SaintJoe H2O

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Yesterday we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to begin our adventure miles from home. Around 12:30 PM, 7 of us loaded a small plane with a pilot named Eddie (I got to be co-pilot!) and we set flight over the ocean. The ocean is simply breathtaking and magnificent. Looking the 5,000 feet down to the shades of blue wasn't full of much to look at but I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I was looking for something to strike my eye, to jump out of the water...SOMETHING! There were a few flecks of fish maybe, riding the surface but no matter-my eyes couldn't leave the sight of the waves crashing and the unknown.

It was interesting to watch the shoreline and skyscrapers fade, heading towards empty sky and empty sea. Have you ever seen the other side of a cloud?...It takes a certain skill to navigate through fog and air when there seems to be nothing ahead.

50 minutes pass...

We landed (quite smoothly, I might add) on single runway Andros Islands, Bahamas! The customs building was literally a one-hallway building with both doors open on each end creating a wonderful cross breeze! We filled out a single slip of paper with general information on it and got our passport stamped. Which is quite an exciting thing for a first time country leaver...

We loaded all of our gear up in a cab where a driver named Freddie took us down the winding roads   that were even worse than St. Joseph, Missouri roads (potholes galore). Native Pines bombarded each side of us and Freddie gave us the grand ol' tour. The Native Pines on each side of us were on fire! The United States has wildfires and mountain fires and such but the difference between here and there is that we put ours out. The Bahamians just let it burn.

The field station...

The field station was AMAZING! PERFECT! A cabin-like place, white sandy beaches, palm trees, friendly natives. Words could not describe the beauty of this residence that we were so privileged to experience. I couldn't wait to dive into the ocean!

 A few of us snorkeled around the ocean area in front of the field station. There weren't many fish but when we did find one we were ecstatic! (All of our studying paid off). We saw some Beaugregory, Fairy Basslet, Yellowstriped Grunt Juvenile and a few other fish. Very cool. 

Finally the others arrived around 5-5:30 and we headed over to the boats where we were to live for the next 7 days. By the time we got there it was dark so I wasn't sure how exactly the view was from where we were "rocking", but I was betting it was gorgeous. It wasn't until the AM that I got to explore.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Erika Enlow and I walked down a trail to where a sandy beach stood. I couldn't wait to snorkel (yet again) so I slapped on my mask and breathing tube and stuck my face in the water. There wasn't much plant life so the fish we saw were far and few between-but we did see some. The most abundant of species we saw were starfish! Just relaxing on the ground.

Then came the "real" fun...

Each group loaded onto their dingy and we set out for some reefs! It was quite a ways out from the dock, maybe about a mile or so-we dropped anchor and dove right in. There were fish everywhere! Blue Head Wrasse, Blue Tang, French Grunt, Princess Parrotfish and so much more! ALL OVER! Studying really paid off when I was able to recognize what I saw. The waves were crazy rough but I didn't mind at all. (It just meant we got a workout along with an awesome experience). It aws especially fun to duck dive below the surface and get up-close-and-personal with the fish and the plants. They would peer back at us like "hmm what are these creatures?" It was like finding Nemo only far more vibrant.

We snorkeled up and down this reef for probably 2 hours-all the while getting sun-burnt! We loaded back up in the trusty dingy and headed back to the dock for some lunch...

We loaded back up in the dingy and set out in the other direction for another spot to snorkel along the edge of the mangrove forest. There were quite a few fish around there as well- a lot of grunts and upside-down jellyfish. The water was very cloudy because of numerous accounts of kicked up sand  so it was tough to see clearly...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Finally! The day arrived to set sail. We secured the deck, fueled up, topped off our water tanks and set out on sail boat Conchy for the Exumas. 65 miles from Andros and about a 10-11 hour day. Yeehaw. I rode on deck some of the way and I was careful not to be a victim of 'man over board'. Captain Chuck let me learn to sail. It was sweet! I want to be a captain and own my own sail boat! How cool would that be?! ONE DAY!! I got seasick after awhile but after a whole stack of saltine crackers and a couple Dramamine pills, I was golden. 

