After yesterdays long hike and full day in the hot sun..we were all lulled to sleep last evening with a night long rain shower. We awoke to a gray, overcast morning and set out with our snorkel gear for a sail aboard the “Sadie Seas”. We snorkeled three very different reefs today. Two were in quite deep water..25-35 feet and were full of abundant sea life including a pod of dolphins which greeted us as we jumped into the water. Our third stop was at Hurricane Hole which is so named as it serves as a safe harbor for boats to moor during storms and hurricanes. This reef abuts the mangroves and was relatively shallow. We were able to snorkel up close to the mangrove root system and it was incredible how much of an ecosystem there was to be found amongst the shallows.
Following an afternoon lecture on coral and it’s natural and manmade predators, we spent another two hours in Lameshur Bay identifying different corals and their health. Along the way, we spotted eagle rays, turtles, nursing sharks and lion fish. Everyone had a great experience today and although I saw blue lips and chattering teeth…everyone rallied and snorkeled till late this afternoon. Should we all develop fins by morning, I shall not be surprised.
I must blog a few words about VIERS. Nestled in the forest is a wonderful community made up of some incredible volunteers who have made us feel entirely welcome this week. They are incredible cooks and in spite of all the exercise, I suspect we will all go home a pound or two heavier. Each morning, camp is visited by a doe and her fawns who come for the mangos which fall off the trees. The ground and walking paths are littered with hermit crabs lumbering about in their carry on homes and it seems each night they have a small convention outside the dining hall. Emma the resident cat rolls her eyes and keeps on sitting in her spot. I suspect that one tangle with a hermit crab is all a cat needs to stay away forever. We are allowed a three minute shower each day and yes there were shrieks of dismay from the girls, but after two days…we are a hearty lot. It has been so rewarding for me to see each of these students try something new each day that expands their world just a bit. At night their laughter can be heard in the darkness as the camp quietly settles down for the night.
This evening’s guest bloggers will be from the men’s cabin and so without any further adieu, I give you….Michael, Ben, Nick and John.
“DAY THREE THOUGHTS BY TEAM BLUE”
Today started out to be a rainy morning but ended up being a succesful day. After eating a nice batch of french toast and sausage, we headed down to the dock to await our 45 minute boat ride to Flanagan Reef. After a smooth ride along the scenic coast of St. John, we got right in the water with our fins and snorkel masks to explore these amazing reefs and underwater sea creatures. Right away, Randy (campground operations manager) or “Rando” which is the name we provided him with, spotted dolphins swimming right along side the group. Of course the group was excited to see wild dolphins, but it was amazing to hear it was Rando’s first time since he lives here and is always in the water researching. Good for him,,since it was his 30th birthday today!
Overall, we saw some cool creatures and colorful reefs. After snorkeling for a half hour, we decided to hop on the boat and head over to the mangroves, also known as hurricane protection bay. In these calm waters, we saw giant hermit crabs, brown sting rays and a variety of juvenile fish and coral. Then we headed by boat over to the Tektike site. Tektike is a historic site and a former underwater habitat and research project which was developed by NASA in 1969 and 1970. There we had a blast observing the area and Ben even spotted a nurse shark. We spent a good amount of time snorkeling here while others decided to jump off the upper level of the boat. John and Mike probably had a little too much fun snorkeling since the group had to send out a search boat to find them!! We ended the day at Lameshur Bay where we of course snorkeled some more. This is where we spotted sea turtles, a spotted eagle ray, a stingray, some barracudas and all the cool little fish. It felt like we snorkeled forever but it was well worth it.