Last night, we got to go on a night dive for Marine Ecology –It was one of the coolest things we've done yet! Seeing the fish, invertebrates, and coral polyps all interact at night helped me understand the way the marine ecosystem works on a deeper level. For example, we saw actually saw the hard coral nematocysts out feeding, which only happens at night because there is no sunlight to provide the coral with energy (via zooxanthelle, a symbiotic coral algae). We saw lots of invertebrates out feeding, bio-luminescence as well as large carnivorous fish. We watched as the horse-eye jack would dart in and out of our dive lights. Getting to experience the marine ecosystem at night really gave me a new perspective.
Speaking of new perspectives, in Histories class, our new unit is on tourism: what it means to be a tourist, how tourism has impacted the Caribbean, specifically the Bahamas, etc. We have discussed different works on tourism including the controversial essay A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. Yesterday, we visited Princess Cays, the place on Eleuthera where the Princess Cruiselines come to port. A giant 3000 passenger cruise ship was anchored at the Cay, and hundreds of tourists were hanging out around the man-made beach. We later learned that people had brought sand over from different places to build the beach at Princess Cays, which is a typical practice when building resorts. It was interesting to see the shift in the way I saw this touristy area. The beach looked like any beach; there were no features that were uniquely Eleuthera, and I felt like the people were really missing out on what it means to visit this place. Before, I probably would have enjoyed destination like Princess Cays with lots of water sports activities, snack bars, etc. but while we were visiting, I couldn’t help noticing how stereotypical the experience was. It really made me question the way I see tourism.
In Human Ecology, we have started the intensives unit where we choose one of three areas of focus (i.e. Aquaponics, Sustainable farming, or Plastics) to delve deeper into during 3, 3-hour classes. I chose Aquaponics since that was the one I knew the least about and found the most intriguing. The Island School Aquaponics is a unique lettuce-growing, tilapia-breeding sustainable system. It is all connected so that the nutrients from the fish poop support the growth of the lettuce, and the lettuce filters to water to support the fish. It is amazing how we utilize the capabilities of each natural process. The system is almost completely sustainable; the only thing necessary to maintain the system is the fish food. We grow quite a bit of lettuce and breed harvestable tilapia, all the while using 90% less water than any comparable system! I would definitely love to bring this idea back home on a smaller scale.