It was Tuesday. After a brisk morning wake up and lovely breakfast we were split up into 2 groups. The sea stars and the urchins. I myself was a urchin. However out task was the same. We were given a list of all the marine invertebrates around the island. They had the names in Spanish and English but we had to memorize their scientific Latin names such as the Diadema mexicanum, or the Phataria unifacialis.
We then played a game with these teams in place aptly named the invertebrate race. We would line up as our instructor would pull up a picture of one of the invertebrates. If it was a sea star, the sea star team would have to run and grab a flag, while the urchins would chase after them trying to grab the flag that was in the back pocket of the sea star runner. The reverse was true if a picture of an urchin was shown. If the picture was neither a sea star nor an urchin then both runners would be going for the flag in the sand. The team who won the race would then go back into the main tent and have to correctly spell the Latin name of the invertebrate which was on the picture. If they got it right then that team got a point. However if they missed it the other team would get a chance to spell it correctly. If both teams missed it then the tie breaker would be whoever got the closest to the actual Latin name. It was a close game coming down to the last point. Both teams getting the name wrong and it being decided by one letter closer. My urchins pulled out the victory. After taking a victory lap with Trevor we, the winners, got to decide which activity our group would do first. It still being in the morning and not too hot we decided to go on a hike.
So the rest of the urchins and I got ready for our hike while the glum sea stars headed out to sea.the hike wasn’t far but we made frequent stops to gander at the flora and fauna of the island that we happened to see. We got to see the massive elephant cactus, and the useful mangroves. The small fiddler crabs with their strangely large single claw. Once we reached the end of our hike we were sitting in an old dried up water fall with an impressive number of green fig trees around us. We got to sit and contemplate the world around us as we sat in the silence of nature. It was peaceful.
Then we headed back for camp as we got ready for a nice lunch as the other group returned from their trip. After lunch we played another sneaky game in which was also close, but my urchins once again pulled out a comeback victory.
Then it was time to suit up for our marine invertebrate senses. We donned our wet suits and snorkels as we rode out to out dive site. Once their a 100 meter line was laid out on the sea floor. With our dive buddies our first task was to determine the substrate every meter on the line. Mainly sand, there was also lots of rocks, coral, and algae that we found on the ocean floor. After that was mapped out we had to look for the invertebrates along the line. With our ID cards in hands and memories fresh from the morning learning game we started to pick out what we saw. After the 100 meters our group was done and we started our cold and wet way back to camp.
Once back at our home base we had some free to relax and wash up before our delicious dinner. With our bellies filled we were ready for bed but our instructors had something else in mind. We had to sleepily learn about tomorrow’s activities and what kinds of sea starts lay in our futures. But I’ll let the next person tell you more about them.
– John McCrea