By: Heidi Hertler, PhD

Posted: November 8, 2016
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Staff Post

Living in the Moment in TCI

Turks and Caicos Islands

In my travels and in life I’ve tried to follow a motto—live in the moment. Never before have I tried to do that more than during my time here at the Center for Marine Resource Studies on South Caicos, TCI. We, lucky few that get to study here, in many ways live in a bubble. Immersion in a place and a culture are standard components of the study abroad experience, but that immersion reaches new levels, literally and figuratively, here on South.

Home for the last three months

The opportunities that are afforded to us here are some that can be found nowhere else. Every component of what we do here relates directly to the crystal clear ocean that glitters right outside our doors, which is truly our classroom. I have never before in my life experienced a curriculum that is so focused, and so relevant, to what we are surrounded by. We have been introduced and immersed into the fishing industry and culture here on South. We’ve considered ecological, social, and economic perspectives to build a complete and nuanced understanding of issues affecting this community. For example, the problems that arise from a reliance on a natural resource like fishing, the most exploited natural resource on the planet, when global and local fish stocks are stressed to the brink of collapse. The opportunity to learn in this way is one that I’ve tried my hardest to savor. I get to sit in class barefoot and talk about things that I’m fascinated by—I don’t know how it could ever get better than that.

Outside of our terrestrial classroom, we spend a ton of time in our aquatic classroom—the ocean. I’m currently working on my Directed Research project on Christmas Tree Worms, which means I get to SCUBA dive twice a day on data collection days. The fact that I get to go enjoy some of the most pristine water in the world and nerd out over some worms is just too cool. I try my hardest every time I’m hovering over the reef to just occupy that one moment in time. Sea water truly washes away all of your worries, and there is no experience like being 60 feet deep, closing your eyes, and listening to the immensity of the water moving around you.

Cruisin’ to go find some worms

Moments like these have been some of the most impactful while I’ve been here, but every day I get caught up in what I get to experience here. If you get the opportunity to spend some time here on South, make the most of it. Get in the water as much as you possibly can, do crafts with the local children, watch sunsets from the Regatta dock, pet all of the dogs, and never wear anything on your feet to class, unless it’s fins.

Sunset from the dock at Regatta Village

→ Marine Resource Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands

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