Greetings coming to you from the blue waters of The Bahamas. I've settled on Abaco Island for the past week and half, assisting in grad research for various projects including natural and artificial reefs, lionfish, ecological boundaries, and cassiopeia jellyfish. I am, once again humbled to be in such a place working alongside like-minded people and developing a new sense of being and existence. The ocean laps soothingly outside our steps and the breeze blows calmly through all openness that makes up our Abaco House. It is a privilege and an honor to be gaining such an experience, as I have said many times before.
Within the course of the weeks to come, projects will end and new ones will begin. The grad project that I am currently assisting with will be in its final stages, which involves the movement of lionfish amongst a handful of the thirty artificial and natural reef systems being monitored. The project has included lots of water time, initially pairing and categorizing each system by location, size, rigosity, depth, and neighboring reef proximity. The second stage of the project included reef fish identification, as the third stage has included capturing and relocating a specific number of lionfish (twenty, I believe) to reefs found not to currently harbor lionfish. Most of the project is done through freedive, but a fraction has been accomplished using scuba.
It's been nice to be back in the field, especially working on one of the most rigorous and laborious of the projects occurring here in Abaco. Though last week I tagged along on a different project involving cassiopeia jellyfish in the morning, while spending the afternoon snorkeling in Snake Cay to locate an underwater data transmitter, and to explore. Wednesday I will experience yet a different kind of project, and spend the rest of the afternoon checking out Bahamian blue holes.
The experience so far has been great and I am taking full advantage of picking the brains' of my fellow companions. I am also learning that my environmental principles have developed and changed with the times, and my conservationist theories and respect for a harmonious nature has only become stronger. Some of these projects include killing marine specimens in the name of science, and I suppose I am still tinkering with the idea of when I agree with these practices and when I do not. For example, one of the projects involves collecting cassiopeia jellyfish and dissecting their insides to analyze a symbiotic golden algae that can gauge the healthy levels of nutrients available from the ecosystems collected. The species isn't threatened and jellyfish (in general) are sometimes monikered "cockroaches of the sea" for their nuisance, but they are an essential component in the chain of life, as are all elements in nature.
As for the main project I am assistingag with, lionfish are collected from reefs and moved to new locations to observe their mobility. When the project is said and done, these lionfish will be captured again and killed at the beckon of biologist throughout the world based on their explosive invasiveness. The difficulties I am discovering is what is essential and necessary for the overall health of the environment, and I have determined that the analysis of a plentiful invertebrate species, where the killing of such species gains helpful insight on the health of an ecosystem can and will enhance our knowledge of what we know and learn about these species and their environments, but that mass killings on the basis of deterring a problem species we not only created, but cannot fix I find to be a little repulsive. And so, I often find myself in a continuous battle on whether I should even be consuming fish at this stage in my life. But these principles will only become more clear with more experience in the field, and a better understanding of what it is that I wish to accomplish in this line of work. But I will say that as of today, I have mentally prepared myself for my next future adventures and will be in the works of setting these ideas into motion in the very near future. Plans are already in the works and this year and the following will be spent on a clear path in hopes of leading me onto my next journey: The Outback. Cross your fingers.
"love like a sunset"