by Abigail Vivlamore
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.