This could be paradise…

The past couple of days have felt like living in our own little world of thunder and lots and lots of rain. The weather took a turn for the worst last week which meant scrambling to dinner pretty much involved needing our fins and snorkel. Because of this it sadly meant our activities had to come to a standstill and so in the morning we had lectures and group presentations. In the evening some of us decided to do a bit of mist netting and on the way there we were all so captured by the fireflies in the beginning of sunset. Due to the weather we only caught one bird, a Greater Antillean bullfinch which after me holding it decided it wanted a good peck at me – not to my delight. We returned to campus in mighty gale force winds and during our evening meal the lights and power went out! Trying to eat in the pitch black was a tough but entertaining task for everyone, with some of us being very avid lightning watchers.

We woke up to everyone’s swimming gear and towels in bushes miles from where they’d put them – apparently the storm we had suffered was the worst the institute had seen for a long time! However thankfully we had woken up to full sun much to everyone’s delight and me and my team were off to look at some mangroves. We cycled to the glorious beach and took in the beautiful scenery surrounding us as we then walked the rest of the way up to the mangrove area. Swimming up the creak was a big effort for many of us and only a few species were seen. On the way back down we flew with the current everyone laughing and completely forgetting about the science aim of the trip, however this time we saw many more fish such as puffer fish and a baby barracuda!

Learning about the mangroves with team Coral. Photo took by Ellen Whitby.

After a quick lunch (and a brief visit from an adult boa constrictor), it was my teams turn to learn about coral reefs. Within minutes of getting to the water a spotted eagle ray swam right past us, it was such a magnificent creature. We swam around an area made of reef balls which were brimming with wildlife; we saw Angelfish, Nassau grouper and a Spiny lobster. Not long after this a giant southern stingray appeared out of nowhere causing me to knock into everyone behind me. I couldn’t keep hold of my camera I was so taken aback by it and its sheer size. Then soon realising these things can actually be pretty dangerous we carried on after taking various photos. For me this was such an amazing animal to see, I was able to be so close to one and of such scope, it really blew me away.

On Saturday everyone was up early and ready to go because today was our day off, (not that it doesn’t feel like that every day anyway). The weather was glorious and our first stop of the trip was Lighthouse Beach, we were raring to go! The car journey there consisted of many cramped and sweaty people, not forgetting the 45 minute walk extra to the beach. But oh was it worth it. We arrived and were in absolute awe of the stunning scenery around us. The sand was bright white and the sea was clear glass blue, it was picture perfect. We all ran straight into the sea, enjoying the stress free time to enjoy ourselves. Many of us snorkelled around the reef which had an incredible range of colourful fish, I got so carried away by it all that everyone had wondered where I’d gone! I could have stayed in there for hours.

Lighthouse Beach. Photo took by Ellen Whitby.

A few hours later we had to leave, meaning many of us were squeezing in those last minute photos and selfies, but even they didn’t do the place justice – it really was paradise. We sped off to our next stop which consisted of bat caves and tree roots growing into these caves and crevices, their form was amazing. As true zoologists we also spent quite a good length of time looking under rocks and taming out many spiders (albeit not so much the dream for many).

To finish off our truly amazing day which we were all so grateful for, we had dinner in a small beach restaurant overlooking out on to the sea views. Everyone was smiling and reminiscing already about the day we had had. A few of us tried the chefs fruit punch meaning the car journey back involved the whole group singing along in harmony (maybe not quite) to cheesy pop tunes. We finished the day watching the stars on the beach – I couldn’t have imagined a better day in paradise.

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Evening meal in a restaurant looking out to sea. Photo took by Ellen Whitby.

And this enjoyment was to continue, with everyone looking forward to three days full of lionfish, sharks and rays. We couldn’t wait to begin.

eew204    January 12th, 2016    Bahamas archive