It feels like we never left.
It has been almost two months since we stepped onto South Caicos soil as staff members, bringing along the many memories we have from our student days along with our excitement to grow and develop in the South Caicos community. It’s been an exciting transition into the intern role, and the projects we’ve been assigned are now in full swing. The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies (CMRS) is a busy place bustling with field research, student activity, and citizen science which contribute to our daily lives at the field station.
We’ve been busy collecting data on the changing structure of the beaches on South and the surrounding cays. In the past, these sites have been turtle nesting grounds and we are interested in having a record of how these particular environments are changing over time. Similarly, we’ve been diving to find out more about the effects of climate change on benthic reef communities. During our research dives we look at coral bleaching, something that is prevalent during the warm summer months, and the composition of live corals on the sea floor.
Continued efforts to find out more about lemon sharks and sea turtles have us out in the water snorkeling at night to catch and tag the animals. Travis is helping lead the sharking efforts, while Connor caught a turtle on the very first outing of the semester. Anela has proven to be the lobster whisperer, snatching the juveniles from their underwater condos with ease. Jess is helping finish up the Christmas tree worm research conducted during her semester as a student, while Emily is heading up the continuous research about climate change in the Caribbean.
The students have been great, working hard on their species poster projects and assessments of Queen Conch in the marine protected area surrounding the island. It’s been rewarding to take them on dives and watch their skills improve day by day. By mid-semester break we hope to have them all certified as advanced open water divers, which means we will get to explore even more dive sites and depths!
We can’t wait for more adventures to come our way. Out in the field there is always something new to explore!