We arrived to our "Anchor" spot after dark. There were numerous other sail boats anchored around us (neighbors in the middle of the ocean), two of which were fellow classmates on the Calypso Poet and Moonshadow. Boy was it rocky. We woke in the middle of the night to rain dripping through the vent  and pans banging around. I actually slept with TWO sheets.

How bizarre. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We rose early and set off at 165 degrees SE. It started out cloudy but the sun started to peek through. We finally arrived at the "Coral Reef Sea Aquarium" which is a part of the Exuma Keys National Park. We lowered the anchor on Conchy, slapped a healthy layer of sunscreen on and gathered our snorkel gear and set out in our dingy to the next snorkel site.

Oh! And also a very important piece of information is that we are probably less than 600 feet from Johnny Depp's private island! *swoon*. The beach is the most pearl-white-smooth looking sand I have ever seen from a distance. There is one lone wooden shack just a few feet from the shore. Simple and magnificent. One random tidbit of information is that all beaches in the bahamas are public property. So even though Mr. Depp's island is private, we still could have set foot on the beach front. Cool.

ANYWAYs, back to the sea aquarium. Wow. I thought that the other snorkeling sight was awesome-but this out does it by a long shot. The colors were so brilliant and perfect, illuminated by the sun, home to thousands of species of fish. Words cannot explain the beauty captured by these surroundings. Here we took the underwater slate down with us to record what we saw. My favorite fish that I observed were most likely the Squirrelfish. They were always hiding and you had to really keep your eyes peeled to find them (like where's waldo).

The water was a bit chilly and we were all shivering in our exploration but it was well worth it.

We loaded back up and returned to Conchy. I got to experience my first Joy bath. We jumped in the turquoise blue ocean, careful to keep one hand on dingy because the current was something fierce, got back in the dingy, lathered up real well with joy (both the soap and the emotion ;), jumped back in the ocean, made our way to the ladder and rinsed off with fresh water. It was a blast! The real fun was getting pounded by the current and holding on for dear life. 

For dinner, Moonshadow gave us some Mahi-Mahi Dolfinfish, fresh from the ocean! It was getting dark by then. We sat up on deck and talked about anything and everything from fruit composition to alcoholic beverages to movie quotes.

We were out by 9:00-9:30. The waves were perfect-a nice slow rocking to sleep. I slept in pants and socks if that gives you any clue to the weather.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We rose with the sun and to the aroma of coffee. About 15 other sailboats joined us over night and  their boughs peered at us against the sunrise. 

Staniel Cay

I swear every snorkeling sight we go to gets better than the last. of course, we dropped anchor in 10 feet, right next to the little island of Staniel Cay which, by the way, is busy as ever with the "Staniel Cay Yacht Club" and other sail boats and yachts. We loaded into the dingy and headed over to Thunderball Gratto. And holy moly. That place was AMAZING! --And crowded!! There were a ton of other snorkelers and tourists. 

Fish everywhere! Coral everywhere! You know when you were little at the zoo aquarium and you'd say, "I wanna swim with the fish" well, I go to do that today! I couldn't go a mere foot without potentially running into a Sgt Major or a French Grunt or a Blue Head Wrasse.

Going around the "coral island" we were greeted with an opening to a cave. You'd have to duck dive with a breath full of air and when you pop back up you're surrounded by rock above you with a single opening to the sky at the center. The water was a few degrees colder in the shade but the population of fish was immense. And then you could find other tunnels that required a duck dive and a breath and then a beautiful blue-indescribable, turquoise, baby, ocean, sky blue- opening to another realm was tempting and available for our discovery. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

The current going out of the cave was something fierce! I started to laugh at my failure to get any progression! Haha! I could have drowned! I was cracking up. I soon discovered that going diagonal allowed you to make it against the current.

