Saturday, August 16, 2008

Last Ocean Day

The group visited the most beautiful spot for a snorkel/dive…West Bank Wall.
We enjoyed seeing large parrotfish, wrasses, angelfish, and schools of blue chromis and sergeant majors. The snorkelers had the chance to see mimicry in action, as a fish eating trumpetfish swam along in a school of herbivorous blue tangs. This trick worked well as the trumpetfish fooled a couple of damselfish that it eagerly gobbled up.

A turtle swam along with some of the snorkelers and several of the experienced snorkelers were thrilled to see a parrotfish with a bright yellow and black remora or shark sucker firmly attached to a male stoplight parrotfish. We watched in amazement as the parrotfish tried to shake the hitchhiker loose.

After our water day, the group headed into town to visit the iguana farm. The iguana farm has hundreds of iguanas that the owners feed and keep from ending up as meals. The group then helped out the economy of the island as they bought souvenirs and mementos of this wonderful week.

As the group headed back to Anthony’s Key Resort several of the teachers commented that this was an exceptional learning experience. They will take back more than pottery and coffee, they will take back the excitement of experiencing the ocean realm first hand and sharing it with students for years to come. The COSEE GL trip enabled many of them to have this wonderful professional development experience.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the reef from morning to night

The day started with a boat ride to the other side of the island where the snorkelers and divers got the rare treat of exploring the largest concentration of staghorn coral in the Caribbean. These branching corals get their common name from the resemblance to the antlers or horns on deer. The location, Smith’s bank, is in shallow water and the corals seem to form a woven matrix that is home to parrotfish, grunts, harlequin bass and trunkfish.

Afterwards, the participants headed by boat to Fins and Flipper key, a small island near the airport. There, the teachers enjoyed a picnic lunch, including conch chowder, a delicacy on the island. Following lunch, a local troupe of dancers and drummers shared some of the songs and dances that are part of the island culture.

Helen Domske shared Ocean Literacy principles and classroom ideas with the teachers. A quiz on fish identification made the educators really think about the names of the fishes that have been accompanying them on their snorkels and dives. As part of COSEE GL, the teachers learned how some Great Lakes fish have similar adaptations to those in the oceans. For example, bullhead catfish use their sensory barbels, or “whiskers” in the same way that goatfish do.

As evening drew near, the divers of the group headed to the boat for a night dive on the reef. As they entered the water, they saw the changes that take place from day to evening underwater. A large (12 diameter) king crab held its ground on the coral, while an octopus put on a show by changing color from green to brown to blue in just a matter of seconds. An amazing end to another incredible day of learning about the ocean!

Sonnet For Smith’s Bank, Roatan

In a world where our coral’s receding,
Where they lose tiny algae, essential
To their living and breathing and feeding,
We seem unaware of their potential.

For, the corals are home to so many
Of earth’s algae and fishes and creatures.
Where there used to be beauty aplenty,
Now huge patches of dead rock are featured.

But, Smith’s Bank is yet Paradise Jungle,
With huge staghorn, white tips of growth telling,
Far from land’s suffocation and bungle,
Rinsed and fed with Blue Ocean’s upwelling.

Oh, when will mankind ever learn not to be
Disrespectful of coral and life in the sea?

By Kathy Dole

A Day of Ocean Diversity

The day had participants learning about algae, fish and sharks. While three of the divers headed to the other side of the island to come face-to-face with black-tip reef sharks, the rest of the group heard a lecture on algae, followed by a dive/snorkel to collect some of these important single-celled organisms.

The diversity of Roatan is incredible, with the healthy reef ecosystem displaying colorful reef fish and corals of many shapes. The dive/snorkel included trumpetfish, that get their name from their slender bodies that end in a large, flexible mouth that when extended looks like the bell of a trumpet. Schools of grunt and surgeonfish patrolled the reef, while a beautiful black and white spotted drum showed the difference in coloration and markings between the adult and young.

The shark divers were enthralled by the antics of a group of sharks that were enticed by a bucket of bloody fish parts, known as chum. The sharks sniffed at the contents of the bucket and swam just inches above the divers’ heads. One of the teachers actually found 2 shark teeth in the sand, proof that these predators are constantly replacing teeth…a great adaptation that leaves a shark well prepared for its next meal.

The evening brought a cookout on the key, with crab races, fire dancers and lively island music. The diversity of the group, like that of the ocean inhabitants, makes this year’s adventure interesting and enjoyable.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dolphin Encounter

Who started this??????

