Posted: March 8, 2016
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SFS Month-iversary

Turks and Caicos Islands

Put on your party hats and set up the piñata because its time to celebrate! We are celebrating our month-iversary of living on this beautiful and unique island.

Here is what I would like to celebrate: being able to identify 150 marine organisms by memory, making amazing friendships, being in the ocean multiple times each day, being so tan and blonde that I’m unrecognizable, cake, and collecting data that helps to expand the world’s knowledge about our oceans.

Things to be sad about: I have yet to see a sea turtle, and I have to leave here in just over 2 months. If the next few months pass as fast as the last one has, I will be home in the blink of an eye. I don’t think I could ever be ready to leave this place and these people. But, enough with the sadness, it’s time to continue celebrating! I’m going to give you some reasons why you should love South and the SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies as much as I do:

Let’s start with the cake. We eat a lot of cake here at the Center. No one ever needs an excuse to bake. Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Open Water Diver certifications, faculty scientific publications. There was one week where we had cake almost every night, and I’m not just talking any old cake. There was coconut cake, Guinness cake, banana cake.

I’d also like to celebrate our contributions to scientific research. Over the past month we have put in endless hours in the classroom and studying flash cards to memorize scientific organisms. But because of this, we have been able to go out into the field and survey the health and biodiversity of mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and reefs. We have also contributed data to the Coral Watch database on coral bleaching and participated in field exercises collecting conch to assess the health of the conch fishery here on South.

Next up in the celebration queue is friendship. Not to sound sappy or anything, but it has been really cool getting to know people from all over the country who have the same passions that you do. Everyone loves being in the water every day. No one complains or refuses. We all have a respect for the environment and marine life. Most of us love the outdoors in general and have no problem showering once a week. We all enjoy playing cards and ping pong, or watching a good movie, or reading a good book. We also have a lot of people willing to be your running buddy. There is always someone interested in doing what you enjoy to do. There is never a “no.”

Next let’s talk about learning by doing. I had forgotten how much more you can learn by getting your hands dirty than by sitting in a classroom. We do in fact sit in a classroom here as well. But that is just to prep us for the field. When we go out and put our knowledge into practice, we expose ourselves to the ocean and we retain much more of the information presented to us. We don’t get bored because we are having fun while learning. I had forgotten how much fun learning can be and that we aren’t all made to learn by sitting in a classroom.

Lastly, sunrises and sunsets. Each sunrise and sunset is unique and different. With all of the environmental factors at play, each sunset is like a finger print the earth is leaving on the sky. No two are ever the same. I take the opportunity every night during dinner to sit and watch the sunset, and every night I am left wondering and curious about the mysteries of nature.

Photos by Erin Lyons

→ Marine Resource Studies Semester Program in the Turks & Caicos Islands

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