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Chasing the Elusive Hawksbill

Jan 17, 2011


Location: Mountain Point, Virgin Gorda
Author: James Shelton
Morning began the same as usual. The crew awoke around 7:15 and had crepes for breakfast, followed by the routine clean-up. Afterwards we amassed in the salon for a slideshow depicting all of the various invertebrates that can be found within the Caribbean waters. While we were busy studying about the many different types of creatures, Jack and Kris set out to rent two small sailing vessels known as Hobie Cats. The objective was to use the skills we had learned yesterday about tacking and jibing a sailboat with these smaller yachts. While most of the students were busy with testing out the boats I took a trip with Stephanie on a provision run into Leverick Bay. Upon returning we ate lunch as scheduled, grilled cheese being on the menu for today. Following lunch clean-up we rolled up the tarp, pulled up the anchor, and set off for Mountain Point. Once we were anchored the students dawned their masks, snorkels, and fins and hopped into the two dinghies of Ocean Star in hopes of hunting down an elusive sea turtle. The plan was to be towed behind the dinghies along a tow rope until a turtle, either a hawksbill or a green sea turtle, was found. After a few attempts and circling around the coral reefs with the students in tow, a hawksbill sea turtle was spotted. Everyone then joined in the chase, which sent them swimming all over the reef. Finally, after minutes of chasing, the turtle was caught by Ryan. We placed the turtle in the dinghy and the students hopped in as well, and we then headed back to the Ocean Star to have it tagged. Jack gave an overview of how the turtle was supposed to be tagged and what information was to be taken down. We gave it two “earring tags” on its flippers and one PIT tag inside its right shoulder, and Jack proceeded to release it back into the wild near where we had captured it. Now it was shower time and the students lathered up in their respective shower detergents, and hopped into the ocean. After rinsing off, students had a little while to relax before dinner time. Following dinner we are to have a MTE intro class in the salon, which is our final task of the day. All that is left is to do is work on individual class work and take the rest of the night off, until some students have to stay on Anchor Watch for different hours of the night.