Today marks halfway through our San Sal journey.
After a long drive down some bumpy unpaved roads, our morning journey began. The group went to a reverse estuary called Pigeon Creek. We learned that this means the mouth of the estuary has a lower salinity content than the end, due to evaporation from the high temperatures. We spent our time meandering between mangrove prop roots, searching through sea grass, and scaling slopes on the river’s floor. Thanks to our class knowledge, we began to identify fish, algae, and other organisms fairly easily. Some students saw a giant four and a half foot barracuda while others saw juvenile barracuda. There was anything from juvenile Nassau grouper to sting rays, and even giant long spine urchins that are dangerous to touch. Towards the shore, some students found sea hares, or giant sea slugs. We had a good time playing with them before heading to Grotto Beach for a field lunch.
The cold cut sandwiches and pb&js were enough to fill our bellies for an afternoon of fun. We first had a quick talk with the professors about our upcoming research projects. Over the next week we will apply what we have learned in the class and out in the field to our research. We then headed to the crystal clear blue water where some played, tanned, napped on the beautiful beach, or identified shells we have previously seen in the field. Some students even saw the shadow of a shark!
After this long day, class consisted of a site presentation on Snapshot Reef, and an analysis of the data collected from our snail counting on Wednesday. We made bar graphs showing the number of individuals counted from each main intertidal zone. We will use these graphs in the future to show the diversity of species across the area.
All in all, it was a great day—can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Payton Hurl ‘20
Alyssa Ulrich ‘21
Mary Claire Lynch ‘20