Today we took a break off of diving, but the day was not spent sitting around. We met Dr. Gore, who runs the reef conservation non profit called ARK that Jesuit partners with and she taught us about the Green and Hawksbill turtles we would see today. We travelled out to Little Dix bay and looked for turtles in the water around the resort. Owen Spencer and I encountered two turtles at the same time with one of the turtles having two yellow remora fish riding its underbelly! We chased them for around 5 minute before the turtles finally sped off into the open ocean where we could not follow. As we were heading back to the boat, we encountered a pack of around eight red squid, and as we inched closer they shot off. This was one of the coolest sights of the day as I had never seen a squid of any size in person before. Upon returning to the boat, we travelled out to Mount Trunk and broke out the tow lines. We were going to travel around the reef behind the boat on two lines with mask, snorkel and fins to look for turtles, covering much more ground than we could swimming. We spotted a total of three hawksbills this way but every time they would swim to the bottom at around twenty feet where we couldn’t reach them. The turtles would shoot off when they felt like we were too close and would leave us in their wake. Eventually we returned to shore and ate fish and chips at a local restaurant called Bath and Turtle which was very good.
After lunch we headed out to Savanna Bay to snorkel around that reef for invertebrates, species without spines. Immediately after entering the water Owen and I encountered two more squid, which we chased around for around ten minutes before being left in the dust. We travelled around the reef and collected a couple sea pearls, single celled organisms with a cell membrane around the size of a golf ball. The sea pearl is actually a source of freshwater inside the membrane, it filters the water to keep the salt out. Returning to the beach, we added our sea pearls to the intervertabrate tank and spent the rest of the time identifying the organisms. We collected a sea cucumber, a couple different types of urchins, a hermit crab, conch, and a couple of snails. It was really cool to see all the different types of organisms that make up a reef ecosystem.
Tomorrow we visit the Jesuit Coral nursery and will help clean the algae off the growing Coral. Also, tomorrow we will get the chance to visit a recently sunken ship wreck and go wreck diving at around 65 feet, something I’m very excited for as diving is one of my most favorite things about this trip.