May 17, 2021 by Ryan Shelby and Caleb
May 17, 2021 7:30 AM, we loaded into the vehicles for our final dive to collect data for this research trip. It was bittersweet, bitter because the blisters really did not want to do another dive and sweet because now that it’s over, I can finally rest for a few minutes. The reef at Double Reef wasn’t the nicest we have seen this week and I have to wonder if the cruise ships that dock nearby have had anything to do with that. However, several species of fish and coral were observed living their best lives so it can’t be all bad. Urchins were not seen anywhere except for one on a single transect. A golden tail moray was the most interesting part of my dive. It peered out from its hole and I took some videos of it. I also saw some unusually large surgeonfish, which was interesting. A yellowheaded wrasse swam very close to me and it seemed like he was checking me out and I was able to get some great footage of the situation.
2:00 PM, we load into the trucks again, but this time we get to take a trip to town. Everyone was excited to see some part of the island that wasn’t a reef. Not that anyone on this trip dislikes coral reefs, but after eight days they all start to blur together. Several places were closed, and the locals seemed very excited to see some fresh faces around. One shop owner expressed how desperate all the local businesses are since the community is only just coming off of a lockdown. Overall, it was nice to just have a drink, this time at a place called Brown Lady, somewhere other than the normal Tomatoes by the CARMABI. I went to a restaurant and got a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it as well as a drink with blue curaçao. The floating bridge in Willemstad was very interesting and it made a few people a bit queasy at the same time. I liked Willemstad a lot, however I am still trying to find the lionfish store to buy a late Mother’s Day present. I did buy everyone in my family a hat though, which I am hopeful they will like.
The greatest thing about today? No pain looms in the early light of dawn tomorrow…. oh wait, another covid test.
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. During these courses, students learn scientific diving techniques over a 10-14 day period and carry out research and monitoring of coral reefs at various sites. Many of these courses are done in partnership with local environmental organizations, like the Union Island Environmental Alliance and the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.