This week’s Caciques helped guide the student body through a rigorous academic week and kept things light with a campus-wide game of assassin (the winner has yet to be crowned). Here’s a little bit about them.
The first kayak group headed out this morning! We’re looking forward to hearing their stories in 8 days.
Students have been busy this week pouring over the data they have collected all semester in Research class and trying to make sense of their results. Here’s what student Khalil has to say about his research experience.
In a twenty-minute boat ride from The Island School boathouse, you may see a buoy. Beneath this buoy or pair of buoys there is a rope that reaches eight-hundred to one-thousand one-hundred meters beneath the water, leading to 22-26 hooks catching sharks and occasionally bony fish, or it holds a 7 foot cage holding gulper sharks and Cuban dogfish and a few cameras for The Cape Eluethera Institute and Island School scientists to investigate the post-release mortality rate and factors effecting the mortality rate of gulper sharks and Cuban dogfish. In a group of six Island School students and two CEI researchers as teachers, we are researching to study and find the death rate of gulper sharks and Cuban dogfish after they have been caught and released on long-lines as by-catch by commercial fisheries. We also study the factors that affect the mortality rates. In doing this research project I have had a lot of fun, and we have become experts in gulper shark and Cuban dogfish taxonomy, and stress responses, and we are great at pulling up long-lines even in hard-rocking waves and rain. We joke with our teacher, telling him that we will save the sharks, and that his spirit animal is a Cuban dogfish, even though our goal is to inform fishery management, and everyone knows his spirit animal is actually a cheetah. All in all I have learned a lot and had a lot of fun in Shark research.
Every Wednesday and Sunday students have the opportunity to rise early and go for a morning free dive. Student Nat Davenport took some time this week to reflect on what free diving means to him.
My experience at The Island School has been an onslaught of new activities and things to do. That being said, one constant in my life here has been free diving. Ever since that first Wednesday morning I have been to every single one since then. I have found that it really relaxes me and clears my mind of everything except the task at hand. I have had a lot of fun seeing myself progress over the course of the semester and can’t wait to see where I end up.
For his weekly update, student Stephen Gallagher made a short video to capture his first 45 days at The Island School.
This week’s Caciques finished off another great week. Here’s a little bit about them.
A native of New York City, student Leo Batali found the quieter pace of life on Eleuthera an adjustment at first. A little over a month in to the semester, however, here’s what he has to see about his new home: the boy’s dorm.
I have never lived with a group of kids in all my life, I have never gone away to sleep away camp, or gone to boarding school, every night I would come back to my house and sleep in my room in my bed with no one else in the house but my brother, my parents, my dog and I. But coming from New York City I am constantly surrounded by millions of people: their yelling, their screaming, and their trash; but when I’m in my apartment I am secluded. It is quiet, clean and organized and sorted the way the I like it, but even if I were to live on the hectic streets of the City it still would not compare to living in boys dorm. It is by far one of the most fun experiences of my life. You might think that living with the same twenty-seven boys for one-hundred days might get tiring and boring, but I can assure you it does not, at least up to the thirty-ninth day. From the moments where everyone is freaking out about homework deadlines to singing and dancing to weird alternative music to rushing your personal space to get in the first shower of the day I am not able to get enough of boys dorm.
This week students have been busy putting their recently acquired SCUBA certifications to use in their Marine Ecology and Research classes. Here’s what students Delphine Carroll and Whit Swanson have to say about their diving experiences.
One of the highlights at the Island School for me has been the SCUBA diving experience. Getting certified opened up a whole new world to me underwater. As part of our Marine Ecology Class, we go diving to observe a section of a reef. Only a few feet in dimension, the patch reef that I was assigned to is small compared to the vast expanse of the ocean within which it sits; yet it is so abundant in life. Sea fans adorn the reef on all sides, waving like joyful flags in a parade. In the centre of the arrangement, sticking straight up, is a coral finger that surpasses the rest, forming the pinnacle of the structure. Fish of all shapes, sizes and colors dart around, peep out of holes, and weave between coral and algae, playing tag. Between the masses of network algae, barrel sponges rise up like clay lanterns with intricate designs carved into their walls. If you look around the corner of the reef, a shimmer of light pink and silver, like a hazy vision, hovers just above the rocks. It is a school of Masked or Glass Gobies, whose transparent outline tricks the eye at first, making them appear like phantoms in the forgotten castle of the reef. Around the top of the reef many blue fish, called Blue Cromis, create a false sky, while below in its hideout curtained by oatmeal algae, a big Spiny Lobster lurks, its probing antennas peaking out from the shadows. On one of the dives, during the last few minutes, two big porcupine fish swam out from the larger coral reef right next to mine and the pair swam a loop together. They then went back into their hiding place under a reef shelf, only to re-emerge a few seconds later and swim another loop. It was such an amazing thing to see. From the front, the fish looked like smiley-faces!
