The people here at both the Center and in the broader local community are amazing. And what an exciting third week it has been here on South Caicos!
“What’s up, sports fans?” or “What’s up, yo?” as Clarence would say. My time in the Turks and Caicos so far has been a dream. The people here at both the Center and in the broader local community are amazing. And what an exciting third week it has been here on South Caicos!
On Monday we started off with morning lectures about population dynamics in fisheries and overfishing and sea grass biology and communities. After lunch we got together and studied for our mangrove identification test, which is one of two in-water identification field exams during the semester. To help everyone learn, I hosted a mini trivia show testing my fellow students on the different organisms. Then, taking a break from studying, a bunch of students and I ventured into town and stopped at Johnny’s and Tarsha’s shops. At Johnny’s we grabbed snacks to bring back to the center and at Tarsha’s we bought some toiletries and souvenirs. After dinner, we had our scuba diving open water class and watched the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie together to cap off the night.
Watching the sunset on the rock jetty. Photo by Theo Bufferd.
On Tuesday, we had a three-snorkel day. Our morning began with a great breakfast of chocolate chip muffins, scrambled eggs, cereal, bagels and more. We then had a stock assessment briefing for our resource management class and worked on the stock assessment math all morning. Grilled cheese was for lunch and then we made our way into the swim zone to snorkel before our field exercise that afternoon. We saw an array of fish, an eagle ray, a small southern sting ray, a barracuda, a porcupine fish, a bearded fireworm, and two octopus. Then we went on the field exercise to take notes on the organisms that inhabit the area, helping us with our economic valuation of the area. We saw two eagle rays, barracuda, conch, lionfish, small reef fish, crabs and more. After coming back, we had chicken and potatoes for dinner, followed by a night snorkel in the swim zone, where we caught glimpses of eels and octopus.
A southern stingray lounges int he sand off the coast of South Caicos. Photo by Theo Bufferd.
Wednesday is one of our two waterfront and community engagement days during the week, meaning in the morning there are snorkels and dives that students can sign up for while in the afternoon we do outreach throughout the center and community. The divers saw turtles and barracudas and the snorkelers saw eagle rays and southern sting rays. We had burritos for lunch and then everyone split off to either nap or do homework. As a part of Caribbean Wellness Week, we finished off the day by participating in a community walk with members of the town.
Pancakes for breakfast on Thursday was a great start to the day, especially since we had our mangrove ID exam that morning at a place called ‘Moxy Bush.’ The exam went well and we headed back to the Center for lunch and class all afternoon (learning about spiny lobster, queen conch, and related fisheries here on South Caicos).
There’s nothing like waking up at 6am on a Friday morning to go and play some intramural soccer and then coming back to eggs for breakfast. We had class all day and then a pirate-themed murder mystery after dinner. Who would have thought that it wasn’t the captain trying to stop the mutiny, or the Governor trying to kill the pirates, but the Governor’s daughter’s boyfriend–the secret pirate! Slimy thief!
For International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, we woke up and did a huge trash clean up at the local fishing harbor with some members of the TCI government, collecting 24 garbage bags worth of trash! In the afternoon, we went on a dive at Dove Cay for the open water scuba class and it was stunning. We saw barracudas, triggerfish, parrotfish, a southern sting ray and a whole variety of beautiful schools of reef fish.
The group at Family Beach after collecting microplastics data and cleaning up trash. Photo by Julia Locke.
Sunday was a lazy day of finishing up homework and getting ready for the week. In the afternoon, we went to the local beach as a cohort to do some tanning and snorkeling – a great way to end the week.
As you can see, there is no typical day here at SFS Turks and Caicos except, maybe, for tie-dye-Fridays and college-shirt-Saturdays. Every day here is a new adventure and you can always expect something different. Warning – if you do come, be prepared to fall in love with the center’s five dogs and the many dogs on the island. Peace out!
Curious to learn a bit more about the SFS Turks and Caicos Islands Center? Click here to read about why we’re based there, our environmental research focus, how we connect and support the local community, and even take a tour of the Center.