• Subtropical and Marine Biology

Day 8: Three-a-days

Telephone Pole Reef

We woke up for our normal breakfast time, and prepared for our normal morning snorkel; today at Telephone Pole Reef, exactly 5 telephone poles from Snapshot Reef. The water today was the definition of Caribbean Blue (when there wasn't a reef, then it was sort of greenish) and the clarity was amazing. Swimming out, the white sand bottom was as clear as if we were hovering mere inches over it. Once we reached the first reef, the sun streaming through the surface gave everything golden highlights. The colors were especially vibrant, on both the fish and the corals.

Hawksbill sea turtle at Telephone Pole Reef

We flitted about the reef, looking under ledges and peering into crevices to see what may be hiding there. We were greeted with many of the same fish we've seen at other reefs:  Bluehead Wrasse, Gobies, Schoolmasters, Snappers, and Damselfish of every kind. There were Triggerfish, Goatfish, and Squirrelfish, and brightly colored Parrotfish. The Yellow Stingray is always a favorite to see, but Jen particularly enjoyed the school of Houndfish that greeted us on our return trip to shore. My (Kari) personal favorite was the Hawksbill sea turtle that allowed Kyrie D. and I to get close enough for some awesome profile pics. While he led us much farther out than we initially intended, the long swim back to shore was definitely worth the experience. 

Monument Beach

Our second stop today (after lunch, of course) was Monument Beach. While we were originally scheduled (HA!) for an East Beach hike, the weather made it hard to say no to another swim. 

Cholo and Nils take a break

While there was nothing extraordinarily new here, since this was our second time on this beach, the water was clear (ish) and visibility was a lot better. The sun played hide-and-seek behind the clouds for a while, but it was doing a good job at warming us up after we left the water. Taking a moment to "just chill," we had an hour on the beach to do whatever. We walked, talked, tanned, and found some interesting things, like Abby C.s' spear-gun. Austin B. (Cholo) and Nils J. got buried in the sand, and Isaac E. taught Trevor D. how to wave-dive. "It was like getting slapped by a giant hand!" he said after. Why he continued to do it after the first time is yet to be determined.

The highlight of this afternoon was probably the group body-surfing that occurred as the waves got bigger. Bodies were turned into boards, waves were conquered, and sand got everywhere. Everywhere.

Graham's Harbor. In the DARK.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the snorkel trip we've all been waiting for and dreading. The Night Snorkel. Instead of gathering in the classroom with notebooks and pens, we arrived ready to gear up and dive down. Well, we had our suits on, at least; it was a long walk to the beach, and fins would only make it longer. After a quick pit-stop to retrieve some much-needed flashlights, we journeyed down the moon-lit road to Graham's Harbor and the Government Dock for a moon tan and an evening swim. 

This was definitely one of the scarier swims we've done on the trip thus far. Not only were a fair few of the flashlights dimming from their full power, but the already limited peripheral visibility offered by our goggles made every movement out of the corner of the eye something to see. Or swim away from. Usually it was just a bit of turtle grass, or your swim-buddy trying to figure out where everybody else was, and if those lights on shore were from the GRC or the park we set off from.

Lionfish at Government Dock, night snorkel

Despite the eerieness of the trip, there was still excitement at the prospect of what we would see. Shark? Ray? Eel? We actually saw none of those. But we did see a few Hawksbill sea turtles swimming by, and a lionfish hanging out under the dock. There were several fish with luminescent eyes staring back at you, and a color-changing octopus clinging to the rocks. We saw box jellies (Which made Jen nervous. Nervous enough to get stung...), a tiger grouper, and even a reef squid.

The water was warm, the moon was bright, and Luther Biology was out tonight!

Smooth Trucnkfish at Government Dock, night snorkel
Kari and the Hawksbill
Kyrie D. and the Hawksbill at Telephone Pole Reef
Queen Triggerfish at Monument Beach