4th year at Hawk's Cay -- 35th year of Marine Bio
The 32 hour trip was rather uneventful. We were greeted by wonderfully warm sunny weather as we stepped off of the bus on Duck Key. Many hands made light the work of unloading the buses. People worked behind the scenes distributing food, setting up the tent, launching the boat, preparing for lectures, and getting ready for a busy week. After supper, we had some time for play and relaxation.
Saturday morning Carl introduced the week and outlined the expectations. After the meeting, Eberly and Cooper gave snorkeling lessons in the lagoon by the conference center. Other began studying and had some time to relax before leaving for Key West around 3 pm.
By Sunday afternoon the students had visited at least one of the habitats that they must study. They are the mangroves, grassy mud flats, rocky coast, coral reef, the channels, and the quarry. For the most part students seem to be keeping up on the demanding amount of work and seem healthy. There have been a few coughs here and there, but with doctors in the group and attentive parents and teachers watching for signs of illness or fatigue, the students seem to be eating, sleeping and generally doing well.
Sunday evening's night fishing trip was unlike other years. We felt a little like the S.S. Minnow as we set out around 8:00 pm for a 4 hour tour. A rain storm blew in and torrential sheets of water poured down from the sky as the boat made its way to the first fishing hotspot.. Fortunately the waves did not match the intensity of the rain. Amazingly, no one was overly sea sick and we pulled in quite a few fish. We were all soaked and a bit chilled. The breeze was just warm enough so we weren't shivering constantly, but everthing we wore was pretty well drenched most of the night. Warm showers and soft beds were greatly appreciated when we returned.
Monday began with morning seminars and excursions to the habitats. One of the groups is going to Pennekamp State Park to snorkel the reef today. We had so many signed up for going Wednesday that this trip was quickly planned to make sure everyone could go. After lunch we will go to Sombrero Beach which has a bit of coral reef and rocky coast habitat as well as opportunity for community building and recreation. We will have a cookout in a pavillion on the beach. In the evening students will continue with research and some do some nocturnal specimen collecting on the rocky coast.
Tuesday excursions, research and book work are in full swing. The weather is holding although we did have occassional sprinkles thoughout the day. The specimen tanks are rich with marine plants and animals.