Location: Statia

We had two reasons to be excited this morning. We had some special guests onboard visiting from the University of South Florida, and most importantly, its Casey’s 20th birthday!!! Amanda, Tom, and Peter from USF and Travis joined us for breakfast and for our academic filled morning. We started off the morning with OCB and looked at different types of artificial reefs and their benefits. The students were able to impress our visitors with the knowledge they’ve gained from 70 days around the Caribbean, which helped to create a great discussion as to the merits of artificial reefs. After a brief break, we moved into our combined OCB and OCE lab, looking at plankton diversity in the region and comparing that to the water quality of the coastal waters. With groups split into two, it enabled everyone to get a chance to head out on the dinghy and complete plankton tows and to analyze their samples under the microscope. After a pretty full-on morning, we had lunch and then a talk from the local marine park office, which gave us a good chance to see the benefits f the reserve set up around Statia and compare it to the earlier reserves we’ve been to. Returning to the boat gave the students a chance to complete their OCE projects and a chance to relax before we headed over to shore to celebrate Casey’s birthday in style with a beach BBQ, complete with a massive German chocolate Birthday cake!!!