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where is the reef going?

The morning started with a lecture from Education Coordinator, Jennifer Keck, who has been conducting research on reef diversity since 1996. She provided insight into changes taking place on the reefs around Roatan. Some of the damage has come from El Nino events and hurricanes that hit this small island. Over a 12 year timeframe, Keck has seen changes in the amount of corals covering the reef, as well as the species of corals found.

Afterwards, the group headed to Wayne’s place for a dive/snorkel. The teachers saw large groupers and colorful reef fishes. The divers threaded their way through a coral maze, filled with a number of swim-through tunnels, while the snorkelers kept watch above. One of the snorkelers commented that it was fun trying to catch the divers exhaled bubbles as they headed to the surface.

In the afternoon the group headed to Man-o-War Key to view the extensive mangrove islands that provides habitat to many types of animals. The group also snorkeled along a beautiful back reef area where many saw a 5’ nurse shark resting under a coral ledge. After collecting algae, the group headed back to the lab to pick through small inhabitants, including crabs, brittle sea stars, mantis shrimp and even a tiny octopus. This hands-on learning experience really gave the educators a real lesson on the productivity and diversity of algae.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Under the sea….

Sunday morning started off with a lecture on fish identification followed by a snorkel/dive on the reef observing the fish that we learned about. It was an exciting day for the teachers who made their first dive in the ocean after taking scuba lessons in the Great Lakes. Colleen Kelley (pictured) was in awe of the beauty and the colors of the reef. Her first dives today will be remembered for years to come.

After a lecture on invertebrates, the afternoon dive/snorkel introduced teachers to many of the animals covered in the class. The divers came face to face with nine squid that came within feet of the curious educators. Some actually “inked” when the divers got a little too close for comfort. These cephalopods, or head-footed mollusks, are able to change colors in an instant, putting on quite a show for the educators.

As the divers entered the water, they saw several large black groupers (pictured) that followed along and kept a watchful eye on the educators. Groupers are a predator on the reef, but they posed no threat to the larger human visitors.

The snorkelers were greeted by a school of blue tangs, an interesting schooling reef fish that have small scalpel-like fins at the base of the tail that are used for protection. The large school (pictured) grazed along the reef as they picked on algae.

While the snorkelers floated above the reef, the divers had the chance to see a toadfish, a weird looking, secretive fish that made its home in a small hole in the reef. The toadfish (pictured) is not as attractive as many of the colorful reef fish, but its large mouth and eyes make it an interesting find on the dive.

As the divers headed off to the boat to meet up with the snorkelers, a yellow tail snapper (pictured) followed the group. These curious fish are easy to identify because of the colorful tail and bright stripe that give this fish its common name.

Welcome To Roatan!

The COSEE GL Tropical Marine Ecology group arrived on time and ready to roll. We were greeted by the friendly staff of Anthony's Key Resort and took a ride over the mountain to the north side of Roatan, to the place we will call home for the next 8 days. The island is lush and tropical, filled with banana and coconut trees, and flowers of every color.

Once we arived at the resort we heard the orientation and headed to our rooms to wait for the luggage. We were amazed at the pile of bags that our group of 18 created on the dock. Many of the bags had to go over to the small key (one of the 65 keys that ring Roatan - they are low sandy, coral based formations) in a small boat.

Some of the group that got their luggage and snorkel equipment were able to take advantage of a pre-dinner snorkel off Bailey's key, home to the islands 19 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. We snorkeled among turtle grass beds that had grunts, damselfish, wrasses, small parrotfish and different species of invertebrates.

After a delicious dinner, the group listened to a lecture on the Roatan Institute of Marine
Science, by Jennifer Keck. Then headed off to sleep. The first of many exciting days!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tomorrow --Roatan!!!

Hi Everyone,

Our flights depart at 7:15 AM. You should plan to be at the airport by 5:15 AM! You must have your Pass Port to get your boarding pass. Please check in at the ticket counter and be sure your bag tag's final destination is RTB, Roatan.

We are allowed two checked bags at 50 pounds maximum. If your bag is close to 50 pounds I recommend weighing it on the bathroom scale and leaving a few extra pounds for retuning additional purchases and scale error.

All liquids & gels in your carry on must be less than 3 oz. size and all be in a one quart clear zip bag. You will need to remove the zip bag at security and place it in a gray bin to pass through the x-ray machine.