_ _ _

We loaded in the dingy (surprise, surprise) and headed into the town of Staniel Cay! This island was beyond cool! Definitely a tourist town full of ritzy yacht owners part of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, all seated around the bar with their white visors and margaritas. They were definitely on island time. Pure bliss. We walked around, past a creamsicle orange Baptist church, native men playing an intense game of dominoes, and numerous colorful buildings. There were also a couple of natives feeding some nurse sharks and sting rays. We had to head back before the sun set.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

We rose early to make a big breakfast. Then we set off to "Little Bell" island and coral reef exploration area--it was some park. As we dropped anchor, instead of loading up in the dingy like we typically do, we just swam over with our fins, mask and snorkel. That was a neat experience because it was freedom at a whole new level. We were alone in the wide open blue, basically fighting, battling (swimming merely) for our survival. It really was only about 11 feet deep but with that sort of mindset and imagination it kept things interesting.

The most interesting aspect of this reef exploration in particular was that it spanned across a pretty lengthy wall and after the last curve, a current could potentially sweep you away into the abyss. I saw a great barracuda...those bad dads were pretty daunting up close. He would sort of peer out of the corner of his eye up at you swimming peacefully and slowly above him, examining his every move. I was just waiting for him to pounce.

When we were through examining the coral and the many species of fish, we swam to the secluded, "deserted" Little Bell island. This beach was incredible. Sand as soft and powdery as flour and free of any human existence. Erika and I walked almost the entire length of this island then we turned around and swam back to Cap'n Chuck on good ol' Conchy. Then we had another Joy bath Woo00HooOO00o.

We continued sailing because we had to be able to make it back to Andros by Friday so we didn't set anchor until way past night fall. T'was our last night on the open water so we shared more laughter and discussions then we slept.

Friday, March 29th, 2013

We rose early to help Chuck prepare for sailing. We got to witness the sunrise one last time. It was beautiful. We sailed. All day. 10 hours.

Once we returned back to "Andros Town" we all devoured some fried conch and fries at Hank's place then we slept for one last night on the ocean.

Saturday, March 30, 2013 

Some of us kicked it at the field station until our little flight back to the states arrived. Even though I could live at this magnificent place, I was ready to be home with family. We said our goodbyes to the natives and interns and headed home, once again over the wide ocean. <3

Tags: Biology, Education, H2o, Joe, Marine, St., Students

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Sean Nash's 5 discussions were featured
Feb 6, 2014
Rylee Hanlan posted a blog post

Island Time

Living on Island TimeThe first couple of days were spent waiting on this and on that and it truly felt like a year had gone by.  The first day was spent waking up early and driving to KCI airport where after about an hour or so of waiting we finally got on the plane that took us to Florida.  I sat in the very back of the plane with Zach and McCabe and I learned a valuable lesson from Zach when you get your free drinks on the airplane "always ask for the can".  The next morning we split into…See More
Oct 23, 2013
McCabe Davis posted a blog post

A New Experience

I woke up early and went to meet everyone at the library. Once we got our passports and tickets we all headed to the airport. We took a flight to Ft. Lauderdale.  Once there we all we out to eat and I had a Mahi-Mahi sandwich and tried some oyster, steamed clam, and calamari.  I think out of those 3 I will only have the calamari again.  Then we got our rooms and got the information for the plane trip to Andros.  We had the rest of the night to ourselves and I went swimming and hung out in some…See More
May 21, 2013
Bobbi thompson posted a blog post

Loving the Bahamas!

I have known that I wanted to this program for a long time now. My brother did it back in 2003. I saw how much fun he was having learning the fish and then going out on the sail boats and seeing them in person. I saw what he brought back from the trip and it all sounded like so much fun i just had to try and go. So here I am! I took the class and went on the trip.Day 1 I couldn't sleep, I had to be up at 4:30 in the morning so we could meet at the library and and be at the air port around 6:20…See More
May 10, 2013
Lindsay Doolan posted a blog post

Time of my life!

