Today will mark the first week that we’ve all been here on South Caicos at SFS. It has been an eventful and fun week of studying, snorkeling, scuba diving, outreach with the local kids, and playing games to get to know each other better. We have four hours of class each morning. This week we’ve learned about the resource management of local fisheries and how it impacts the environment, politics, and present and future laws and requirements at both the local and national level. We have also just started to learn about seagrass and mangroves, and coral reefs and the marine invertebrates and vertebrates that inhabit these ecosystems through identifying them by their scientific name and phylum. Once we learn about them in the classroom we go out in the field on snorkeling class trips and put our knowledge to use by finding these organisms, pointing them out, and stating their name. These field exercises allow us to have hands-on experience outside of the classroom. Be careful what is “hands on” though – I learned the hard way not to rub your hands on a Condylactis giganteus (anemone), but now I will never forget that name!
Even though there is a lot to learn in a little bit of time because this is a summer session, I can already tell that I am learning useful information that will help me in my future career in biology. The SCUBA diving will also allow me to improve my skills, and the many dives will give me the experience I need to further my career. I am also an art minor, so I’m enjoying learning and drawing the 90 different species required for our field journals. It is not only fun drawing all these colorful fish, it helps me learn more easily.
Outside of class, hanging out with the locals is so much fun. The kids are very sweet and instantly want to become your friend. They want to be your partner in the various activities around the Center when it opens for swim lessons and other activities for the local youth on Saturday afternoons. It’s nice knowing you’re also helping them have fun while getting to hear what they know about the island and learn their culture.
For example, dominoes is a very popular game here, which is super interesting because I’ve never even played before. They also love all the typical games we play in the US like soccer and basketball, which is awesome for me because I was a 4-year college soccer athlete. On Saturday morning when the kids have soccer practice some other SFS students and I go and help to coach, and for fun on Sundays the locals like to play, and we go and give the locals some new competition. I am doing both summer sessions, and if the first week is as amazing as the rest I can’t wait to see what the future holds here at SFS at Turks and Caicos.