• Subtropical and Marine Biology

Day 1: Snorkeling at 20° Below

The Authors

The Authors

Hi. My name is Kari Imhof, and I'm Jennifer Samuelson. We will be the co-authors of this year's blog for the Bahamas J-Term trip. We are both seniors at Luther College and have been roommates since Sophmore year. While Kari is a biology major with enough bio-classes to fufill the major twice over, Jennifer took the other route with a triple major in English, Nursing, and Biology. Kari decided that because Jennifer is an English major, we should write the blog. So, here we are. We will be updating the blog as often as we can depending on internet access and the day's events. Feel free to email us with your questions.

Snorkeling for the First Time

While some of the 22 members of the class have had experience snorkeling (like Kari) the rest of us have never used a snorkel, fins, and a mask before (as was the case with Jennifer). So after an hour on introductory material we hit the pool. We learned to breath comfortably through our snorkel tube (it's surprisingly difficult to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose when there's something over both...), swim with our fins, dive to the bottom of the pool, and spit in our goggles to keep them from fogging.

In the Classroom

The day can't be all fin and game (I love puns -Jennifer), unfortunately; we had at least two hours of class time as well. On either end of our snorkeling adventure, we went went over some key features of the island from which we will be reporting over the next couple of weeks (starting Thursday!). It is roughly 72 square miles, and is almost as much water as land. Like Iowa, this land is cheifly composed of limestone. Unlike Iowa, there is no snow... San Salvador used to be called Guanahani by the Lucayan indians, who inhabited the island once upon a time when it was covered in tropical hardwood forests. It was renamed San Salvador, "Holy Savior," in 1492 by Christopher Colombus as the first landfall of the "New World." This occastion is commemorated by four monuments marking the landing. In four different locations (including the one 40 feet below the water).  

In addition to some island history, we went over the various habitats we will explore, the differences caused by the weather (as long as it's above zero, we'll be happy), and discussed the physiology of coral (not a plant, by the way), which is much more exciting than it sounds. Promise! We also talked about some of the creatures we hope to encounter, including the curious barracuda. While the ferrocious-looking fish is quite frightening, they mean you no harm; they are just as interested in observing us as we are in observing them. So when you get that feeling like you're being watched...You probably are.