Tag Archives: semester program

By far the best experience of my life

On Wednesday my research group, Deepwater, along with the lemon shark research group set out to have our fun field day.


It was our last field day of the entire semester and we were all excited to do something exciting. We all arrive at the boathouse, ready to go when our research advisors tell us we are doing something completely horrible: hand hauling. Now, here is some explanation of what that is. In deepwater research, a series of traps were dropped to depths between 500 and 1200 meters. To haul these traps to the surface, we use an electric pot hauler. But when that breaks, there is 1000+ meters of line to hand haul, and that is what our research advisors told us we were doing on what was supposed to be our fun field day.

We all hop on the boats, two pangas, and begin driving to the oceanic shelf in the Exuma Sound, which is what we use as a proxy for depth in deepwater research. As we drive out, we see our buoys and begin to hand haul. After about 2/3 of the line is hauled and coiled into a bucket, our advisors gather us together and tell us that they in fact did not drop regular traps, they dropped a deepwater scientific long line!! A long line consists of a series of baited hooks (our long line had 29 hooks), which are meant to catch animals such as sharks. Species like a gulper shark and Cuban Dogfish are common deepwater sharks that researchers here have pulled up.

I heard our teachers say that we could go in the water and I immediately leaped in with all the other students. I could see the hooks in the water – nothing so far. I keep staring, hoping that soon I would see something. Jeff, one of our teachers, comes up from a free dive and gives a thumbs up. There is something on the line.


I can slowly see an outline of a shark appearing, getting larger and larger till it reaches the surface and in front of me is a 10+ foot Blunt Nose Six-Gill shark. Right in front of me.

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All the students take their cameras to capture this moment.

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Our teachers tie the shark to the side of the boat so that it lays half in the water, half out. This was not difficult because the shark is completely disoriented, as it is not in its own habitat. The shark we pulled up is from 760meters deep and being at the surface, or even in shallow waters, confuses all the senses of the shark. In addition, the shark had been hooked for several hours and after being pulled out of its habitat, was extremely stressed. It did not have the drive to fight because all its energy would be primarily placed in trying to protect itself in survival. They begin to take measurements and samples from the shark while all the rest of us sit in the water and watch in amazement. It was the first time any of us, the students that is, had seen a shark anything over 4feet.

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I am still in amazement that we caught a blunt nose six gill shark. I was able to see its gills flap in the water, its mouth open to show off its numerous teeth.


The body swaying side to side as Jeff swam it back down and then let it swim free back down to its home of 760meters deep.


I watched it until it disappeared into the navy blue, by which time we all had to hop on the boats and head back to campus.

By far the best experience of my life.

by Julia Forster

Photos by Brendan James

Junkanoo Jamboree

After settlement day we all gathered at my settlement, Tarpum Bay, behind the elementary school before walking over to the festival. We walked along the beach until we arrived at the festival.

Photo by Abby Gordan
Photo by Abby Gordon

The second we arrived everybody had the same idea, food, Food, FOOD! The four stands had long lines within seconds while everyone bought drinks, conch fritters, cupcakes, pigs feet and much more.

Abby, Julia, Abbe and Robin at the Tarpum Bay Homecoming!
Abby, Julia, Abbe and Robin at the Tarpum Bay Cultural Fair!

After most of us were satisfied we began to here the loud rum of Junkanoo music so we turned to see the brightly colored costumes. The elementary school had won a Junkanoo competition and was preforming for the festival.

Junkanoo Rush in Tarpum Bay
Junkanoo Rush in Tarpum Bay
Junkanoo costume!
Junkanoo costume!


Boys and girls dressed in bright costume and danced and played instruments through the streets of Tarpum bay
Boys and girls dressed in bright costume and danced and played instruments through the streets of Tarpum bay

All we could see was the radiant colors and lights moving around in a blur with the kids smiling and dancing their hearts out. After the amazing performance, other people went up and sang songs that we knew!

Everyone was laughing and dancing. One local girl, around the age of nine, decided all the girls needed to dance with a boy so she was setting up pairs left and right. After several of the boys learned how to spin and dip their partners, John S. called us all into a circle, we counted off, and left our second saturday night activity.

Making Friends, Making a Difference

Yesterday we all loaded up the four vans and headed over to Deep Creek Middle School to meet our buddies and learn about our community outreach projects. My buddy, Tallia, and I bonded over having the same birthday, July 18th.

Me and my Buddy
Community Outreach Buddies!

We went around to three stations to play games and get to know our buddy a little more. The first station a character or thing was put on our back without us seeing and we had to figure it out.

Meeting our Buddies

At the second station we played drama games like the mirror game where we had to make slow movements so the other can follow.

Playing games!

The third station was where we all got a map of the others country and showed them where we live and talked about the different activities in our towns.

One thing I learned was that my buddy was a Miami Heat fan so we had a little spat because the Celtics are clearly the best!

After going to all of the stations our buddies got into their groups and explained the service projects they came up with and were passionate about. Some of them were about stray dogs, child abuse, lack of food and cutting down the invasive Casaurina tree. Each ninth graders plans a project and gets the help of an eighth grader and a seventh grader.

Learning about our community outreach projects

After bonding with our buddies they had to get to advisory so the Island School students stood in a circle and went around saying what was the most special part of our time with our buddies. As hard as it was to leave we were excited to go on a trip to the beach!

Circling up outside of DCMS

By, Olivia Wigon