Jan Plan: John Smith’s Bay

This morning (Saturday) we learned of the importance of Mangroves as habitats and barriers. So many animals begin life in a mangrove forest, and they also play a role in preventing erosion and shielding the coastline. Then with the last of the morning sunlight, we took a public bus to the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo. This sprawling complex combines most of a normal city’s educational attractions into one field trip. The tiny aquarium contained several fish and corals we’d seen in the field with the added bonus that they didn’t immediately dart away from us. Next door the Natural History Museum talked of the island’s past and ecosystems, and the zoo surrounding had everything from tortoises to Tamarins. I think there were enough flamingos there to make enthusiasts of cheesy plastic lawn ornaments hyperventilate.

After missing the first bus home, we scrambled to get out gear together then set off to John Smith’s Bay. Under a cloudy and drizzling sky we were greeted by more sand, though this time it was pink. Thankfully the grassy park beside the beach allowed me to minimize the amount of sediment I tracked home. And while it didn’t look like much from the surface, the reefs in the bay were incredible. Beneath the waves were countless ridges and ledges covered in soft and hard corals. Instead of collecting our usual data we held a competition between the groups to get as many pictures of different taxa that we could. Not being a professional photographer, most of my photos are blurry, but I did get a good shot of a blue tang, and another of a stoplight parrotfish.

Finally we gathered after dinner for a lecture on the changing baseline of coral reef systems. Despite the abundance of corals I saw today, the reefs here in Bermuda are far from pristine– as the sheer amount of trash littering the bottom can attest to. They are beautiful, but not outside the impact of humans and need to not just be conserved, but returned to their original abundance.

Similarly, I’m hoping my weight belt will be returned to me. Otherwise I’ll have to add it to the list of Bermuda Triangle disappearances. Perhaps the cat walked off with it…

– Amy Kopec, Colby College Junior

Jan Plan: John Smith’s Bay