Liquids & Gels larger than 3 oz must go in a checked bag. (I strongly recommend putting any liquid containers into a strong zip bag before packing in your checked bag in case they get crushed and leak.)

Remember to attach the AKR green tags to all your bags, carry-on too. These will be used by the AKR Staff to collect your bags at the Roatan Airport and deliver them to your room. The red, green & yellow yarns in your pre-trip pack are also helpful identifiers -especially on the return trip in Atlanta. I will have extras if you need them -see me at the airport!

Divers --don't forget to pack those c-cards!

And if you were looking for a hurricane next week it seems you will likely be disappointed! The Caribbean and waters to the east are remarkably quiet for August! Roatan has been getting some showers so be sure you have some insect repellent and anti itch meds!

Monday, July 28, 2008

12 Days to Travel!

Hi all,

Wow! Only 12 days until our Roatan adventure!

CHLOROQUINE: Just a quick reminder about Chloroquine. If you have decided to take this malaria prevention medication you should take the first dose this Saturday (Saturday, August 2). It should be taken with food and an occasional side effect is an upset stomach. We plan to take ours Saturday evening.... and then again next Saturday (August 9) in Roatan!

BLOG: Be sure to check out the links at the left. We will plan to post to this BLOG each day from Roatan so send the address to your friends & Family.

AIRPORT INFO: Plan to be at the airport two hours prior to departure. I plan to be there by 5:15 AM. The airline agent will need to see your passport and you may not be able to use a kiosk for check-in since this is international travel. Please be sure that the checked bag labels have “RTB” (Roatan airport code) as the final destination. Sky Caps cannot check your bags to the final destination. Remember that there is a weight limit of 50 pounds for checked bags and 40 pounds for carry-ons. (One checked bag at 55 pounds will cost you extra but two checked bags [say 25 & 30 pounds] are fine!) You may want to check out possible airport car pooling to share the parking expense. A list of participants with phone numbers was in the pre-trip packet -call if you need one.

GROUP SHIRT: We will plan to all wear the group shirt for our return trip. Feel free to wear it on the way to Roatan as well if you want to but any hand laundering will be your responsibility (if needed)!

WEATHER: The surface water temperature around Roatan is about 83°F or a little warmer. The daytime high air temperatures are reported around 88°F and nighttime lows 80°F. I think the seaside breezes will keep us pretty comfortable. --Don’t bother with a sweater unless you plan to use it in the airport! This week the Caribbean is very calm following a week of record setting storms! The BLOG has a few weather links to follow and I have added the Weather Underground Tropical site that has a great BLOG discussion on the right side.

CARRY-ON BAG: It’s always a good idea to plan as if your checked bags may take an extra day to arrive. I usually carry snorkeling & Mask and a swimsuit as well as a change of clothes and needed toiletries & prescriptions... You can also carry-on a personal item such as a camera or computer bag.

C-CARDS: Certified divers must have your C-card if you plan to dive.

BAG YARNS & TAGS: Please remember to put the red, green and yellow yarn on each of your bags. Let me know if you need more. AND be sure to put the green "AKR" tags on all your bags. The yarns help us to identify group bags and the AKR tags get your bags to the room without your effort!

The following books are available for loan over the summer and to take along on the trip if you have space and weight capacity. Most of these books are also available at RIMS.

The Peterson Guides by Kaplan give you a good description about each major phyla and each habitat we will visit. Gene Kaplain, biology professor at Hofstra University, directed the Marine Lab (HUML)in Jamaica and wrote these books as a course text for students visiting the lab.
Kaplan, E., Field Guide to Coral Reefs, Caribbean and Florida, 1982, Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, MA. (Peterson Field Guide #27) (ISBN: 0-395-46939-2)
Kaplan, E., Field Guide to Southeastern and Caribbean Seashores, 1988, Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, MA. (Peterson Field Guide #36) (ISBN: 0-395-46811-6)

Marty Snyderman is a well know marine life photographer. His book has great photos and has been described as the "who lives where" and "who eats who" guide.
Snyderman, Marty and Clay Wiseman, Marine Life, 1996, Aqua Quest Publications, New York, NY. (ISBN: 1-881652-06-8)

