Friday, September 10, 2010

Ridiculatus Taxonomica

Sergeant Abu Definitely drinks Duff when he plays the Saxophone. Lauren is in the CIA and theres a Spy named Raena. Pneumonic devices are the only things getting me through my mangrove identification flash cards for the first exam. Scientific names: The projected bane of my existence for this program. The first ID refers to Abudefduf saxotilis, a Sergeant Major reef fish. The second pneumonic device refers to Laurencia sp. and Sphyraena barracuda. With over 20 different species of algae, fish, and wildlife that we must learn by scientific name, the list of pneumonics is going to pile up quickly. After this set of mangrove ecology identification, we have reef fish, a whopping 85 species to know by name and identification. Other than that, our first class snorkel went off with out a hitch in the mangroves on a nearby island. Our small group of 4 meandered around the tiny island practicing identifying different algaes and marine life, including an amber penshell, a very, very sharp, fragile, lurking bivalve. Our tour led us through 3 different species of mangrove and around the other island to snorkel in the shallows. Schools of curious Schoolmaster Snapper swam right up to our masks and Yellowfin Majorres schools fearfully congregated several feet away from the braver schoolmasters. I just find it spectacular that we hold lectures and exams in the water! Its such a fantastic feeling to be able to say, I'm learning here, I snorkel everyday to contribute to my academic research.

My evening paper was about cultural assumptions and reflections. I realized that I didn't have many observations because I had few interactions with locals over the last week. I decided to go get some first hand observations by going out to Trenchtown Bar with a few students who were either done for the night or researching with me. I played dominos with a few students and a local man named Saul but goes by Smitty, around 50 years of age. He told us fascinating stories about how he is a freediver for lobster and can hold his breath for 5 minutes underwater at 50-60 feet. These stories are similarly repeated by many local freedivers, some of the younger divers shelling out stories of 70-80 feet for the same amount of time. Smitty also said he used to dive 110 feet with Snuba, which is an air tank attached to the boat and an air line coming down to the free diver. The locals are very relaxed, engaged in new people and excited to tell us their stories, since everyone on this small island has heard everyone elses stories too many times. They are also a very verbally aggressive bunch, quickly escalating to arguments between one another, but it rarely ever escalates to physicality, and most people recover very quickly from these little tussles. I was home by 10 to write my paper with some new found stories to tell, and wasn't able to recap this episode's blog, due to the internet being down. I will leave you with a few other pictures from around the center :)

I ended my evening with some fun conversations with Mark about our previous aquarium experiences and passions for the ocean. Some conversation that Im sure I will have with everybody here at some point.

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