Wren ’14 Realizes Impact of Immersion

Luke Wren ’14 –  What a day! Today was the last full day here on South Water Caye. I think everyone is pretty sad we have to leave tomorrow morning. This morning started out with a boat ride to Man-o-War Caye, which was a very small island whose only inhabitants were a large population of frigate birds. It is the tail end of their mating season so many males had their bright red pouches inflated, trying to attract females.

After a quick visit here, we stopped and snorkeled over a sinkhole. The hole wasn’t extremely deep, but my ears were thankful I didn’t go to the bottom. We did see some rather large starfish, and a couple of large stingray resting at the bottom. One of our guides, named Ishmael, would swim to the bottom and pick up conch shells. This was a rather impressive feat. After this, we snorkeled the west side of the barrier reef near Tobacco Caye, a near by island. The weather was perfect for a relaxing and fun snorkel.

The water was calm, the tide was weak, and the sun was bright. This allowed for clear water and the reef to be illuminated, showing off the bright colors of the underwater world we surveyed. After this snorkel our pre lunch day was over, and we went back to the island we called home to eat and finish our research projects. Lunch was of course terrific, and started like every meal with a cook coming out and with her high-pitched Belizean accented voice would say, “Excuse me, lunch is ready”. This was the gunshot that started the race to the food. I am proud to say there were no injuries in the dining area, and no quarrels broke out amongst the Wabash Men. I do believe I saw a sigh of relief of the cooks face when she realized this was our third to last meal on the island. I think they were happy to see us go, since we probably tested their culinary skills, by inhaling delicious item after item.

After lunch we had free time to finish up and organize our research information, which were the presented before and after dinner. These presentations turned out very well, and there was a wide variety of invertebrate biology covered. We learned everything from geographical and speciation data of snails, and sea urchins to how to discover fuzzy chitons in relative depths of seawater. After the presentations most people packed for tomorrows journey, and then headed down to the dock and bar to spend one last night with the workers. Everyone on the island was friendly and had a great sense of humor. That is one thing they cannot teach in the classroom, the cultural knowledge and anecdotes provided by the locals. I learned as much from them as I learned about biology, and coral reef habitats. I will remember many things from this trip, including what not to touch on a coral reef snorkel, but I think that with every immersion trip comes a different type of knowledge. I can sit and read about Belize or coral reefs in a book, but I cannot experience these things without seeing them first hand and interacting with the people who live there.

This was a fantastic trip and I, for one, don’t quite want to travel back to fine city of Crawfordsville just yet. Maybe God is looking down on us and will send a (small) storm, which will “force” us to stay in paradise just a little longer.