Today, we grabbed our gear and headed for the reefs off of Cooper Island. As we went over to the dive site, we prepared the tools needed for our experiment: different noise making devices, dive slates, and cameras. Luckily, having cameras wasn’t a problem thanks to the awesome Sealife cameras that Marine 2 received as a gift. Before diving, we determined that we needed to observe generally if fish would even react to the different noises that we made and how human presence affected fish behavior. Because of this, our initial observations that came from the first five were all qualitative and didn’t have any numbers associated with how the fish reacted. Through this initial test of how noise affected fish actions, we found that human presence was going to alter the data too much, especially with the motion needed to produce noise from our rattle and hammer. After surfacing, Casey came up with a great idea that entailed two people holding a towel in front of the reef that we were observing to obstruct the fish’s view of the motion. She also had the great idea to use a red towel so that the color fades earlier and the fish are more used to it. When we went on our second dive of the day, we carried out the experiment with better results than before and less errors on our side. We also were able to record the whole experiment with general ease, although I figured out that I’m terrible at anchoring myself into the sand, resulting in helpless swaying and flailing around in the water. While swimming between test sites, I saw lots of interesting fish such as tarpon and barracuda that got really close because they were curious about the noise we were making along with our presence in the reef. I also got a chance to see some cleaner shrimps cleaning the mouth of a grouper and a Sargent major protecting her young in a reef alcove, both of which I’ve never had the privilege of seeing before. While we were transitioning, we also saw a barracuda, which Name proceeded to provoke with noise until it began to swim towards us and got within a few feet , but turned away after we ushered him to stop banging on his metal pan. After surfacing, we tied the two dive boats together and had a nice lunch that concluded in a diving and bellyflop competition between some of the divers.
As our final activity before heading back to the harbor we went to salt island, a aptly named island due to its former status as salt mining area when slavery was present within the island. We also learned that the last inhabitant of the island died in 2007 and only gets visited now by the occasional tourist, or a group of twenty high-school students dawdling through the salt lake. Through a little persuasion, some of hiked up to the top of a ridge with Mr. Von, which offered an amazing view of multiple other islands and the vast ocean surrounding us. As we returned to where the boats were docked, we saw some of the abandoned houses that were used to transport and package salt between the shore and the ship, as well as house workers.
Tomorrow, I’m really looking forward to discussing more about our research project and watching some more of the video that we gathered from today. I also want to get as much rest as possible in order to be fresh and ready for tomorrow’s plans.