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Bermuda Field Course 2012 :: Daily Report

Day 02 | Friday, March 09, 2012
First Full Day at BIOS and Trip to Spittal Pond

Our first full day in Bermuda, and we're already having adventures!  Breakfast was served bright and early (7:45-8:30) and was delicious.  We spent the morning learning about Bermuda and BIOS, with a couple of lectures and a nice tour around campus.  We got to see several of the labs and speak to a couple researchers about what they do here at BIOS.  We also learned about some of the environmental challenges being faced by people here in Bermuda. 
            The island is a beautiful place, but it is very remote, and that comes along with its own set of problems, one of which is a small supply of water.  Any freshwater in Bermuda comes from rainwater, which is collected from the roofs of buildings and is then purified for drinking.  Ever since arriving at BIOS, the staff has impressed upon us the importance of conserving the water, in case there is a shortage.  Ten-minute showers are recommended, and if the tap is leaking, we are to call someone to fix it immediately.  The station has its own water purification station, so we aren't too worried about running short, but we have to be careful all the same. 
            Another problem worth noting is that of pollution.  There are two main types of pollution here, the kind that washes in from the ocean, and the type produced by the residents.  Since Bermuda is in the middle of the ocean, lots of trash washes up on its shores, particularly plastics.  It's obvious which plastics have been floating in the ocean for a while, because they are broken down into small pieces and wash ashore with the Sargassum (the brown seaweed for which the Sargasso Sea is named).  This is a difficult problem to control, as it is really trash from other coastlines which ends up broken on the beaches here.  However, another looming issue is the disposal of trash here on Bermuda itself.  Residents here create a huge amount of trash (more than a New York City resident, per capita), much of which is due to the fact that almost everything is imported.  There isn't really anywhere to put the trash.  Since the island is so remote, much of it gets incinerated.  The ash is mixed with cement, and dumped into the harbor.  Large appliances and cars are simply dumped without further processing or recycling into the water.  Pollutants from these sources can cause obvious problems with the natural ecosystems here on the island, but they are not problems with simple solutions.
            After lunch we packed up sampling gear and caught a bus to Spittal Pond.  The bus system in Bermuda is worth a quick mention.  Since Bermuda was colonized by the British, it has retained much of that culture.  This means everyone drives on the left side of the road, which can be....interesting, especially on a large bus.  Add to that the fact that all Bermudian roads seem to be narrow and windy, and it's not a great combination.  There were several times when the bus must have missed passing cars by mere inches.  Also, on our trip back, we discovered that not all bus stops actually look like bus stops.  Some are just blue posts stuck next to a rock wall, with no shoulder on the road at all.  We spent a good ten minutes standing in the road because if we weren't next to the post the bus wouldn't stop for us.  It was altogether an exciting experience. However, we reached our destination safe and sound. 
            Despite its off-putting name, the Spittal Pond area was really beautiful, with a rocky limestone shoreline and tropical forest.  We spent the afternoon exploring the shore, examining creatures in the tidal pools, and taking pictures of the scenery.  We didn't actually end up collecting any data, but it was still a learning experience.  Around every corner was some new organism or geological feature worth discussing.  In addition to the learning, some of us managed to catch a nice nap in the sun. 
            We are currently still anticipating the arrival of the Southampton group, who should be getting in around dinnertime, after a 1 day delay in their flights.  After that, who knows what adventures lie in wait?

- Jennifer Dean

chitons clusters in a rockpool
Chiton clusters in a rockpool

the group discussing intertidal fauna
The group discussing intertidal fauna

rocks
Rocks

rocky coast at spittal pond
Rocky coast at Spittal Pond

west indian topshels and date mussels
West Indian topshells and date mussels

 

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