Thursday, August 14, 2008

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.

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