Class field trip to Lime Cay – Coral ID!

Blog posts and photos of field trip to Lime Cay with Caribbean Coral Reef class 2014

Suzanne Palmer – Over the past few weeks I have been taking out my final year undergraduate class to Lime Cay where they have been putting all their theory and lab skills into practice in identifying corals to species level and using coral monitoring techniques to collect quantitative data. For some, being out to sea snorkeling all day and learning to duck dive has been a very new and challenging experience. In trying to capture and share some of the students experiences I have collected a few blog posts and podcasts from the various trips. Check out all ~50 photos at bottom of page (click to enlarge). Podcasts coming soon!

Below are some of the blog posts from students after their first field trip to Lime Cay: the first two are from students who went out on the first trip when we had perfect snorkeling weather, the last post is from a student who went out on the 2nd trip when the weather was not quite so perfect!

Scientist in the making – Ashley Codner

“The first Coral Reef field exercise to Lime Cay was fun and informative. The trip put into perspective what we learned in the classroom. The lecture became clearer and the information gathered from both experiences is now firmly cemented in my brain. My classmates and I are now coral experts! Pointing out corals we see on field excursions for other courses like we’ve been doing it for years. Swimming around the cay was a work-out! We all made it back in one piece. The trip was a success. A big Thank You to the staff at PRML for their supervision in the field. I’m looking forward to our next trip to Lime Cay. I have a few days to build up my endurance! ”

Opening my eyes to world of corals – Bianca Brown

“I had my very first snorkelling experience at Lime Cay almost exactly 8 years ago. Having experienced seeing fish in Turks and Caicos on a trip the year before, I had begged my parents to buy me a snorkel set and was eager to see the kind of fishes I could spot here in Jamaica. Going to Lime Cay last week for our Caribbean Coral Reefs practical brought back memories as vivid as the massive sunburn I received on my shoulders that day

I remember looking down into the water and seeing small brightly coloured fish and other fish I had never seen before. This included a particularly bright blue and yellow one that I kept referring to as “Dory” from Finding Nemo. I also remember following what I now know was a Lizardfish out into deeper waters where I glimpsed something more frightening – a Sunfish.  The only corals I could identify back then were fan and brain corals.

However, having learned more about coral reefs these past few weeks have made me regret not paying attention to the other various corals there the first time around. Now I can only try to imagine what they looked like 8 years ago since so much has changed since then. The highlights of this trip included seeing  and attempting to identify the various types of stony corals found around Lime Cay, seeing a shark for the first time in real life, no sunburn, and no fire coral or Diadema incidents. Thank you Dr. Palmer for opening my eyes to view coral reefs in a way I never did before.”

Rough weather = rather different experience! Chavelle K. Kassie

“Clear, blue skies and choppy waves marked the start of a long day at Lime Cay for BIOL3409 Lab stream 2. The skies were fairly clear, but the air was windy, which was an indicator of the rough waters that would greet us along the reefs. When we got to our destination, after what felt like decades, we were instructed as to how we should disembark. It was fun climbing over the sides of the boat in flippers and snorkeling masks. Not everyone was having a blast because soon enough someone started to freak out in the water and the life buoy had to be thrown out for support. The water was not very chilly, but the waves were crazy rough. They were able to lift us up and carry us from one to another far point. Each group seemed to stick together relatively well, but the water conditions made it rather difficult to attain as much information as was expected of us. We eventually made our way back to the boats.

We were then taken to the other side of the cay where the back reef was located. The water here was much calmer, shallower and clearer. The coral identification went well and soon enough it was time for lunch, after which we trekked back to the windward side of the island to the reef flat for more identification of corals.

The final task of the day was to practice duck diving. The demonstrators did a pretty good job explaining what was to be done as well as demonstrating the technique of duck diving. After a rather short session of attempting to get to the bottom of the water column, we then packed up and climbed aboard the boats. We made our way back to Port Royal laboratory fairly satisfied and not as exhausted as was anticipated.”