Day 6 Sherer: Some animals just have no backbone 


Today we got to sleep in for a much needed thirty minutes. As per usual, my alarm doesn’t wake Xander up, so I had to. We then got dresses and went to Lime where breakfast was being served. I then ate the usual hardy fruit loop breakfast and left for the turtle orientation. During the presentation, Doctor Gore, a resident biologist, taught us about the life cycles, types, and potential dangers that could threaten sea turtles. Who would have thought that eating the first batch of sea turtles is actually good for them? It was also mind blowing that a turtle born in the Yucatan could travel thousands of miles into the Atlantic and return to the Caribbean and lay eggs. Dr. Gore also told us about how they tag turtles and even how tagging turtles actually decreases the amount of turtles hunted. Apparently fisherman who see tags that say the turtle traveled thousands of miles actually deters them from hunting them. Also apparently turtles are more closely related to crocodiles and birds than lizards and snakes. After the presentation, Casey briefed us for the day. In the cab I was told that team Sea Monkey would go turtle hunting first, and that team Sea Dragon would do the invertebrate study first. I started getting excited about going turtle hunting first, but I then realized that I had volunteered to go on the Sea Dragon earlier and thus wouldn’t receive any of Jeff’s infinite wisdom or have the possibility of Beth bringing us any more cupcakes. Instead, I would be in the company of Gaz, Beca, and Doc. We first drove to the harbor where my old crew went off, and Xander (who also volunteered) and I continued to the beach where Casey was waiting. While waiting for us, Casey caught a couple of sea urchins and a sea slug. She then told us to split into teams and find more invertebrates. With Casey, our group found a cleaner shrimp, more sea urchins, a moon jelly, and lettuce slugs. We learned how sea urchins slowly move their spikes/legs to move and also use their suction-like-cups to move stuff to their mouth (if you are reading this doc, this is what I meant at the presentation). Also if you irritate a sea urchin enough, they send out gametes as a defense mechanism. Also we learned how the cleaner shrimp, just like as their name would lead you to believe, actually clean off other fish and sometimes even divers for food. We then ate lunch and got on the boat with Gaz to go turtle hunting. Apparently on the other boat, Cooper caught and tagged a turtle. Unfortunately none of us aboard the Sea Dragon would have such luck. We first went to the location and we dropped our ropes. I had first scouted for turtles. For a while, none of us could find a turtle until Dr. Gore spotted one. The people being dragged dropped the rope, Gaz stopped the boat, and U.S. Spotters suited up and swam after the turtle. Unfortunately, none of us actually caught the turtle. We then switched places; this time, I got to be dragged by a rope in the water. It felt like what I assume a bird in flight felt like, or to keep up with the marine part of marine biology, like a super fast swordfish. In other words, the waves/boat threw us everywhere and it was really hard to spot any turtles. Nonetheless, it was still awesome to be dragged high speed through the water. We then came up after thirty minutes and Gaz drove us back to the harbor. Gaz saw a turtle near the harbor, and we all got out and tried to get it, but to no avail. At least Brock found a submerged fishing rod tipped with fire coral. We then went back and presented our projects, which I felt went fairly well. We then had an awesome dinner of pizza on the beach, and Jeff filled us in on some more life lessons. Tomorrow I look forward to helping the locals by beach cleaning and by having some beach time in the afternoon. It’s hard to imagine that this trip is nearly over.