From Caitlin and Suzanne: Well.
There is not a word in the English dictionary to properly describe our experiences today. The closest we can come is maybe….surreal?
We started our day with an equation. We completed our mark-recapture study of the hermit crabs at VIERS, using an equation from the 1880’s to estimate population size. Astoundingly, there are, according to our data, 1,753 hermit crabs populating the front quad of VIERS. Wow!
Today was our tour day, so Suzanne showed us around the stunning Annaberg Ruins, shedding some light on the history of the plantation, and Caitlin told us about Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay (which a little spit of land smack dab in the middle of the Bay…it used to be the “field of honor” for settling disputes in the 1800’s). While we hiked our way from the ruins to the bay, we started our community service on St. John and picked up every little piece of trash we could find, separating it out into land trash and marine trash. By the end of the day, we had collected a total of TWENTY-ONE POUNDS of garbage! That’s a lot of trash for a 0.8 mile hike… Once we reached Leinster Bay, we got in the water and started our first snorkel of the day around Waterlemon Cay. It was definitely one of the most beautiful sites we have snorkeled so far. There were so many different fish species and some LARGE parrotfish! We saw our first flounder (he was sneaky, trying to blend into the sand and all…) and half of us saw a Spotted Eagle Ray for the first time (Suzanne saw it, but unfortunately, Caitlin was not in that half…”I WILL see one before I leave!” she says!) There were also two huge and very beautiful Grey Angelfish that a few of the group got to see and some of the girls got some great pictures of them. There were two stingrays spotted as well, foraging for meals on the ocean floor. All in all, Waterlemon proved to be a stunning and very successful snorkel! But, the highlight of the day came when we snorkeled in the Bay for the second time. We FINALLY saw our first shark! Every single one of us took off after beautiful five-foot lemon shark, but after about 10 minutes, only two of us were still keeping up the chase: Sarah and Caitlin. We now have jokes being made about us for that… During this snorkel, we also saw a HUGE green sea turtle. He was about three and a half feet long and two feet wide and he had two remoras attached to his shell (those hitchhikers…). He settled on the ocean floor for a while to rest. Most of the group moved off a few yards, but Caitlin stayed suspended over him. When he came up to breathe, he surfaced a foot away from her…three times. She squealed she was so excited. The rest of the snorkel was calm and beautiful, filled with schools of silver sides being preyed upon by bar jacks, barracudas, and houndfish (it may not sound beautiful, watching fish be eaten by other fish, but it was…don’t judge). There was one other snorkel site that we visited, but only Renee, Morgan, and a few of the girls went in. Apparently, the rest of us missed out because when they all came back out they were all talking about how breathtaking it was…guess the rest of us will have to wait ’til Saturday. One the way back to VIERS, we stopped off at a little place called Skinny Legs (before heading to the grocery) to get some souvenirs. It’s a relaxed, festive little bar and grill (which also happened to sell things) with nice people and plenty of creatures running around…like donkeys….and small dogs. Whatever, I think we’re used to seeing donkeys everywhere at this point! Dinner was lovely tonight, the VIERS volunteers served us some delicious pasta and lasagna with salad and pineapple upside-down cake. Thank you, VIERS!! You are all the best! We can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us, but we have no doubt that it will be nothing short of amazing. So, until then, Hollins out!