Day 5


For breakfast today, Doc cooked us the best scrambled eggs anyone had ever had. It was like he had fused Caribbean fun in to create the epitome of breakfast cuisine. After the magnificent meal, we left for the last dives of the year. We used both dives to work on our final project. On the first dive, everything went to plan. We started off the coast of West Dog island and set up the experiment in about 40 feet of water. Unfortunately there wasn’t a huge difference in the rugosity (essentially variation and diversity of shapes and sizes) of the coral in the two areas we were testing. Although we executed the experiment well, we found similar numbers and species of fish in the two areas. The numbers did suggest that our hypothesis, that an area with higher habitat rugosity would have higher numbers of species and fish, was correct but we wanted more decisive results to report for our final project. For the second dive, we went to a shallow reef located near Little Dix bay. We found an excellent location for our test. There was an area teeming with coral and rocks next to an expansive sand flat at the same depth. We set up and executed our experiment once again, and this time we recorded data decisive enough to use for the presentation. After doing the test, we had about 2000 psi of gas left so we swam over to the coral nursery to help clean it. The coral nursery is an initiative run by Dive BVI, the company which is hosting Jesuit marine bio. They grow elkhorn coral so that we can later transplant it into and grow a coral reef. Last year’s marine bio group got to take part in transplanting the coral and it is highly likely that we will be able to do it next year. In the nursery coral grows on “trees”. They are simple PVC tree like structure with small sections of coral hanging off the branches by thick strands of fishing line. Our job was to clean the coral and trees. We wiped algae and sediment from the branches with brillo pads and gently removed alge from the 6″ sections of coral. There were 50 sections of coral per tree and my dive team helped to clean two trees. There are ten total so we certainly have our work cut out for us next year. After cleaning the trees we headed back to the boats. We travelled to another bay and rafted up with the Sea Dragon and Sea Fox. After a quick lunch on the boat we snorkeled to shore and walked to a nearby salt pond. Although it did not look like much due to the extreme drought the BVI is going through at the moment, I learned that salt ponds are a very important ecosystem. Salt ponds are ponds located near the sea that catch silt from runoff before it can dump into the sea. They naturally acquire salt and we could see the crust of salt on the dried mud on the perimeter of the pond. The ponds are important because they form a barrier between any source of pollution, natural like silt from heavy rainfall or manmade like byproducts from construction sites uphill, and filter the water before it can reach the ocean. After touring the salt pond we were given the opportunity to try termites from a large nest in a low tree. I decided to pass but the couple people who tried them reported that they tasted like pepper. After the salt pond we raced back to the boats. Unfortunately my boat lost and had to be second in line for pizza that night, although Gordon and I got to go first because we pulled the anchor before we departed. When we got back to the marina everyone helped exchange the air tanks in the boat before we headed back to Guavaberry. We then spend the rest of the afternoon preparing for our final projects. The presentation was my group (Jack, Henry, Will, Mat, and I) in front of Doc and the dive staff. We presented some background for our project, the major steps of the scientific method, some concluding information before we were questioned over the project and what we learned on the trip. I felt that our group did very well and I was relieved to have it finished so that we could enjoy the rest of the evening. Some of us played frisbee outside of the office where the other groups were giving their presentations until someone threw it onto the roof. After a little while we found a latter and someone bravely fetched it off the roof. We had pizza for dinner on the beach and played more frisbee. After it got dark, Brice threw it deep into the ocean. It took us a while to locate it, searching from a large rock with a flashlight. Eventually we found it about 40 yards off shore and Brice had to swim out and find it. After that we watched the correctional dance competition for those who had forgot something that day and am excellent recreation of a sea turtle swimming on shore, digging a hole, laying eggs, and finally swimming back to sea by the other Matt for a number of things. Most significantly loosing a sea turtle by not following instructions, being late the boat, and loosing his teams and Dive BVI’s experiment data slate during the dive. He took it very well and we were all impressed with the accuracy of his turtle recreation. After eating some great cupcakes baked by one of the dive instructors and saying goodbye to another who would be leaving for Britain the next day, we headed back to ‘the internet room’ to write our blog entries and look at the day’s GoPro footage.