Climbing the Food Chain

Today was our second full day on San Salvador, and we were all burnt pretty bad and exhausted from yesterday’s adventures, so we limited our time in the water. Nevertheless, we set out around 9:00 A.M. to our first field site, North Point Beach. We were tasked with gathering and identifying various types of algae found in the shallows. We brought them back to the beach and began to group them by similar characteristics. Towards the end of the morning, we created a visual representation of our samples to display how frequently we encountered them in the water. We wrapped up and packed up all of our gear and headed back to the GRC for lunch and some downtime, eager to get back out and visit our next field site, Monument.

After lunch we piled back onto the truck and headed toward the south end of the island. At the end of our 20 minute drive, we arrived at our second field site of the day, Monument. This is where Christopher Columbus is said to have first landed on his maiden voyage to San Salvador in 1492. After briefly admiring the monument left in his place, we geared up and got back in the water to study to the reef located at that site. Instead of just exploring, we were instructed to conduct several directed observations on the organisms at the reef and the many interactions involving them. We noticed many similarities as well as differences between this site and Singer’s Point. After everyone had completed their directed observations, we were free to explore the reef. While identifying various fish species such as the stoplight parrotfish, we heard a commotion coming from some of the snorkelers between two reef heads. Sure enough, there was a massive barracuda resting underneath a rock canopy. The entire group gathered around and took turns diving for pictures and just to see this beautiful yet terrifying fish. It stayed under the canopy for about 10 minutes before swimming away into the depths. Everyone had their fair share of photographing and filming this rare specimen while it was at the reef. Shortly after it left, we too packed up our belongings and headed into town for a quick snack detour before arriving back at the GRC.

At the GRC we enjoyed our downtime by tending to sunburns and resting and relaxing before class. During class we learned about the various aspects of ecosystems and applied them to what we’ve seen at San Salvador. Needless to say, it was a very eventful second day. We started at the bottom of the food chain observing and sampling algae and ended up a few feet away from one of the top reef predators. Everyone agrees that time has flown by at San Salvador, despite it only being day 2.

Drew Suffoletta ‘20
Ellen Rosicky ‘19

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