There’s nothing like the feeling of being done with exams – which I now have been for several delightful days. So here I am on my tropical island, no more classes, and two weeks until I go home to DC; clearly, all I’m doing with my life right now is tanning and swimming in the clear, warm, turquoise ocean, right?
Actually, right now I’m sitting in my room wearing a fleece jacket and looking through the window to grey, Tacoma-esque skies. I just got back from a snorkel at a site called the South End of Long Cay, and for some reason the elements never cooperate when we go there. Last time, there was a huge current; today, it bucketed rain. But hey, an eagle ray swam right next to us, so there’s that.
Lectures are over, but we’re still collecting data for our directed research (DR) projects (thus the necessity of the stormy snorkel). Our papers are due a week from tomorrow, which is an absolutely terrifying thought, and then we spend a few days presenting our research to the community and the rest of the Center. And then we return to the world of normal winter (as opposed to winter here, which means sleeping under a sheet and without a fan on).
But before that, we have to get these papers written. It’s already looming over my head, and we haven’t even finished collecting data – and then there’s the analysis of said data. I’ll be creating a management plan based off of my group’s findings regarding the abundance of the invasive lionfish Pterois volitans, which basically means that I’m acting as a middleman between the scientists and the policy-makers, synthesizing and interpreting our results to suggest methods for controlling the lionfish invasion. Think about it as a report for a government environmental agency, giving them scientific knowledge in a way that gives them a basis for creating policy – because may be what it turns out to be. Fun things can happen when you’re at a prestigious field station in a small island nation.