On Sunday, 16 students (plus Professor Steve Turnbull, PhD and a student returning as TA) from the University of New Brunswick Saint John (UNBSJ) arrived in Bimini. About half of us had just wrapped up our amazing week at the SharkLab. All limbs accounted for! And minds = blown. The weather wasn’t in our favor on day one, but our water taxi driver, Hyram, got us safely to North Bimini were we met with Kel and settled into our roomie-rooms at the Sea Crest with our freshwater showers! Shortly after, we welcomed the new seven who just arrived that morning. For those of us just arriving, we were pleasantly surprised at our smooth landing in Bimini as we were in just a 9 seat plane on a rainy day. That rain was blowing into our faces during the (thankfully) short water taxi ride from S. Bimini to N. Bimini. In fact, the plane ride was pretty short too! It was cool to see both shores of the island from our rooms! We all came together as a group and got an intro to DCP and their work in Bimini. We learned the ropes (aka rules/riot act) and met several local stray dogs. The locals (people) were fairly quite during the rain, but they are friendly and eager to say hello. The island is interesting, with so many blooming flowers, small stores, and even a Royal Bank of Canada. We worked around the challenging the weather by focusing on this introduction to the dolphins and learned first-hand the downfalls of field work – we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. In the evening, we watched a film and then went to bed.
We did not see the sun for the first two days, but we did see flooded streets – could we have snorkeled there? Luckily, the weather cleared enough on Monday so we were able to go snorkeling from the beach. The beach is covered in conch shells – we hadn’t imagined that! During our snorkel we headed to the Gallant Lady and were impressed with how many colorful fish we saw, just snorkeling the shoreline. Along the way saw southern stingrays, sergeant majors, doctorfish, mojara, bar jacks, French grunts, striped grunts, juvenile blue tangs, juvenile parrot fish, long-finned damsel fish, fairy basslet, blue headed wrasse…at least, those are the species IDs we came up with! We also noted some different behaviors – larger fish seemed to be more bold, whereas the very young and small fish were taking covering between the rocks. After snorkeling, we got a more detailed introduction to the dolphins – their anatomy, photo-identification and other topics. We ended Monday night with a yummy dinner and ice cream (after enjoying lots of Bimini bread)!
Stay tuned for more field reports from us,