Marine Bio Two Day 2


We started the second day with a delicious meal of eggs, cereal, and muffins cooked for us by Doc, Mrs. Matthews, and Mr. Vaughn. Then we took Glen’s taxi to the boats and set off for cooper island. A short boat ride later and the teams were stepping off the boat. The purpose of our first project divas to subjectively test some of our test methods for our later formal tests. The purpose of Henry’s and my experiment is to study the effects noise pollution has on marine life. To test this, we had to brainstorm ways to create a repeatable and significant amount of noise under water. Originally we planned to use a tank-knocker (a hard plastic sphere which is used to drum on metal dive tanks to attract attention) and a dive rattle (a metal tube filled with bearings) to create noise. However just yesterday when we were going over our experiment with our dive instructor, Casey, I suggested that we might use something like a hammer and a frying pan to hit together, as well asked about a device known as an AquaDuck (an air tool that uses air from the tank to vibrate a diaphragm causing a very loud quacking noise). To my surprise, Casey bought the pan and hammer as well the AquaDuck. Thanks to these tools, we were easily the most talked about group of the two boats. We swam around the reef honking, clanging, and rattling at fish for about half an hour while subjectively observing the reactions. We had great time on that dive, and thanks to my liberal use of the AquaDuck, spent about 750psi quacking. After the first dive, my group and I discussed our observations and brainstormed some ways to increase the accuracy of our test.
The next dive took place a few hundred yards away on a shallower area of coal and sandy bottom. We had decided that it would be best if two group members held up a towel, building a wall between the noisemakers and the fish we were examining. We dive down, found a head of coral that seemed to have a good number of fish, and set up kneeling on the sand. We waited three minutes while Casey and Henry held the towel and filmed the fish simultaneously. (Henry and I used our brand new cameras given to us by Jeff and Casey as a thanks for coming back a second year. As if getting to do it all over again this year wasn’t a reward enough in itself.) After the time has passed I made noise for ten seconds while they filmed the fishes’ reactions. The wait interval and noise were repeated for the next two variables, and then we would move to a new spot. The highlight of the dive was the huge barracuda that really seemed to like the sound of the pan lid and hammer. We first spotted him in the distance swimming aimlessly. I decided to see what effect the noise had on him and began to rattle the lid and hammer, causing him to turn directly towards us and swim at us deliberately. I didn’t stop nearly as soon as I probably should have and Casey turned, frantically signaling for me to stop, when he got only a few yards away. The three of us then began to wave our arms and kick our legs at the fast approaching predator. At the last second, he turned away and calmly swam past. The whole encounter lasted only a few seconds but it was both exciting and terrifying, and certainly memorable. After the dives, the two Dive BVI boats rafted up and we ate a quick lunch of sandwiches and chips. The boats then headed to another island across the channel, Salt Island, named because it was the last stop passing ships could stop to pack on the vital preservative before crossing the Atlantic. The island surrounds a large salt pond, hundreds of yards long but only about ankle deep, bordered by a solid sheet of ice up to several inches thick. The island is uninhabited as the last remaining inhabitant passed away in 2007. However, there are still the ruines of houses built from the 1800’s through the 1980s. It is also the final resting place of many of the bodies of the 123 victims of the RMS Rhone, a ship that sunk in the channel during a storm in 1867, which we had the opportunity to dive through last year. As we walked the island, Henry noticed a walking path up the towering hills looming over the salt pond. We ascended hundreds of feet, and the view at the top was spectacular. The deep blue of the water in the bay contrasted the grey pond and dry island. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of the gorgeous landscape because the name Salt Island did paint the island as especially photogenic and of the dozen or so people that climbed, no one brought a camera. After touring the island, our boat did some push-ups for whoever forgot the dust cap on the air harness, rinsed off in the sea, boarded the boats to head back to Guavaberry. There, we played frisbee and football on the beach until dinner, which was delicious pulled pork sandwiches Casey had been cooking since six in the morning. We then played frisbee and sat on the beach till the sun went down. In all, it was an incredible day. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to come back to the BVI and spend another week here studying with my friends.