2016 Day 8: Dolphins dancing ‘round

Professor’s note: Today’s post is by Josh Peters. We apologize for the brief interruption in the blog. Yesterday was a full, late day (see why below). We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.  Thanks, too, to those who have commented – the students really enjoy the comments. 

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Nikki greets our guests

Cheers,

the management

Delayed by truck D

Wait, there’s only four days left?!

Dolphins dancing ‘round

Today was day two of collecting and thankfully the kitchen staff knew we were in the last leg. Pancakes and bacon, that’s all I gotta say. We all meet after breakfast in the lab to gather our tools for the day. Unfortunately, it started downpouring out of nowhere, which had some of us sprinting back to the dorm to get rain jackets. After gathering our tools for the day we went out to our tuck for the day, truck D. Of course to go with our recent truck troubles, we got the smallest truck, plus it didn’t even want to start. You could say it was just a delay like usual on the island.

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Reef residents scan the intruders and decide we’re OK.

We arrived at Dump Reef to find one of our greatest challenges for the day, cold water (Prof note: the water temperature is around 78 degrees F… it is not usually described as cold, though the recent rainstorm did make it feel a tad colder than usual). We braved the water and spread out over the reef to collect our data for the second day. We were interrupted by a lightning storm that forced us out of the water, when all of a sudden, a burst of energy went through all of us as a dolphin jumped out of the water in the middle of the reef where some of us were working. After the storm had dispersed, we jumped back into the water and with our energy refreshed, we finished our transects. As some of us were getting out of the water, we heard ecstatic hooting and hollering with excitement from the people still in the water. The few of us that still had our gear on swam on over to find the best part of the day… two playful bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) swimming circles around us.

Watery Friends 6

Spiny lobster at night on Dump Reef

After all the excitement of the morning, we all headed back to the lab and did our analysis for the data we collected today. The professors had a special treat for all of us later in the night, a night snorkel. We all suited up and went back to Dump Reef were we all immersed ourselves in the dark world. With the stars brightly glowing overhead and our underwater flashlights beaming in the water, we cruised through the reef. We saw a completely different world, from seeing species like moray eels (Gymnothorax spp.) to an octopus (Octopus sp.) that gladly showed themselves in the dark abyss. Halfway through the reef we all turned off our lights and gazed up at the sky to see the full beauty the sky had to offer us. Shooting stars sprawling about while underwater, bio-luminescence covered the sea floor. We made it back to shore, then head home to get some sleep. Never a dull moment here on the island.

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