Day 1, 4/1/2011
Our Marine biology group left for the KCI airport sometime around 9:45 after meeting in a parking lot behind the East hills library. From there we flew to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. When we arrived in Florida, there was no longer cold, gloomy Missouri weather hanging overhead. It was bright and sunny, and a wave of hot air hit me as I ventured outside of the airport… It was so nice. I was hoping that by the time we got back to Missouri we would have skipped all the bad weather and gone straight into warm climate. Later on that night our group left for a sea food restaurant. Nash kept reminding us that our group was a lot smaller compared to the previous groups before.
Day 2, 4/2/2011
The next morning we woke up at 6:00 and ate breakfast at the hotel, we were to arrive at the air port bright and early. When we got there our morning flight ended up being pushed back to 3:30 in the afternoon due to our plane breaking down. We rearranged the seating area and played games: Spoons, Catch Phrase and BS to pass by the time. When our plane finally arrived it was much smaller, but I didn’t mind it that much, after all it was only a 45 minute flight. When we arrived in the Bahamas I looked out my window and it looked as if there wasn’t much civilization. Everything was all spread out. As I looked down into the crystal blue ocean, I could see through to the bottom. When we landed we grabbed our luggage and were taken to the dock where we would meet our captains and see are boats for the week. Because we had a big group we were divided into two smaller ones. My group and I were introduced to Déjà vu (our boat), Larry (the captain) and his buddy Rick who happened to be a Marine biologist. He already had a bucket full of sea stars, sea urchins, and cucumbers to show us. They we were quick to give us the rules and chores of the boat and how to run it. After that our groups got back together and grilled out on the dock and combed the beach. Later that night Rick gave everyone a presentation of many different creatures that we would possibly see on our trip. We spent our first night on our scheduled boats and I ended up having to take a Dramamine to ease the dizziness.
Day 3, 4/3/2011
The next morning waking up early was sleeping in for me. I had taken my camera and went to walk along the beach. When I arrived there were already people from my group walking around. I was hoping that I would find something interesting, like beautiful unbroken shells, sand dollars, or coral washed up on the beach. I had never walked along a beach before. When I did, there were so many things; first I found a sea urchin skeleton that had been bleached by the sun. I also saw a little Ghost crab racing across the old washed up kelp. So I tried to pick him up but I ended up running all along the beach back and forth trying to catch it first, and when I finally did I managed to drop it a few times then I tried to catch it again. I was determined to show my crew what I had found. Later on that morning we finally left Fresh Creek and sailed out into the open ocean. And surprisingly enough, Rick told me that I should drive the boat…so I did. Later on the other group set out a ways behind us. Our next stop was where we would have our first snorkel. At first I was the last student getting into the water, first of all water was never my thing, I was always afraid of it, and second, I get cold really easily…And it was COLD! Granted it did get comfortable after awhile. When I looked under water it was about 10ft deep and it was like that for quite a ways. I saw coral heads that bunched into a coral reef that had formed around a blue whole. On our second snorkel that day we went into shallower water and I ended up getting out earlier than everyone else because I thought that I got cut by coral. I was taking a picture of a coral head when I had drifted into shallow water and swiped coral, in fact I didn’t get cut, I was stung by fire coral just from slightly brushing by the top of it. Ouch! We then sailed to middle bite and anchored there for the night. When the high tide was in we tried exploring in a maze of Red Mangroves, then the tide was getting lower and we almost got stuck and would’ve had to carry out the dingy.
Eli standing in front of a beached ship "Lady Gloria"
Day 4, 4/4/2011
We were up and ready to go snorkeling the next morning, the other crew was still sleeping. We got to see another blue whole and that time I actually ventured down into it to take pictures; I got some good pictures of blue tang swimming in a mass together. When we were finished the ride back to the boat was freezing, it was really windy. Later on we went to the near by beach and we found thousands of conch that had almost been washed up clear on the beach. There were also a bunch of sea urchins. There were a few people holding some, and I wanted to find a bigger one and hold it, so when I found one that wasn’t scrunched up under a rock I slowly tried to pry it from the rock when the stick slipped and I got stabbed in the finger by one of the spines. Rick said that I wouldn’t be able to get it out and that it would dissolve I left it alone. We stayed another night at Middle Bight. Fresh Creek Dock.
Day 5, 4/5/2011
Next we sailed to the Golding Key and on the way Rick caught a Wahoo. He also caught mutton snapper and a queen trigger fish. When we got there we explored the island. We noticed a few sheep, and then it turned into a group and then a whole herd of them. Come to find out, the old abandoned buildings were apart of a naval base that wasn’t really abandoned, it was still being used a couple months out of the year and when the military found out that there were sheep on the island they flew in a helicopter to take pictures and inspect the island, and Larry our captains wife was on the helicopter, apparently she worked for the military down there. Mattie and I walked around the island collecting coconuts. When night fall came I went out with a flash light and looked at all the giant sea urchins and other creatures that were coming out in the open. Rick went out to look too and we found a whole bunch of giant sea snails. Then everyone came out to investigate. We stayed the night.
Day 6, 4/6/2011
The next morning we relaxed and ate breakfast. Then we decided that we were going to go out and do some snorkeling around Golding Key. When we went out in the dingy and around the island we ran into a few locals who were spear fishing, so we moved further down and got into the water. When we did, Larry decided that he was going to snorkel too and jumped in. It was beautiful and the reef there was the most colorful one that I had seen yet as we moved further down. I remember getting stung by something, it wasn’t like getting stung by fire coral or a bee, it was minor. Then I heard Mrs. Conard look up and say “Moon Jellies!” We were swimming through a field of them. As we kept going someone would scream out “Ouch” every once in a while.
One of the islands at Middle Bight.
Day 7, 4/7/2011
After we left Golding Key (which we left bright and early so that Rick could catch up with some fishing) we traveled back to Middle Bight. I was actually sad to know that our journey was almost coming to an end, but on the bright side i caught a squirrel fish and when i get back I would be able to catch up with my friends and family again before I would become too overwhelmed with excitement over the trip.
Day 8, 4/8/2011
We left Middle Bite for Fresh Creek the next morning. After we docked in Fresh Creek group Déjà vu had to help clean the boat, it wasn’t bad, I had to help Rick move the dingy from the back of the boat and put it into the water. It was fun but I never realized how much work it took just to take care of a boat and keep it clean. When we were all finished everyone was excited to go take a shower then go to the tourist shops. When we went our other half of the group had just finished shopping from there and said that they were already wiped out. Apparently a different group like us had visited and bought almost the whole store. In the store they sold a lot of cloths, brightly colored cloths, and soaps, bathroom supplies, a lot which was made from cocoa nut. After the visit at the shop we walked across the street to the factory. Compared to factories in the United States this was a small factory but to them…it was the largest on the island. Finally our whole group got back together and we went out to eat at a sea food restaurant after that we walked passed an ice cream shop then to get ice cream afterward. We spent our last night on the boat.
Day 9, 4/9/2011
We woke up early in the morning the next day to arrive at the airport. We then left for Ft. Lauderdale, FL, then to the KCI airport. It was an amazing trip and I am glad that I got to experience being out of the country and out at sea for the very first time.