Today’s activities were turtle tagging, studying invertabrets, and a team challenge on the beach. We started with a lecture over turtle biology and populations all over the world by Dr. Shannon Gore, a Dallas native who used to live just a few miles from Jesuit. We learned how the practices of turtle hunting, regulation, and egg collection positively and negatively affect the health of turtle populations worldwide. For example, the practice of collecting some turtle eggs after they are laid is frowned upon by many petitions. However, the practice ensures turtles nesting a few days later won’t crush or compete for space with those eggs. We then took a taxi to the boat and traveled to Little Dix bay. After snorkeling around for around an hour and failing to find a single turtle, the dive guides decided that we would slowly boat around the bay and search for turtles. Sure enough, after a few minutes relaxing and searching in the boat we found a turtle. Everyone threw on their snorkels and fins and dove in after it. After a few minutes of chasing we had it cornered. I was taking video while helping to corral it and did not expect to have to catch it so when it came straight at me I was surprised to say the least. Luckily, at the last second, Killian grabbed it by the shell and pulled it vertical while it pulled them both to the surface. I managed to get some great video of the capture and we got our turtle! We headed back to the boat and handed him to Dr. Shannon. She took measurements and read the turtles’ tag. We determined that it was the same turtle last week’s group caught! We saw two more turtles and unsuccessfully tried to chase them down before heading back to Yacht Harbor. We took Glen’s taxi across the island to Savannah Bay beach to study invertebrates. Casey and her team had collected invertebrates from the nearby reef. These included sea pearls – the largest single cell organism, nudibraches- sea slugs that perfectly emulate the grasses in which they live, sea urchins- whose mouths stomachs and digestive system are all the same organ, and fire slugs- which shoot toxic spines into the surrounding water then threatened. After hearing about each organism we had an opportunity to hold each of the organisms (with the exception of the fire slug of course) and then snorkeled into the bay in order to observe each of the organisms in their natural habitats. After an hour of snorkeling we piled back into the taxi and headed back to Yacht Harbor to eat lunch at the Bath and Turtle.
The final event of the night was beach games back at Guavaberry’s beach. We competed by cabin in a series of four challenges. My cabin narrowly lost the first, water balloon dodgeball, in a nail biting sudden death after a hard fought game. We won the second, pictionary/charades drawing in the sand, by a huge margin. We came third in the blind swimmer race after tons of confusion and a good deal of dizziness and then unfortunately lost the Late for Work relay due to confusion about our team’s strategy. We didn’t win the Dive BVI and gift shop gift cards like we had hoped, but we had spectacular team spirit and played well. Casey cooked us another delicious meal today, lasagna and breadsticks, and then played frisbee in the surf till the sun went down. Today was another incredible day. I was especially glad that we were able to catch a turtle this year- we didn’t get one last year despite all the jellyfish stings proving that I tried- and in fact both boats were able to catch a turtle (so we beat the week one guys who only caught one between themselves). I am looking forward to everything that is in store for us tomorrow.