I went scuba diving for the first time about three weeks ago. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I was not feeling nervous all the way up until I had to put my head under water and breath. It was such a surreal time my dive instructor Rachel was so awesome to she made me feel most comfortable. The first day of the three day classes was just skills and once we got those over with the third day we went on a boat and we got to do a back roll dive. My dive buddy was Haley and we were a great team. We went to tunnel rock and Rachel took us through a coral reef tunnel. IT WAS SOO COOL! We also saw multiple cool fish. Overall this at first nervous experience turned in to an incredible experience I will never forget.
Island School students have been busy these past few weeks with academics. With only two more weeks before 8-day kayak rotations start, classes are in full gear. Student Margaret Kelly reflects on a recent research class.
I have had many life changing experiences so far, but one experience so far has really stuck out and stayed with me. On one Friday during my research class, my group went out into the field. I am a part of the Deep-Sea Biodiversity research group and for our field day we were going out into the Exuma Sound to retrieve some traps. It was a beautiful day out with only a slight breeze, so I knew that it was going to be a very fun class. The process of retrieving our traps can be long and hard and sometimes we will sit out there for an hour rocking back in forth with the rolling waves watching hundreds of meters of line being coiled into our blue bins.
When we were at the 800-meter mark of our 1000-meter line, 4 of my fellow classmates, the intern helping us, and a visiting teacher all jumped in the water. We wanted to watch the traps come up from the deep blue abyss that we were currently hovering over. I had been snorkeling in a previous class out there, but not being able to see any bottom is a strange feeling. When you look down into the ocean all you can see is the light shining down into an endless vortex. After about 10 minutes of floating in this unreal place I noticed a white blob surface from deep bellow us. After about a minute of observing this strange thing, we all realized that it was part of the traps and that they were almost to the surface. It was absolutely incredible to witness our research actually happening. Once the traps got closer, I realized that what I had seen earlier was actually a Bathynomus giganteous that we had caught. For some reason, it was mind blowing to me to watch the traps surface.
While we were boating back to campus, I started to reflect on what we had just witnessed and also about what a great opportunity I have been given. I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I am going to school. For most people The Bahamas is a place for vacation, but for me it is my campus for everything that I am learning here. Our school days very rarely just involve sitting in a classroom because we are always using what is around us in order to learn more. This hands on learning style has definitely impacted me and I know that when I go home I will be able to take it with me.
Tomorrow morning marks the end of Spring 2015′s first month! Here’s what student Tallis Blossom had to say about her first 30 days.
It’s fast here. Always something to do, someplace to go. It gets a bit hectic and stressful at times. But the overarching experience is amazing. Every day here is a new adventure (or five), and you have to be ready to roll with the punches. We’re over a quarter of the way through and it seems as though we’ve been here for a year and for a second, all at once. I feel like I have known these people my whole life, yet I know only the surface of so many of their lives. Each day I learn a bit more; the place unfolds and the people share more stories with me. I find myself falling in love with these people. With this place. Sure, it’s hard. Every day we learn new content, we reach deeper into ourselves to discuss Omeros in Literature and culture in Histories. We write about a higher level of the food chain for Marine Eco, sitting 40 feet beneath the surface of the water. Research hands us another scientific journal to summarize, and takes us out to sein in thousands of mojarra with the hope of catching even one juvenile bonefish. We run farther before breakfast, we study harder after dinner. Yes, it’s a place that forces us to search ourselves, to push ourselves and wonder and question and bond with each other. The tight scheduling forces me to not be homesick, which is nice, because if I take too long of a break, I begin to think about what everyone at home is doing. And while I will be excited to see everyone again, I need to enjoy this experience, to milk it for all it’s worth, because I won’t ever get it again. I’ve given myself 100 days to sink into the ocean, and go home more alive than ever.