The best available Photo ID books for the Caribbean are the following. They are organized for ease of identifying things you see in the water and Humann's fish ID terminology has become the standard for field descriptions. All three books have recently come out in new editions. I have
Humann, Paul, Reef Fish Identification, 1994 (second edition), New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, FL. (ISBN: 1-878348-07-8)
Humann, Paul, Reef Creature Identification, 1992, New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, FL. (ISBN: 1-878348-01-9)
Humann, Paul, Reef Coral Identification, 1993, New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, FL. (ISBN: 1-878348-03-5)
Deloach, Ned and Paul Humann, Reef Fish Behavior: Florida Caribbean Bahamas, 1999, New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, FL. (ISBN: 1878348280)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

30 Days to Departure!!!

Hi Everyone! How time flies -only 30 more days until we depart for Roatan.

I have added two new links on the left. One is info that you may want to print out for your doctor regarding a prescription for Chloroquine. The other is a weather radar link.

Further down on the left side bar you will find additional educational links for Coral Reef Ecology -many have ready to use classroom activities.

Please feel free to call any time if you have questions...


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More photos from last week....

A few more photos from last week.... They include a Longsnout Seahorse displaying a reddish orange color. The Sea Turtle is a Hawksbill and the other fish are both Spotted Drums. The adult has the spots while the juvenile has a very long dorsal fin!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Few Photos from Roatan

Hi All,

We spent our Spring break at AKR and here is a sample of what we saw and hope to see again in August....

Photos include a Scarlet-Striped Cleaning Shrimp, Caribbean Reef Octopus, and an unidentified shrimp on an unidentified Goby? in a Brain Coral groove at night. An ideas as to ID? Click on the photo for a better view.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Participant Up Date #1

Greetings TME '08 Participants,

Thanks to those folks that traveled to Fredonia for the Info Meeting two weeks ago. We have had a great response to the trip this year and currently we have space for a single male participant. Some rearrangement of roommates may occur depending on preference for room type and the possibility of adding a 10th room. Please check your personal e-mail for details.

I will be sending out packets (BOCES or snail mail) from the Info Meeting to folks that were unable to attend. Please take a look and give me a call if you have any questions. Included will be a financial balance sheets.

Travel to Roatan, The Bay Islands, Honduras, Central America, requires you to have a valid US Passport. Expiration date must be February 16, 2009 or later. This is six months beyond our scheduled return date. If you need to apply or renew please begin the process immediately. Visit your local Post Office or download forms from the link at the left.

We will plan to meet as a group before we travel to discuss packing strategies, snorkel equipment & practice, sign waivers, and make final payments. Tentatively this Pre-Trip meeting is scheduled for Tuesday Evening, June 3, 2008 at 7:00 PM. I will be sending an e-mail for you to reply to with your plans to attend. Feel free to bring the family... We usually meet at our home. Map to follow.

The payment schedule for the trip will be as follows: $400.00 deposits were due last week! If you have not sent in a deposit please do this ASAP. I have printed accounting sheets and will be sending them by regular or BOCES mail sometime this week. Your account will need a $1000.00 balance by April 9, 2008. (This is $600 plus the $400 deposit) The Final Balance will be due by June 3, 2008, and will reflect any COSEE Scholarship award. All checks should be made payable to: Tropical Marine Ecology.

Travel insurance is available at an additional cost of $141 per person and I will need to hear from each of you regarding your choice to purchase or not purchase this option in the next e-mail. I would like to be able to add this to your Financial Sheet before I mail it out next week. Thanks.

I have attached a .pdf file of suggested locations if you need to purchase snorkeling equipment. If you can't open the file the included locations are Lake Erie Diving Center, 8542 Route 5, Angola, 549-3338; and Dip ‘N Dive, 500Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda, 837-3483. Any of the local Scuba Dive Centers should be able to assist in selecting gear. This is an item we will discuss at the pre-trip meeting.

A few questions came up about SCUBA Diving at the info meeting. If you are a certified diver there will be opportunities to dive at some of the scheduled snorkel sites. In addition, you may schedule dives with the dive shop during free time. The dive shop does offer a PADI Discover Diving course that would allow non-certified folks to experience SCUBA. Or, if you have completed a SCUBA course locally except for the required open water dives, these may be completed in Roatan if you take a referral letter from your local instructor. SCUBA rental and courses will incur an extra cost that will need to be paid to the resort at the end of the trip. Please call if you are interested in any of these options.

Please feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or concerns.