Plane ride to Andros     My group got here 2nd and right once we got to Forefar we ate lunch and then got in the water.  I was ready to get right in and I saw so many fish.  Shelby Mills and I went snorkeling together.  The first fish we saw was a Beaugregory Juvenile.   Then we saw a sea slug.  It had orange and blue stripes going down its back.  Then we also saw an adult Beaugregory.  The next fish was a cocoa Damselfish.  This fish has a blue color on top ends and a dark spot on the upper…See More
May 6, 2013
MacKinzie Lillian Conard posted a blog post

Aye, Mon! (a.k.a. My Bahamian Experience/Greatest Week of 2013)

Where do I even begin? Or better rephrased, how do I start telling the tale of the most intriguing adventure I've ever gone on in my short 17 years of life? The most obvious answer would be to start with Day 1, which is only logical, but once you've started reading my account, I think you'll understand why I didn't know where to begin. Day 1- Friday, March 21st, Saint Joseph to Ft. Lauderdale Boy, I definitely wished I was a morning person that day. We met at a parking lot at East Hill's mall…See More
May 6, 2013
Shelby Glenn posted a blog post

The Bahamian Experience

Everything about the Bahamas was pretty much perfect. The weather, the people, the lifestyle, the water, the air, the night sky, and the people. Did I say people twice? Heck yes I did because the people truly were some of the coolest people ever.They were some of the most down to earth and friendly people I have ever met. There was even a statue of a pair of hands shaking to really reinforce the fact that they were very friendly people.The first day that we spent on the island I played some…See More
Apr 30, 2013
Shelby Mills shared their discussion on Facebook
Apr 15, 2013
Shelby Mills posted a discussion

Under the Sun-2013

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013Yesterday we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to begin our adventure miles from home. Around 12:30 PM, 7 of us loaded a small plane with a pilot named Eddie (I got to be co-pilot!) and we set flight over the ocean. The ocean is simply breathtaking and magnificent. Looking the 5,000 feet down to the shades of blue wasn't full of much to look at but I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I was looking for something to strike my eye, to jump out of the water...SOMETHING!…See More
Apr 15, 2013
Rylee Hanlan replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"Although this chapter wasn't my favorite that I've read so far, I did learn some new and interesting things.. Like what Christmas tree worms are! And just how important sea grass is to the ocean. The reflection strategy that I used for…"
Mar 18, 2013
Jaycen LeeAnn Wilson replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"I made my key note about how everything is part of one. It's kind of like the lion king to me. Everything has to do with something. Or it's some disney movie like that. I loved this chapter, I think it was my favorite so far. I love how he…"
Mar 18, 2013
MacKinzie Lillian Conard replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"This book never fails to amaze me! I have always thought of a coral reef as being its own "island" because it is so diverse and strong by itself. However, Davidson very quickly points out that coral reefs are a small strand in a large…"
Mar 18, 2013
Rylee Hanlan replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"I thought the same thing when I was reading, and came across the term " Christmas tree worms" I google imaged it and thought they were pretty neat as well!"
Mar 18, 2013
Shelby Mills replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"Yet again, the seas continue to amaze me in their ability to support each other even when they get no appreciation. One thing in particular that I thought was simply spectacular about this chapter were the Thalassia and their development of mature…"
Mar 18, 2013
Lindsay Doolan replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"Everything you write about in these discussion's are so creative and I really enjoy reading them. They are usually the first thing I read because it opens my mind about what I want to base mine off of. Great job! Also your Sci-poe last time was…"
Mar 17, 2013
Lindsay Doolan replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"Okay, mine might seem boring because it is only talking about one thing. The Thalassia Testudinum a sea grass, but i found this story or part of this chapter really interesting. I thought it was beautiful how the 'parent' "bathes the…"
Mar 17, 2013
McCabe Davis replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Rise of Corals & The Heart of Lightness
"I think Shelby did a great job on his sypo. It explains how important the tropics are and how much the sun affects the life of diversity there."
Mar 17, 2013
McCabe Davis replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
"Mangroves, sea grass, and coral reefs. I never would have thought that these things would be interconnected so deeply. A braid within a braid. This chapter talks about how these three components are all connected and what roles they play. The only…"
Mar 17, 2013
Madison Steilen replied to Sean Nash's discussion The Outer Strands
Mar 17, 2013
Megan Makena Zimbelman commented on Kelly Drinnen's photo

Coral Patchwork

"I truly enjoy the intricacy of this shot.   I love how when one looks closely many colors can be found within this single image.  One of my all time favorite quotes is "Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint you…"
Mar 17, 2013


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