05 June 2019

Rays, Reefs and Riddles

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Monday night ended with Spoons and riddles, but that fun didn’t compare to the amazing adventure of the day. We began the day with a simple competition, but with this group, well, let’s just say it got a little heated (but still fun!). We searched for answers at the Bimini Museum and visited the Straw Market. We had an early lunch because the boat was departing at 1300 – for sharks! Nicole hooked us up with a Bluetooth speaker, which set the mood for the day as we cruised through (slightly) choppy seas to our first destination: Honeymoon Harbor at Gun Cay. It was a stunning view and we popped on “Baby Shark” only to learn that this was a bonus stop to see southern stingrays. Some of us felt a pang of disappointment, but then found out that we got to feed and touch them, which made us excited to jump in and interact with these smooth creatures. We were feeding the rays and suddenly, some great white – we mean, nurse – sharks came cruising through. Most of us were tentative at first and how the rays took the shrimp from our hands was unexpected. They really have no need for personal space, swimming up behind us, through our legs and right up to our shoulders and faces. Maybe they needed a snuggle! The rays’ skin was super soft, compared to the nurse sharks which felt like sandpaper. The nurse sharks’ eyes were weird; it almost made them look scarier than shark species #2….

Snacking through our cruise to the main attraction, we arrived at “Blood Rocks” – just kidding! It’s called Triangle Rocks. Caribbean reef sharks at this site have been feed for decades, so as soon as the boat pulled up, we could see the sharks circling, investigating if this boat would give them a snack. Though we were told the safety rules before the boat departed, we were reminded of them and shown exactly where and how to swim. At first, when we got in, we were nervous, swimming on top of each other (safety in numbers!), but as the swim continued, we got more and more comfortable. The stingray experience warmed us up for sure…

We noticed one shark with a tag and another had a hook and line on it. There were dozens of chubs swimming around, stealing the bait. Four spotted eagle rays even cruised through. They were so majestic, cruising through seemingly effortlessly. It conjured up images of the teacher in Finding Dory – and we are impressed with how the animation captures the real-life creature! After we all had a good swim, Captain Al threw a little bit of bait in, bringing the sharks to the surface and giving us a different view. The crew kept some bait aside and once we were on the boat, we gathered to watch how the feeding looks from the surface.

Back at the Sea Crest, we went over our museum questions and were highly competitive. For the first time in DCP history, there was a tie – but everyone shared the prize: Ms. Stefie’s banana bread! We then carried dinner supplies down to the marina for the mid-course BBQ. After dinner, Abbie taught us all some good camp-style riddles. Let’s just say some of us took it more seriously than others! Good group bonding before bed.

Until next time,

The Conch-erers (SHU 2019)

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

Kel is DCP's Bimini Research Manager, and all around awesome scientist.

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