We're safely back at Luther! It's odd to be back in the land of snow, but we made it. The trip home went smoothly and easily with plenty of reminiscing about our favorite adventures. I asked my classmates what were some takeaways, highlights, or one of their favorite experiences from the trip and here are what some of them said:
One of my favorite experiences from the trip was spending the last day relaxing on the picturesque Monument Beach. We also became familiar with nearly every organism inhabiting the reefs. My overall favorite experience, though, was bonding with ten totally awesome new scientists (and the Larsen's, of course)!
In regards to major takeaways from trip, I was consistently in awe of the wonders surrounding us. We saw many organisms and observed the coral reef ecosystems in which many of them dwelled. We saw in a variety of conditions ranging from excellent to quite poor. I walk away from the trip feeling grateful for the unique experiences we had and the sights we saw. As a result of viewing Sal Salvador, I also walk away with an increased awareness that the coral reefs we spent so much time observing and snorkeling around are currently in a vulnerable state. With shifting climate and continuous anthropogenic activities, in 20-30 years time, Luther will no longer be able to have the Bahamas trip due to a lack of healthy coral reef ecosystems. In turn, I feel a greater desire to stay engaged in actions that will preserve these reefs. This will ensure the possibility for future college students to take this trip and experience the same wonders that we did.
My highlight from this trip was getting so close to a barracuda, I could almost touch it.
The biggest takeaway I found was how research and biology is more than just science... it's also about people and relationships. Every natural phenomenon that we experienced, every organism we studied was enriched by the company of my fellow scientists. The collaboration and community explored anything in the natural world. It revealed the softer side of hard science along with the palm trees and white sand beaches made for paradise.
For me, one of many favorite experiences was snorkeling in the afternoon our last full day on San Salvador at Monument Beach and Sue Point. It was fun to realize how many fish I recognized compared to our first day snorkeling. I had also become very comfortable with snorkeling. The trip reinforced my belief that humans impact ecosystems, and we must work together to save our environments. It was also delightful getting to know ten inquisitive and perceptive fellow Luther students.
In the coming days, our class will be working on writing our research papers, studying for our written exam and making posters to present at the research symposium. And of course, continuing to reminisce and appreciate a fantastic trip and catch up with friends and family.