Today was a big day! Everything we had been working on and planning for finally came together when each team conducted their field research. Also, a large group from Transylvania University arrived at TREC today, so we needed to clean up the common area and consolidate rooms before we left for the day.
The skies were perfectly clear and the water was amazingly blue when we boarded the Goliath around 9:15. We headed out to Coral Gardens, our research site, and anchored close to the buoy we had left the day before. The groups headed into the water with quadrants, meter sticks, measuring tapes, cameras, and other equipment for their research. Project subjects include urchins, damselfish, blue variety of Porites corals, hybrid species Acropora prolifera, and dead assemblages of Acropora cervicornis.
Today was the culminating point of our academics here in Belize. The projects, which are based on observations made throughout our trip, including a multitude of scientific papers, coral identification, and lectures in the preceding two weeks. Our skills in snorkeling were put to the test as teams had to measure the width of coral, upside down, while avoiding the threats of the pesky fire coral. One group quantified the density of sea urchins hiding in the crevices of patch reefs, while another group surveyed rare forms of electric blue Porites porites. Upon return to Lexington, each group will process the information collected here, turning it into both posters that will be displayed during the Spring Term fair and individual research papers.
After concluding our data collection around 2:30, we met another boat and dropped Sequoya, Katie B, and Harry off with a dive instructor for their afternoon SCUBA session. When we got back to TREC, it was completely invaded by Transylvanians. We were so lucky to have had this place to ourselves for a week! The days are dwindling here in our personal paradise, but we are looking forward to what we will discover from today’s work.