The past two days our class has practiced snorkeling in the Luther pool, learned about some of the history of San Salvador as well as learning about some of the organisms we will see during our trip.
Yesterday, we learned that before Columbus landed on San Salvador, it was called Guanahani by the Lucayan people. San Salvador, meaning, "our savior", was named because it was supposedly the first land Columbus saw on his expedition of the New World in 1492. San Salvador has also been called Watling Island after a buccaneer named George Watling. When Columbus first landed on San Salvador, it would have had extensive hardwood forests. The large trees provided a good source of lumber, and today San Salvador no longer looks like a tropical rainforest because the hardwood forests were logged. Now short and scrubby trees cover the Island were hardwood forests once stood.
The year round population of San Salvador is roughly 1,000 people, and there is only one desalinization plant on the island to convert salt water into drinking water. This makes getting fresh water to remote or sparsly populated areas of the Island difficult, which is one reason why San Salvador has not been developed more. The research center we will be staying at collects rain water to use as drinking water.
Today we practiced snorkeling again and talked about some of the habitats on San Salvador, such as coral reefs, lagoons, tide pools, tidal creeks and mangroves. In the afternoon my classmates and I each gave a short presentation on an organism we will likely see. The common names of some of the organisms presented on included, Turtle Grass, Yellow Tube Sponge, Purple Sea Fan, Mustard Hill Coral, White Urchin and Southern Sting Ray. The past two days have made our class eager to reach the Bahamas and start observing the things we've talked about and much more.
Tomorrow we will leave Luther, and spend the night in Miami. Thursday we will be up bright and early to catch our flight to the Bahamas!