05-28-2017

9:14 PM
Phew... the trouble with being at a field school is that your days are so full that by the time you have an opportunity to stop and write up your log, you're exhausted! Today we went to the outer part of the reef (known more properly as the back reef). This is an area where the water is deeper, but the reef is still protected from the harsher ocean waves by the reef wall. The depth ranged between 2 and 6 meters, so more diving was required than normal. Call me a wimp, but I didn't do much diving--I can't quite get the hang of equalizing, and if you go farther than about 2 meters your head starts to hurt from the pressure.

The back reef is a more complex and diverse environment than the patch reefs in the lagoon where we've been wondering, and has a much more numerous and diverse community of fish. Damselfish, butterfly fish, parrotfish, and even an occasional predator like a grouper. We even encountered a white-tip reef shark resting beneath a coral ledge. Contrary to popular belief, these sharks can pump water past their gills so they don't die if they stop swimming, but they do sink.

At the end of the snorkel, we caught sight of a medium-sized green sea turtle and chased it around a bit. I say "chased," but I don't think it was actually fleeing from us. It swam away and kept its distance, but it also looped around and around as if it was curious about us. I was issued a GoPro this time out, so hopefully I'll have some good footage of the turtle to share when I get home.

On the way back, we glimpsed some dolphins, but they didn't stick around to show off. We did spot about five medium to large spotted eagle rays coming back into the harbor.

Aside from that, the day has been mostly dedicated to catching up on lectures or taking a fish ID exam. It's really hard to learn scientific names just from a list--you only really learn scientific names when you use them--but I did okay.

The weather may deteriorate soon, so we're pushing our megafauna dive up to tomorrow. Hopefully some interesting stories to tell then!
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