Day 6: Trunk Bay Adventure and NFL Tryouts: That Callison is Tough!

June 21, 2010

On day six, we visited Trunk Bay, consistently voted among the top ten beaches on Earth. The most visited beach on Saint John, Trunk Bay is famous for a reason. The jungle yields to a wide beach with white sands, and an excellent reef for snorkeling offshore. Unfortunately, our plan required modification because of the ongoing rain from the tail end of a tropical depression. We snorkeled for an hour or so under dark skies, and were forced to abandon the reef shortly before noon because of the storm. After purchasing lunch and eating food supplied by VIERS, we decided not to get back into the water because of the rain; instead, we played a game of brutal tackle football on the beach. The teams were as follows: Mendelow, Ben, Annalise, Nate (later traded for Mr. Lawrence), Jason, and Graham. The opposing team was comprised of Mike, James, Ryyan, Alex, Liz and Mr. Lawrence. The final score was 10-8 in favor of the latter team. One memorable moment from the game was the first play; Mr. Mendelow was viciously tackled by the 5’4″ James.

By the end of the football game, the majority of the rain subsided, and we played in the shallows for a few hours; our activities ranged from chicken fights and sand-slinging wars with some peaceful swimming in between. Fortunately, no one was seriously maimed by these endeavors, although the events were very tiring.

After snorkeling once more, we took a taxi ride back to camp (we made one stop to buy snacks at a local convenience store). We chatted in the cabins for the next few hours before dinner– hopefully the rain will subside by tomorrow. We are all exhausted!

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Day 5: Camera Submersion, Security Camera, and Final Cleanup.

June 21, 2010

Day five was the final working day, which was very exciting because we were able to finish the camera and light installation process. In the morning, Mr. Mendelow, Jeremy, and Mike put the camera under the dock at VIERS. Meanwhile, the students back-filled the trench housing the cables for the camera. Afterward, we ate lunch and played an Apples-to-Apples game that lasted from lunch until dinner. Nate and Liz helped Mike and Mr. Mendelow to mount a second, above-water, camera at the lab to help with surveillance of the Research Laboratory and the Great Lamershur Bay. Some students also elected to hike a strenuous path leading from VIERS to a mountain road overlooking all three Lamershur bays. We saw huge millipedes, scorpions, amazing butterflies, and an incredible diversity of tropical plants.

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After lights were installed we had an incredible evening watching glass minnows being attracted to the underwater LEDs. Tens of thousands of fish began being balled up by predators, and by midnight, the feast was over. Perhaps we should run the lights intermittently!

Day 4: Diving Different Marine Ecosysytems and Satellite Pointing!

June 19, 2010

We woke up early, tried aligning the satellite again (with no success), and jumped on the boat to go diving. The Sadie Sea Charter folk were amazing (thank you Captain Tom and Gracie). They took us to dive Boobie Rock first, where we saw large schools of fish, crashing waves on gnarly rocks, beautiful gorgonian corals, lots of other hard corals, and a good sized nurse shark.

First we went to Boobie Rock. Great snorkeling around the breaking waves with lots of diverse life to see.

Next, we motored 90 minutes to Hurricane hole on the South Coast where boats have anchored for safety for centuries. We explored the mangrove banks, ate lunch, and had fun in the crystal clear water. The mangroves and seagrasses that we snorkeled in at Reef Bay was a great place for the students to learn the significance of ecosystem nurseries.

Alex commented on the huge abundance and composition of juvenile fish, and many of the kids asked how the stony corals could grow in the low light conditions of the mangrove roots. We motored from Hurricane Hole to Reef aby and swam with rays and schools of fish in the seagrass. Enjoy the Gallery!
Click on image to enlarge, and click again for a bigger image!

After returning home, Jeremey, Trevor, and Mike finally hit the spot with the satellite and got the internet running! Everyone in the camp was ecstatic and we finally knew we could stream the new underwater and above water cam to our website. After looking through the nine hundred or so images we shot today, we all collapsed. Tomorrow we install the webcam!!!!

Day 3: 17th June 2010.

June 17, 2010

We are about to move the satellite dish and modem. Hope to reconnect today. If not we will update blog on Saturday.

Bye for now!

A grueling day in the rain. Kids were troopers after we were interviewed by local press. To see the story, use this link:

Kids worked on trench while Mike and Trevor moved satellite dish. Avoiding Jack Spaniard wasps, the new dish was emplaced on the marine lab, but we could not get it to talk to the satellite.

Click on images to enlarge and then click again for whopping image:

Skies cleared in the afternoon and kids frolicked in the clear waters and kayaked around the bay. Great dinner, stayed up late talking about coral phylogeny, discussed the spill in the gulf, and went to bed.

Virgin Islands, Day 2: Trench and Network Day

June 17, 2010


Nate survived the night after being “stuck” by a sea urchin, Diadema. Graham and Mr. Mendelow went for a run up and down massive hills, leaving Mr. Mendelow in the dust. Woke up, ate pancakes, potatoes, and bacon. Slave labor began at 9am, after Jeremey and Mike determined that the network would need significant work.

After trenching, network work, and some swimming, we ate a great beans, hotdog, and salad lunch. Before heading down to lay conduit, some of the crew began toting equipment down the research station. Upon picking up the conduit, Ben, Nate, and Ryyan discovered a scorpion.

After delivering the conduit to the Research Station, the entire group went snorkeling. For two hours, we snorkeled in Great Lamershur Bay, where we observed and photographed the activity of marine life; we saw black sea urchins, nurse sharks (spotted by Ben), reef squid, a stingray, sea slugs, sea cucumbers, a lobster, reef fish, brain coral, sand dollars, and a nurse shark. Next, we snorkeled in Little Lamershur Bay and played with dominoes until the dinnertime. Meanwhile, Mike, Mr. Mendelow and Mr. Lawrence worked on the underwater camera, which required repair but is currently in working order.

Some more exploring with flashlights and off to bed!

Tuesday the 15th June: We’re in the Virgin Islands!

June 16, 2010

Just arrived late afternoon after 18 hours of travel.

We are in the Virgin Islands installing our new camera system, generously supported by the NPS and The Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park (FVNIP). Check out our first day in the gallery. Tomorrow the hard work begins!