As the diving curriculum started to slow down, the marine curriculum could start being a more prominent player in the Sierra schedule. Cooper Island is known for the beautiful sea grass beds so it was only right to start with this ecosystem. Laurie started the day with a lesson on why sea grass beds are so important. She went over which animals call it home and then gave the students a list of critters that she wanted them to bring back to the boat. Everyone was very excited!
First up, Anne delivered an enormous West Indian sea egg which is a brown and white sea urchin. Not far behind, Liza spotted a milk conch and brought it to the boat. Kristin found a giant hermit crab and Keenen dove deep for a Donkey Dong Sea Cucumber! By the end of the “hunt” we had 2 buckets full of fun animals to learn about! Laurie began the lesson talking about the 4 most common sea grass and algae found in the area. She then moved on to sponges, mollusks, arthropods and echinoderms! As she spoke about each group of animal, the students passed the specimen around and took pictures. When the lesson on animal was finished we put all of the animals back safe and sound!
Before we could take off, Laurie had one more activity planned. Each student picked a partner and had to perform 3 transect studies. Each study was done to allow the students to predict what percentage of the sea grass bed was covered by the 4 grasses and algae discussed. The students did a very accurate job making Graham and Laurie very proud!
Around 12:30PM, we dropped the mooring ball and headed to our first dock of the trip. We went to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor (VGYH) and once on docks the students got their phones to call home and went exploring the stores. We had an excellent dinner of veggie stir fry and then we had to put on our game faces! Tonight Sierra was taking part in a “cake off!” Our competition was with Foxtrot and Tango. Sierra made a coral reef cake complete with lighting, music and pineapple decorations. We won overall presentation and walked away very proud of our creation!