Today we took another scenic ride in the open safari car driven by Hamilton,
this time to a heavily forested area with trees high enough to block out much of
the tropical sun. From there we hiked down an old Dutch “road” to see the
petroglyphs, rock carvings made by the pre-Columbian natives of the island
between 400-900BC, and the ruins of the Reef Bay sugar mill. On the way, we
stopped to learn about several native trees with interesting names, such as the
“Monkey no Climb” tree. We also observed a variety of small creatures including
hermit crabs (again!), spiders, and anoles – small gecko-like lizards. In
addition we passed the ruins of a house that was once a village, although it
had been so well reclaimed by the forest it was hard to see any sign of it
beyond the single mostly intact rock foundation. The site containing the
petroglyphs looked as though it would be beautiful in the wet season, as Randy
told us that there would be a waterfall then. Though not quite as beautiful as
it could have been, the place was still pleasant, made up of large smooth rocks
and with quite a few dragonflies and birds flying around near the two water
pools in the rock. One bird was particularly friendly, first sitting on a
branch near one part of the group and then landing on a rock near another,
staying there longer as one of the group was feeding him pieces of bread. The
petroglyphs themselves were amazingly well preserved and quite striking. One
set was better preserved than the others and reflected in the water, creating a
nice mirror effect.
The Reef Bay sugar mill ruins were large and relatively
well preserved, considering that they have lain abandoned for multiple
centuries. One of the larger buildings still had its roof and housed more
hermit crabs and, more importantly, several bats. The bats remained hanging on
the ceiling, but our presence woke them and their sleepy shuffling about to get
comfortable again was quite adorable. The ruins themselves were interesting as
well: looking more intact than some of the others we visited allowing us to
better imagine what the site would have looked like when it was in
After the hike we ate lunch and had a short lecture about Field
Survey Techniques that represent the diversity on the reef. There two types of
Data quantitative which is the number of each species identified and counted.
The next is qualitative, the presence or absence of a species. The different
types of techniques were Manta Tow Technique, which has a person being towed
behind a boat with a board to hold onto and use to write notes on as well. The
Plots Belt Transects has a tape measure set down over a set area and a person
swims along side keeping tract of everything they find on both sides of the tape
measure with a board to take notes. The technique we did today was Quadrants.
This technique uses a large square grid placed on the sea ground and you can
count the species inside the grid. This isn’t helpful for special relief and
different size objects, but is good for averaging the quantitative amount of a
species in a given area. We went out with 1 by 1 meter grids and laid them on
the sea floor and counted the numbers of rocks inside the grid to give an
“estimate” of the number of the fish while snorkeling in Little Lameshur Bay.
Tonight was a fun night because we had a special guest come Ital
Anthony. He had a cultural presentation about folk medicine and different
native plants. We learned about 30 different plants you can find around the
Virgin Islands. For example the eyebright plant is used for red and itchy eyes,
it’s boiled and cooled with hot water and used to wash out the eye for relief.
After his folk medicine and plant presentation we started learning about the
percussion instruments. He started singing different native songs for us to
dance to and we all joined in!
Shout outs to Dad,
Mom, Steph, Jess, Katie, Erin, Sam and Dave miss and love you guys ! I can’t
wait to come and tell you about my amazing experience here in the Virgin Islands
Mom – I’m fine and they are feeding me well. Stop
worrying. If you haven’t already, let poor Roxie sleep in your room.
Shannon, and Laurel – if you guys are reading this, hi!
I hope Maggie isn’t being too loud & hi dad I hope you’re enjoying the cold
Hi mom, dad, henry, dust and Charlie,
enjoying the cold weather, while I’m getting my tan on. Can’t wait to come home.
Love you! – Ariel