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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 2 snorkeling

Day 2: Saturday January 15th, 2011
San Pedro and the waters around, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Click here to see an album of photos from today.

We all slept well last night, if a bit fitfully due to the colder-than-expected weather (the beds have no blankets, just sheets) and a fairly noisy neighborhood (lots of barking dogs). Everyone was awake in time for our 8:00 breakfast of fruit and french toast (with Aunt Jemima "maple" syrup - pretty shocking for this NH crowd!). We then gathered our equipment and walked five minutes to the beach with the boat dock:

Tough life, huh? While here, we are undertaking a small service project to clean the surrounding beaches, so everyone donned gloves and gamely took to that task.

Around 9:00, we walked down the dock to board our ship for the week, Goliath (a British-made catamaran):

As we headed to our first snorkel spot, Ken Mattes, Ph.D., Director of the Tropical Research and Education Center, gave us an orientation to the dive sites we would be visiting today:

We arrived at our first spot of the day, called Pillar Coral. Everyone was most anxious to get started, so they jumped right in and explored these unique coral formations:

Due to wind blowing from the north (an unusual situation in Belize), the waves were a bit high and rough, but everyone gamely carried on. We spotted much unique wildlife, such as this yellow spotted sting ray:

Pillar Coral species list: Elkhorn coral, brain coral, queen conch, slippery dick, pillar coral, flamingo tongue, spiny brittle star, blue tang, purple sea fan, donkey dung sea cucumber, yellowtail goat fish, bally ho, porcupinefish, trumpet fish, sargent major, squirrel eye fish, blue headed wrasse, french grunt, blue-striped grunt, black urchin, yellow spotted ray.

After about an hour of snorkeling, we lifted anchor and traveled to Tres Cocos, a site know for its diverse coral and marine life. We snorkeled for about an hour and identified many wonderful creatures, most of which the students were able to identify:

Tres Cocos species ID: elkhorn coral, brain coral, slippery dick, purple sea fan, trumpet fish, squirrel-eye fish, blue headed wrasse, sand dollar, yellowtail damselfish, staghorn coral, barracuda, peacock flounder, rock beauty, green moray eel, stoplight parrotfish, horse-eye jack, yellow goat fish, christmas tree worm, spotted eagle ray.

We had a light lunch on the boat (tuna sandwiches, water, and the traditional bean dip and chips that the crew prepares after each dive) and then headed to Tuffy, our research site for the week. Here, the students explored the reef to formulate ideas for the research project that will take up our lab time during the trip. We will be returning to Tuffy every day this week to complete our research, culminating in a lab report prepared by each student. We will be meeting tonight in the classroom to begin formulating hypotheses and the research methods that will test these hypotheses.

After returning from our dives, everyone had several hours to write in their journals, rest/relax, and explore the town. We'll have a 6:30 dinner and then classroom work and lab report writing tonight.

There were some purple hearts earned today for blisters from too-tight fins, sunburns, and coral scrapes -- all minor. The weather was a bit windy and colder than expected (high 60s) but warmed up by the end of the day (and far better than the current weather of 10 degrees in NH - so no complaining here!). All in all it was a great day and a great start to our week.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Jamie and Mackie and all your friends. Love reading everynight what you have done that day. Your days sound so exciting.
    Very cold here
    We miss you and love you
    Ga and Bobby

  2. great job on keeping us informed
    thank you dg