Early Morning: Float the Cut!
Have you ever greeted the dawn with a sunrise float down a gently meandering channel, surrounded by friends and spiny urchins, doing all you can to grab the rocky shore before getting swept out to sea? We did.
Time again to switch adventures, so yesterday’s mangrove group went to the coral reef. Stunning. Today’s highlights included three stingrays, a puffer fish, bright purple coral, a parrot fish, and spiny lobster.
Beautiful fish, corals, and a spiny lobster!
Pro snorkelers and our beach-side classroom.
The alternate contingent had its chance to trek through a turquoise channel to a mangrove island, where we looked deep into the underwater roots and found schools of fish numbering in what must have been the zillions. We also witnessed what may have been sea cucumber poop, unless it was a deserted stingray shelter or maybe just a pile of sand that looked like an anthill.
Another sunny classroom, this time in the mangrove islands
Hands on science!
After lunch, we broke into four teams for an in-depth tour of the facilities:
At the aquaponics system at CEI, tilapia are raised for eating, and the nutrient rich water from their tanks is continuously pumped into an aquaculture system to grow lettuces, herbs, and kale. In the garden, the kids picked basil for pesto sauce and mint for tea for tomorrow’s lunch. At the fish tanks, the students tested the water quality and fed the tilapia.
All of the energy at the compound is generated by either the wind or the sun. We learned a bit about how solar energy works, then kids had a chance to wire a solar panel to power lights. The hardest part was getting the wires to stay in the charge controller.
All the vehicles at the compound run on biodiesel. Samuel taught us how the excess vegetable oil donated by cruise ships across the island is converted into fuel to run the fleet. We learned how the byproducts from biodiesel production can be used for fertilizing the garden, powering stoves in the kitchen, and making soap. When your child gets off the plane, ask him or her to define “transesterification.” In the pictures below, students are getting a tour of the facility and attempting to make a one-liter batch of biodiesel.
A lot of the food we’ve enjoyed this week is grown right here. In the farm section of the tour, we saw the gardens and barnyard and had a chance to work the compost heap a bit. It’s not as complicated as biodiesel, but wow! We learned a few things.
Another highlight: lasagna and homemade bread for dinner!
Crabs and Night Herons
The last episode of the day was another flip from yesterday with one group going crabbing and the other wading off into the night. The crabbers found one fewer crab than last night’s group, but the waders found all kinds of stuff: a night heron, a sucker fish, several needle fish, and lots of juvenile crabs on the shoreline.
It’s 10:19 and the dorms are silent but for the sound of waves lapping the shore just a few feet away.