Thursday, March 22, 2007
A view from our boat as we travel through La Vena.
First off, if you're in my homeroom and you haven't turned in your report card slip by the time I get back you're going to have to do some serious explaining!!!!
Today was a pretty great day - we went snokeling, trying to inventory fish found along the rocky reef at a nearby beach. The morning started off with a lecture to help us understand the reef and the coral and fish that inhabit it. There were so many fish to try to learn! Luckily, we were able to bring laminated cards with the names and pictures of the most common fish into the water with us. Here are some neat facts about the reef: This reef is a rocky reef, that means that it is an igneous (everyone remembers what igneous means, right?) rock at the base, but that it has been colonized by coral. The reef is really important, just like the mangroves, in helping to protect the coastline from storms and hurricanes. The coral that lives on the reef is very sensitive to changes in the environment and so it's important to keep records of the reef and make sure that all the land development taking place down here isn't affecting the reef.
The beach. Do you think I should move into that bus?
After the lectures, we all piled into the van and drove to the beach. There were people living right on the beach. Check out the picture of the bus on the beach - someone lives there! I'm wondering if I should come back to Boston . . . We donned our snorkeling gear and took off. Right away, I saw tons of neat fish. Even though I had that handy id card, I could only identify the Scissortailed Damselfish. I think I was so excited about seeing all the fish, that I forgot to figure out what they were! The way that we were counting the fish was to set up transects along the reef. We had a yellow line that we put down along the bottom of the reef (about 15 feet from the surface) and then two people swam along either side of this line, counting the fish that they could see. We did this twice in the same spot. It was hard (and I actually didn't do the counting) because you had to remember not just how many fish you saw, but what types of fish they were.
The teachers on the beach.
After looking for all the fish, we ate lunch on the beach and then headed back to the van. Next we went to La Vena, a channel cut through the mangroves that leads to the sea. I found out that the fishermen take this channel each day to go to work - nice commute! We took a tour of the channel - it was beautiful, I took lots of pictures of the mangroves for you. They were red mangroves and had long prop roots, check out the pictures! I also saw some prop roots with oysters attached (see pic), so you guys were right, I did see them - great work!
The red mangroves in La Vena.
Me in La Vena.
The oysters stuck in the prop roots.
Now to answer some questions:
Ms. Torigian, we weren't looking for any particular type of fish, we just wanted to see what sort of fish were around the reef. It turned out that there were lots!
Victor, the biggest crocodile here is 18 feet long. They can be bigger or smaller than that. I'm not anxious to see any of them up close, though.
Fei Fei, I wanted to participate in this expedition because I was really interested to see all of the species that live in the mangroves and to learn about all the interactions in this ecosystem. It's really interesting to me to learn about cycles and processes (I bet all my students already know that those are some of my favorite things!) and I love to learn how everything is connected.
Everyone, the red mangroves get up to 40 meters (131 feet). Yikes - that's really tall! I couldn't get an answer on the white mangroves, but I will find out.
Matt, I have not seen any mudskippers. Those actually aren't found here, they're way more common in Southeast Asia. Maybe I will have to go on another Earthwatch trip . . .
Alex, the leaves of the red mangrove are waxy and smooth. The leaves of the white mangrove are sort of salty because they excrete salt since they live in salt water.
Julianne (r.k.), I am sharing a cute little room with Mrs. Perkins. I will try to post a picture of it. We're actually pretty lucky because our room has walls and a door - some of the other teachers don't have either!
Amanda, the most common bird we see here is the Snowy Egret. I have to admit, though, my bird identifying skills are almost as bad as my fish identifying skills.
Follow up from yesterday: I asked about the geology of this area. It is partly igneous and partly metamorphic. Sedimentary rock is not very common here at all. Now that you have all been studying the rock cycle, do you think that this area will have lots of sedimentary rocks in the future?
Sunset in La Manzanilla.
p.s. Did you guys know that if you click on the pictures, they get bigger?