TREC is bursting with activity these days with the addition of a horde of Transylvanians. We shared a spaghetti and meatball feast last night in preparation for today’s adventure to Rocky Point.
This morning we waved goodbye to our beloved Goliath and headed to the dock next door in front of Xanadu Resort, where we were picked up in a speedboat. We were escorted by Gavino and his five million horsepower to the north end of the island. As the reef arched back towards the coastline, we escaped the deadly shallows through a treacherous channel. The rest of the trip was like being on a motorized surfboard (fun for some, less so for others). Within sight of Mexico we turned back into the coastal lagoons of Belize and waded ashore.
Leaving our snorkels on the boat, we hiked along the Pleistocene coastline to examine the plethora of fossilized corals. Most of the rocky coast is actually composed of corals, now over 125,000 years old. Most of the species we found are still present on the reefs today. Grayson and Jack tag teamed a coconut from its tree, and Forrest and Will embraced their inner Neanderthals as they smashed it on the corals. Others resisted the urge to undo millions of years of evolution, going in search of pristine coral samples among their Pleistocene ancestors.
The coastline along rocky point was also home to countless snails, a few crabs, and pools of baby Sergeant Majors (a common striped reef fish). Several members of the team collected samples of fossilized corals, sand and shells before wading back out to the boat. Veins bulged on Forrest’s rippling lats as he hauled the anchor aboard, hand over hand.
Enjoying bagged H20 with our chicken sandwiches (courtesy of Maggie back at TREC) we floated down the lagoon in lazy preparation for a midday snorkel. Meanwhile, Gavino went spearfishing and bagged a pair of red snapper.
The snorkeling conditions were excellent. Crystal clear, shallow Caribbean waters allowed us incredible views of everything from Acropora to Angelfish. We explored for a short while, savoring our last recreational snorkel before tomorrow’s field exam. Lisa found a special Diadema sample which she shared enthusiastically with Gavino’s hand. That Diadema will live with him forever, a momento of the goofy American crew and their professor. With heavy hearts, we turned the prow back towards the crashing surf.
An ominous drizzle foretold the precipitous ride to come. The waves began to build and our faces turned upwards to their rising white crests. Gavinio’s wry grin proved a stark contrast to our exclamations of fear. POUND! went the boat into the first drop, waves hammering against the fiberglass hull. Each successive wave reached ever higher, the boat relentlessly climbing towards the sky and careening down the wave’s back. Butts flew from seats and smiles began to wane as we flirted with a capsize. Our fingernails dug into the gunwale and seats as we futilely attempted to anchor ourselves to the rollicking boat. This was met with middling success. One Katy Bonaro crashed to the floor and scrambled back to her seat unharmed, while Forrest Behne was jettisoned from his purchase, skipping across the floor, a smile plastered across his face. Soaked and salted like the fearsome sailors of the Cornelia Marie, we emerged from amongst the Bering-like swells, some emotionally shaken, but hearts still afloat.
We welcomed the turquoise waters of the peaceful lagoon and headed back to basecamp where we currently await a riveting discussion and a dinner reservation at Dr. Greer’s favorite restaurant in San Pedro.
Ciao for now,
Chloe, Will and Jack