Posted: October 6, 2011

Name: Sarah Imel
School: University of Denver
Major: Biology
Program: Marine Resource Management Studies, Turks & Caicos

My snorkel buddy and I slid off the boat and into the clear blue water. We began swimming slowly towards the reef. Tranquilly we floated along and saw a lightning blue queen triggerfish, an eel, and huge beds of staghorn coral. All of a sudden, a great big ray swam towards us from the depths. Moments of pure shock passed by as we watched the graceful spotted eagle ray swim closer and then directly beneath us.

I was mesmerized. I forgot about everything else and watched it in complete awe. Every time I see one of these magnificent marine creatures, I feel this sense of privilege, gratitude, and bliss. Being able to wake up in the morning, go for a swim, snorkel during the day, and go for night snorkels makes for an immersive experience. I have heard the phrase, “immersed in culture,” and here in South Caicos we are literally immersed in the culture of the sand and the sea.

On land this week, we have been learning about conservation campaigns. We formed groups about different island issues such as trash disposal, the feral dog population, and education. That is the amazing aspect of this program, not only do you see astounding wildlife, you learn about how to protect it, and are provided with the resources and connections to pursue a career in the environmental field.