Jan Plan: Cooper’s Island

If the Bermuda triangle is caused by aliens then I commend them on their excellent taste in islands on earth.

Friday the 13th was a picturesque sub-tropical day that began with a mini-lecture on the Bermuda Triangle. While it was acknowledged that this stretch of ocean has only an average amount of disappearances, it was still amusing to learn of the conspiracy theories. Not to mention the fact that keeping the lore alive contributes to the tourism industry of Bermuda, and plays an important part in entertainment around the world.

Despite it being an infamous day in an infamous stretch of sea, the only mishap was a mistake in scheduling our morning lecture. Instead we took the time to set up a controlled experiment on a set of ten tiles. These ceramic squares had been stacked in pairs and left on a reef for a few years before being retrieved. Now encrusted with algae, sponges, and various other colorful organisms tended by three thumb-sized crabs, we placed them in individual tanks to test the effect of rising temperatures on reef growth. Five are within heated water, while five others are kept at the ‘normal’ temperature. We will observe these tiles for the next five days.

After a morning of being up to my elbows in a saltwater tank, it was time to dive (or rather walk) into the bays at Cooper’s island. While I’ll never get the sand out of my wetsuit, and I apologize to BIOS for the state of the floor in my room, this was a truly beautiful site. Above water it was gray cliffs with palms and white beaches framed between grasses and water that certain shade of blue they can’t capture in paint. Underwater unfortunately didn’t quite compare. The reefs were located at the far entrance of the cove, and while there were plenty of parrot fish, there was very little coral. Mostly it was enough sand to cause Anakin Skywalker to pull a Kylo Ren temper tantrum.

Having collected our data, a small group of us walked back to another bay to try and find sea turtles. We’d seen one from the bus searching the bay for sea-grass, and it wasn’t long before we saw something dark floating just beneath the surface. Cautiously we crept forward, hoping to get close enough for pictures without scaring it away. The small patch of floating algae we’d seen didn’t swim away at all, and we had to abandon the search and head back without a turtle encounter. Though if anyone asks, we definitely came across a huge one.

– Amy Kopec, Colby College Junior

Jan Plan: Cooper’s Island