Today was the last day of J-term, and our class presented our finished posters in the research symposium. Noah, Andres, and Brian's final poster title was "Comparisons of Fish Communities Between Mangrove and Center Tidal Habitats in Pigeon Creek, San Salvador, The Bahamas". Megan, Kristine and Alison's project was called, "Distribution of Fluorescent and Nonfluorescent Anemones in the Lower Intertidal Zone", and Trevor and my poster was titled, "Remember the 'Chitons': Differences in Nocturnal and Diurnal Size and Abundance in Fuzzy Chitons in the Lower and Upper Intertidal Zone of Dump Reef". Peter, Caleb and Rachel's project was titled, "Beaded Periwinkle Density on the Sandfly Bush on Windward and Leeward Facing Slopes". Each group also handed in a research paper based from the data we collected on San Salvador.
Yesterday, we completed a written final. Now we will enjoy a break before spring semester, and hopefully each have some time to reflect and share stories about our trip with family or friends.
In a fitting reflection of our trip for the last blog, Dr. Larsen has some final comments:
First off, I want to thank this group of students for their engagement, great attitudes, and enthusiasm. It was my pleasure to guide you on this adventure exploring a unique and beautiful part of creation. My goal was to immerse you in a part of the natural world that you will now feel intimately connected to, know, understand, and want to care for.
Since this was not my first trip to San Salvador, I've been able to observe and compare changes since my first visit in 2002, my last trip in 2014, and 2018. There were positive changes we saw because of the recent establishment of the San Salvador National Parks marine protected areas. Some of these positive outcomes were seeing many young Nassau grouper and young green sea turtles in Grahams Harbour. We also saw many young queen conch in lagoons around the island. Populations of these important species are showing signs of recovery.
Yet, the island has been battered by hurricanes, most recently taking a direct hit by Joaquin in 2015. What is most troubling is not the storm damage we observed, but what was hiding under the beautiful aqua-blue waters. The waters cover the damaging impacts of warmer waters on the coral reefs. Many reefs are now dead and covered with algae, with only scattered soft and hard corals still growing on them. Fish and invertebrate abundance and diversity seems to be down. The magnificent elkhorn corals are effectively gone.
I pray that our society accepts the reality of human-caused climate change sooner than later. We must make the changes necessary to stop human contributions to climate change. These changes are having a disproportionate impact on the poor and vulnerable among us, like the people on San Salvador. The uncharacteristic rains we experienced (12 inches of rain during our first 5 days), the algae-covered reefs, and the lingering storm damage to many buildings on land were all stark warnings that all in paradise is not as it should be.
We have a responsibility to care for all creation. To use our knowledge and gifts to care for this world and to honor the creator of paradise.Let's do this together. Soli Deo Gloria!
Dr. Larsen (aka Capt. Kirk)
A sincere thank you to all the parents or friends who supported my classmates and I to make the trip possible. We also want to thank the Center for Global Learning in helping to inform and prepare us, to Shirley for being our designated nurse, and Dr. Larsen for being engaging and passionate in his teaching.
It's been an adventure in its own "write" trying my hand at blogging. Thank you to all who followed it though the month! If you have questions about the blog, please email me.
Your Bio 247 blogger signing off,