Breakfast at VIERS is served from 7:00 to 7:30 AM each morning. A delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon and fruit awaited us after we frantically prepared for the day. After eating, we had a pow-wow, where Renee outlined the day’s events, after which Randi provided us with an exhibition of her juggling skills…she even juggled laying down on the hammock! We then began the first stage of our mark-recapture study.
A mark-recapture study is a way to estimate the population size of a species in a given area. Throughout VIERS, hermit crabs roam front quad and the garden. In the first stage of our mark-recapture study, our group scurried to find as many crabs as possible in 37 minutes. The unfortunate subjects were marked with colorful H’s, while those holding them tried to avoid their single pinching claw. We ended up with a whopping 275 crabs. After our allotted time ended, we kept finding more unmarked crabs!!! These lucky crabs still have to escape our second “recapture” stage tomorrow.
Immediately following our adventure with the crabs, we headed to Little Lameshur Bay because we couldn’t wait any longer to get our feet wet. The water was incredible! After mastering our snorkeling skills we headed to Poopy Rock. Don’t worry there is more to be found then bird poop; We also found a myriad of fishes, including our first *lionfish. On the way back from our snorkel, Randi found a tarantula in the middle of the path (thankfully no contact was made with our feet).
After lunch, many of us were pooped from snorkeling at Poopy Rock and many of us hit the sack. Some hit the hammock. A grand total of four were found asleep there.
Once we awoke, we couldn’t wait to get back in the water, so we walked to Great Lameshur Bay for some more snorkeling practice. As opposed to the sandy beach we visited earlier in the morning, Great Lameshur Bay is a cobblestone beach, and it didn’t take long for the rocks to hurt our feet, which only quickened our race to the ocean. The rocks provide a home for coral to latch onto, leading to much more fish, and many more species. Some of us even managed to catch a glimpse of a hawksbill turtle or a southern stingray! While any Hollins student will tell you about the abundance of squirrels on campus, our group can attest to the abundance of squirrelfish (including these blackbar soldierfish below) in the oceans…but don’t worry, they don’t look anything alike. Their big eyes show that they are more active at night than during the daytime. Halfway through our second snorkel of the day, we rested on another cobblestone beach, where we treated ourselves to a hot stone massage session and put dead coral between our toes for a relaxing effect. We also listened to the calming click clack of the waves as they rolled over the cobblestones.
We finished off the day with dinner and a delicious banana cream pie. Yum.
*Lionfish are an introduced species. Some believe they were introduced after a hurricane hit a seaside aquarium in Florida. They have already spread all the way down past St. John and up to New England. They are very destructive to the native habitat as they have no natural predators here.
Written By: Asya Simons and Randi Pedroza