Today started off very differently than most. Instead of a 6:00 AM work out, we were granted thirty more minutes of rest. Our exercise of the day was a free-dive at Tunnel Rock. With no air supply it was hard for many to make it to the ocean floor, but the site’s beauty was visible at any level of the water column. After returning to campus for breakfast, we were split into two groups based on research teams. Sharks Conservation and Flats Ecology had Human Ecology class while Aquaculture and Aquaponics went into the field for research. In Human Ecology class, we learned about the various ecosystems on campus and were taught how to use native plants to make tea and medicinal mixtures. We treated our countless bug bites with a mixture of aloe and sage, both found in the “bush” this morning. This afternoon the groups switched, Sharks Conservation and Flats Ecology moving on to research and Aquaculture and Aquaponics taking their place in Human Ecology class. In Sharks Conservation today, we caught our first juvenile lemon sharks at Page Creek. We set a line with 10 baited hooks across the mouth of the creek, checking the hooks every half hour for lemons. The purpose of the project is to determine the effect that dredging and resort development have on birthing/breeding site fidelity in lemon sharks. At the end of the day, we caught two lemons (one tagged already, one not). After taking all of the poor sharks’ measurements we let them go. It was an exciting day for the Shark team!
In Aquaculture, we put our fish identification skills to the test as we completed our first fish survey at “Hole in the Wall.” It was our first SCUBA dive as the Aquaculture team, and although we only had to identify within a ten by ten foot section of the site, counting all the fish proved to be a hectic job. At the boathouse we talked about our results, and the few number of fish in this uncontrolled setting helped prove our research hypothesis that fish tend to aggregate towards large structures, such as our floating cobia cage.
Tessa and Julia