Garry W Dole
Science Resources Coordinator
Erie 2 - Chautauqua - Cattaraugus BOCES
10001 Route 60
Fredonia, NY 14063
FAX 716-679-3420

Friday, February 15, 2008


When: Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - From 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Where: Erie 2 BOCES, Science Center, 10001 Route 60, Fredonia, NY.

What: This workshop will be an introduction to Coral reefs, where they are located on the planet, the kinds of plants and animals that live there, how they live together and the challenges of global warming as well as appropriate activities for your classroom. Teachers attending this workshop will be eligible to borrow a multigrade Tropical Marine Ecology (TME) Materials Kit for use in their classroom. The kit includes a variety of books, video tapes, slides, tropical sand, coral skeletons, shells, and two stereo microscopes.

Workshop presenters will include past participants from our summer Tropical Marine Ecology Program; Helen Domske, Sea Grant Specialist and Garry Dole, Science Resources Coordinator. Many of the activities are thematic units that have been developed using materials from the TME Kit.

To Register: Teachers using science kits from Erie 2 BOCES please check with your building administrator after February 25, 2008. All others call the Science Center at 800-344-9611, x-2598.

Monday, February 11, 2008



DATES: August 9-16, 2008 (8 days) Travel arrangements from Buffalo, NY Airport.

ACCOMMODATIONS: The Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) and Anthony's Key Resort (See links at left); oceanfront facility, double occupancy cabanas with private bath (Key Standard rooms are not air conditined), air conditioned classroom, dolphin encounter, dive shop and more.

COSTS: $1839.00* for COSEE Scholars* (See funding possibilities below.) Cost includes room and meals, round trip airfare from Buffalo, NY, bus and boat fees, transfers, admissions, hotel and departure taxes, and all tips and gratuities. Tuition and souvenirs extra. School districts may financially support their teachers; see note below. Significant others welcome at the regular cost of $2339. (A limited number of air conditioned rooms are available as well as private rooms and trip insurance, for an addition fee. Please call for more information.)

GRADUATE CREDIT: OPTIONAL: Three hours of graduate credit are available from SUNY at Buffalo. Tuition costs are extra and must be paid directly to the University. Please call if interested.

EQUIPMENT: You will need snorkeling gear: mask, snorkel and fins. If you need to purchase equipment we will make recommendations and provide any necessary training before the trip.

CONTENT AREAS: Topics to be covered with presentations and field visits: the coral reef, including reef formation and ecology; reef fish; reef invertebrates; animal relationships; sandy beaches; tide pools; zonation at a rocky shore; mangroves; and turtle grass beds.

ADDITIONAL INFO: An informational meeting will be presented Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at the Science Resources Center, 10001 Route 60, Fredonia, NY at 7:00 PM. For directions or additional information please call Helen Domske, Sea Grant Resource Agent at (716) 645-2114 x2337 or Garry Dole, Science Resources Coordinator, Erie 2 BOCES at (716) 679-3419 or 800-344-9611 ext. 2598 (from 716 area code).

Funding Possibilities to explore....
* COSEE-GL will provide $500 scholarships for the first 10 eligible educators. (Trip cost of $1839 reflects the total cost after the scholarship is applied.) Please call for more information and a scholarship application.
Check out:

This is a Professional Development activity and may qualify for both local district funding and inservice course credit as required by the NYS Commissioner of Education.

Sponsors of this workshop reserve the right to limit group size and cancel due to insufficient numbers of participants. Cost is based on a minimum of twelve participants and current air fare prices. Participants must be able to demonstrate PADI snorkeling skills or be willing to wear a snorkel vest when in the water.

Please enroll me in the Tropical Marine Ecology Workshop. I am 21 or older.

Garry W. Dole
E2CC BOCES, Science Resources
10001 Route 60
Fredonia, NY 14063

NAME _________________________________
HOME ADDRESS ________________________
CITY / STATE / ZIP ______________________
HOME PHONE __________________________
e-mail _________________________________
Educators please complete:
SCHOOL ___________________GRADE_______
SCHOOL ADDRESS _______________________
CITY / STATE / ZIP ______________________
√if you want an application for Graduate Credit.___
Please include a $400.00 deposit payable to
Tropical Marine Ecology and return by March 11, '08

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Trip Information

Trip Dates: August 9-16, 2008

Trip info including the cost will be posted soon. Please check back.
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology
Tropical Marine Ecology