A Great Day In Dominica

Today was another amazing day. First we started out with a bit of snorkeling. I saw some species that I have not seen yet on our trip but, was unable to get any pictures of them. I saw a spotted drum, a pair of French angelfish, a blackbar soldierfish, a princess parrotfish, and a stoplight parrotfish. I found several different schools of fish that I pretended to join as they swam away from me. The school of brown chromis was the most excepting of me allowing me to get within a chromis body length of them. We continued to a plantation where we were given a history lesson about the plantation. The only standing windmill on the island is located here.

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When we got back to ITME I was able to play basketball with some of the people in the area. This was the second time I got to do this. The competition was very good and provided for a lot of excitement. This was a great experience for me to see the culture of Dominica up close and in person. I had some stimulating conversations about what people do for recreation on the island. This was also a good chance for me to make some friends in basketball. Tomorrow will be another fantastic day in Dominica.

Day 6- Snorkeling the Atlantic

This morning we went to Calibishie, which is on the northeastern side of the island, to snorkel the Atlantic Ocean.  This was the first time we had snorkeled the Atlantic.  It was definitely different from the Caribbean Sea.  It was a fairly nice day with not too much wind and the waves were still strong.  When you first stepped in the water there were sea grass beds that led out to the coral reef.  The two most common types of sea grass are turtle grass and manatee grass.  Sea grass beds provide nutrients for the coral reefs.  When I was swimming through the sea grass it was only a foot deep and I saw a sea anemone with a tiny crab climbing on.  The reef was amazing.  It started out in a foot of water and went out to 20 plus feet.  There were trenches and caves where fish were hiding.  Damien said that there has to be a shark out there in the one the caves but he has never seen one.  I was hoping today would the be the lucky and we would see one.  Unfourtunately we didn’t get to see jaws or his brother–maybe next time.  I saw lots of cool fish today.  The best fish I saw was the squirrelfish.  He was huge, about 16 inches long and had huge black eyes.  I tried to take a picture of him but he swam back into his hole.  I swam down and could see him sitting in there and stairing at me.  I also saw a princess parrotfish and a yellowtail parrotfish.  They were really big too.  I saw lots of cute redlip blennys hiding in the sand and poking their heads out of brain coral.  The coral reef had massive damage done to it.  The sea fans were torn and ripped off the sedement is was attached to.  The reef contained lots of elkhorn coral skeletons because they were dead from disease and coral bleaching.  Sascha said that it is very raw to find a living elkhorn coral.  It is depressing to hear that because they are a very unique and beautiful coral.  The coral that was alive provided an amazing structure for this reef.  It provides a home for hundreds of damselfish and butterfly fish.  When we were done Sascha and Damien had asked up to gather samples of seaweed and algae.  We idendified them to be white scroll alga, serrated strap alga, green grape alga and other red and brown algea.  The snorkeling was very tiring because you had to fight the waves but it was amazing and deffently worth doing!

Northeast Dominica

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Today we spent our first day over on the East side of the island. This is the Atlantic coast, and is the windward side of the island so it was much windier and had large waves. It also has some very interesting reef structures, such as fringing reefs. We first went snorkeling just south of the town of Calibishie. There was a not so friendly yet very photogenic young bull near where we were snorkeling, he posed nicely for some photos.

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After that we continued a little further south to Woodford hill beach. There were tons of kids all around some in their underwear and some even naked playing cricket, wrestling, swimming, and everything in between.

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Sascha and Demian were very surprised to see this much activity because usually the beach is empty. This week because of Palm Sunday and Easter the schools spend most of the days on “field trips”, such as this one to the beach. Either way it was cool to see all the kids, and we got to talk to and play with some of them, and Karen even let them bury her.

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Brian, Kate, Demian and I walked aways down the beach to a point of rock where we got in and began snorkeling. There was a huge reef structure in the middle the water. It had cliffs on all sides of it, and they were covered with beautiful corals, and zooanthids. It was really incredible, it would have been even more incredible had we had been permitted to use scuba equipment that would have allowed us access to the rest of the cliff, but apparently the school won’t allow us to use scuba equipment for whatever reason. I got some very nice closeup photos of the corals.

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Snorkeling Is Fun

We went snorkeling in Douglas Bay today. This was the first snorkeling occurrence of our trip. Douglas Bay is on the north side of the island close to Portsmouth. Today’s excursion took us just over one kilometer. For several people this was their first experience with snorkeling and proved to be very exciting and sometimes challenging.

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We enjoyed seeing some of the organisms that we have studied all semester. Some of these include the long-spined urchin,dscf2822.jpg

blunt-spined brittle stars,

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and many coral varieties.  We all had an amazing time and look forward to our next experience.dscf2853.jpg

Coral Reef Habitat of Dominica

Dominica Coral Reef courtesy of ITMA

Dominica has several different coral reef type habitats surrounding the island. Each type of habitat has its own specific species that call it home. The true coral reef habits surrounding the island include “Fringing Reefs” in shallow water, “Fringing Reefs” in deep water, and Oligospecific Coral Assemblages which have only a few dominating coral species. Other habitats that aren’t classified as “true coral reefs” include “unconsolidated rocks”, “consolidated rocks”, and “sea grass beds”. Each of these habitats is unique in its own right, complete with its own species and bottom type. Pictures and more details of each type of habitat can be read about on ITME’s website. Photo courtesy of ITME.