Name: Jessie Richter
School: University of New England
Major: Marine Science
Program: Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos
There hasn’t been a dull moment since we have arrived at the Center. That is especially true now that Directed Research (DR) has started. Data collection for our DR projects began last week, so things have been extra crazy around here. There is usually some type of research going on every day between the hours of 8 am and midnight.
For my DR project, I have been busy snorkeling after spotted eagle rays. My group members and I have been monitoring their behavior, sexing them, and taking and entering pictures into the database at the Center. Each eagle ray has its own unique spot pattern, like a human fingerprint, so we’ve been trying to match our photos to existing individuals in the database to get a better idea of their distribution, population structure and behavior. There is a lot of intense snorkeling involved with this project, but it’s been a lot of fun so far!
The days keep going by faster and faster and many of us have come to the realization that we will be leaving this beautiful island in a few short weeks. Keeping this in mind, everyone is trying to make the most out of the limited time we have left. There is usually room available for students to participate in other DR projects, including lionfish hunts, seagrass assessment, and shark and sea turtle tagging. Data collection ends next week and then everyone will be busy analyzing data and writing their research papers.