Day 11: Nerding and vacationing – The chronicles of San Sal come to a close…

final exam

The students hard at work during their grueling final exam.

The honor of the last student post goes to Jasmine Crowell:

Today was one for the books (or more specifically, our lab notebooks that just got graded…yay). We started off the day like every other, going to breakfast and feasting on eggs and a muffin. We then dashed back to our rooms for some extra studying time before our impending Final Exam.

Truck Rain

The team, bravely fighting the rain to get to Snapshot Reef.

By consensus vote, the group had chosen Snapshot Reef for our final snorkel on San Salvador. But before I get to that, let me tell you a little story about the San Sal Surprise that, quite literally, beat the unsuspecting research students. It seemed that San Sal didn’t want us to leave the island without a little introduction to the other weather conditions it had to offer. Warm and sunny? Definitely. Some breeze? Possibly. Insistent bug bites? Ugh yes, of course. Rain? Ouch. Round one came at us while we were left defenseless on the bed of the truck, first in sprinkles we thought nothing of, then in rain we hunkered down in, followed by torrential downpour that whipped us as we tried to make ourselves as small as possible, laughing as we cried on the inside. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never look at precipitation the same way again. We headed back to Gerace to attempt to wait it out, determined to get in one last snorkel before we said goodbye to this beautiful island. Eventually, the professors decided there was no time like the present (this is when they dropped the bomb that our notebooks were graded, by the way; their timing is impeccable as always).

flying gurnards (Large)

A pair of flying gurnards bid us goodbye…

We headed back to the truck for round two, some of us armored up with bug spray in one hand and rain coats in the other. Thankfully, the young researchers and their desire to both nerd out and pretend they were vacation won, and we geared up to go for our final adventure. We were rewarded with a large ocean triggerfish, flying gurnards, a huge jolthead porgy, and the other organisms we are now familiar with (and able to identify down to the species, thank you very much). It was a great way to say goodbye to the amazing underwater ecosystems we have spent so much time learning about and working with this past week and a half.

For the final round, we sprinted back to the truck to try to beat the clouds we saw approaching, and were, thankfully, able to arrive back at Gerace with only a few spare drops. After a brief discussion about guesses for dinner (Dr. Zajac said chicken—he was right), we headed back to shower and get ready for dinner. After restoring our energy from our snorkel for the last time, we headed back to our rooms to pack and prepare for our journey home.

Group shot gerace sign

Goodbye, San Sal!

This course has been many things—educational, enlightening, entertaining, funny, “ridonculus” at times, and of course, tiring. But it has been an experience I am grateful for and will carry with me for the rest of my life, and I’d like to thank my professors for the opportunity. Special thanks to our friends and family as well, for reading and commenting on our blog, we really appreciate your support and enjoyed hearing your input throughout the course of our journey. And last but not least, a big thanks for the memories San Salvador, it’s been real.

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