The past week and a half have certainly been a whirlwind for those of us in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI). Last Monday we left our field station on South Caicos bright and early and headed out on our mid semester field trip! We took a ferry to North Caicos and spent the day exploring different historical and environmental sites on North and Middle Caicos.
We started at Wade’s Green Plantation where we learned about the layout and inner workings of the cotton plantation there. We then went to the government farm where we learned about the native pines they have been working diligently to grow there in an effort to start reintroducing them into the wild where their numbers are dwindling.
Students walking through the upper level of the main house at Wade’s Green Plantation
After lunch, we crossed to Middle Caicos, which has a population of only about 275 people. There, we spent a few hours at Mudjin Harbor, the main tourist development on the island. I think this was, for many of us, one of the highlights of the semester so far! We got to swim in the beautiful cove there and were all excited that there were actual waves to play in, unlike what we normally experience on South. Beyond that, there was a beautiful cliff and cave that we were able to climb up and out through the top of; it was absolutely breathtaking.
Students enjoying the beautiful waters at Mudjin Harbor as others hiked along the cliffs above
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the bat- and guano-filled Conch Bar Caves, which were truly incredible. The geological structures within the cave were beautiful and learning about the different bat species living in the caves was an interesting change from our semester full of marine species. We were all excited when we successfully maneuvered our way through the caves without getting lost!
The next day, we made our way to Provo where we were to carry out our tourism surveys for our environmental policy course. At first, the buzz and crowds of Provo were overwhelming for us all as we have grown so accustomed to the quiet of South, but we adjusted quickly as we spent the afternoon surveying tourists in shopping centers and on the beach. Our survey explored topics such as tourists’ motivation to visit Provo, their knowledge of TCI culture and the activities they planned on participating in during their stay. This week, we are now organizing the data collected in these surveys and starting our write ups on what exactly we found.
Students relaxing on the bus as we move from site to site on our three day field trip
Overall, the field trip was a huge success and was a great lead-up to our spring break, during which some of us stayed on Provo with family or fellow students, while others traveled to places such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or the U.S.
Now, we are back on South Caicos, and as I sat on a tiny bus from Provo to South it felt like I was going home. I think many of my fellow students felt similarly and we are all trying very hard to cherish this last month and a half we have here. A few days back into classes and we are all getting back into the routine of things; with the excitement of starting our directed research projects and completing our Advanced Open Water night and deep dives, our jam packed first week back is already flying by!
First day back to school and we got a beautiful, rainy day dive in for our Marine Management mapping field exercise