Exams, Sharks, & Turtles

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Great Day to be a General

Bellies full of delicious island cuisine from Dr. Greer’s favorite restaurant, we fell asleep early and prepared for perhaps the biggest day of our trip.  The grueling hours of work, late nights at the desk, and monotonous statistical analysis – all of it culminated to this point: the field practical exam.   Each student was tasked to identify coral organisms and processes with Dr. Greer and to identify fish organisms and processes with (soon to be) Dr. Doss.  As expected, we crushed it… hopefully

The pupil & the master
The pupil & the master
Which came first, the sea or the egg?
Which came first, the sea or the egg?

With the test out of the way and spirits high, the crew departed to experience some of the best snorkeling sites yet.  First stop was the Hol Chan Marine Protected Area.  If this site were the only place we visited, we would have never known coral reefs were on a slippery slope of decline.  The fish were abundant, and the corals were exuberant.

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The Gregarious Grouper

Some of us took a leap of faith and swam through a cave full of fish.

Harry emerging from the cave
Harry emerging from the cave
Will in the Cave
Will in the Cave

We also had the opportunity to swim with these little guys!

Dr. Greer saying hello
Dr. Greer saying hello

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One of the ocean’s most majestic creatures, the sea turtle is both wise and playful.  We thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with them.

For snack time today, we broke our weeklong bean dip binge and upgraded to some fresh and local ceviche prepared on the boat. It was fantastic.

Fresh Ceviche
Fresh Ceviche

Upon arrival at our next and last stop, Shark Ray Alley, things escalated quickly.  Before we knew it, deckhand “Siete” was chumming the waters and summoning the local shark community.

Nurse Sharks Feasting
Nurse Sharks Feasting

Initial hesitation subsided as our bravest suited up and slid into the shark-infested waters.  Others were soon to follow.  Turns out the Nurse Sharks are docile, and they even even let some of us hitch a ride!

Grayson riding the bull
Grayson riding the bull

 

Harry gave it a try too
Harry gave it a try too

Overall, at the end of the day, in the grand scheme of things, when push comes to shove, and you just break it down to the basics…

Great vibes all around.  We will look back on this trip with the utmost gratitude for years to come.

…..

 

We have a whole list of people to thank for this tremendous experience.  Here, we’d just like to give some special shout outs to the people who made it all happen.

Our deckhands Siete and Abner

 

Special shoutout to our deckhands Siete & Abner
 Siete, Sequoya,  & Abner

Maggie, our humble and learned chef, who taught the boys how to cook.

Our beloved chef Maggie
Our beloved chef Maggie 

Dr. Greer &  Dr. Doss: the professors and mentors who lead us on the journey, helping and teaching us every step of the way.

The DoctorsThe Doctors

Dr. Ken & Maurine: the true power couple who took us under their wings.  Always wealth of knowledge, they gave us unconditional hospitality, and we hope to stay in touch in the future.  We cannot express our sincere thanks.

Captain Ken (Captain Maurine not pictured)
Captain Ken (Captain Maurine not pictured)

Also, we would like to give a shoutout to Al Curran, W&L class of ’62, for introducing this spectacular place to Dr. Greer.  Without his insight, we would not have been able to learn in this incredible environment.

Thanks to all those who have been following our blog.  We hope everyone enjoyed our posts and maybe learned something along the way!

Best of love,

Harry, Joe, and The Crew