168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网dnesday featured a snorkeling visit to a location know as 'The Aquarium.' Photo of these soft corals by Justin To '23.
For obvious reasons, it got its name because it's a location where you are likely to see plenty of undersea activity, like these French Grunts. Photo by Justin To '23.
The variety of organisms is breathtaking, especially the Sea Plume Coral (center). Photo by Justin To '23.
Students look over some of The Aquarium's features. Sea Fans and Boulder Coral are among the species featured here. Photo by Justin To '23.
Yellowfin Grunts seem to love this Staghorn Coral. Photo by Justin To '23.
Smooth Star (left), Brain (center rear) and Sea Plume (front) Coral is featured here. Photo by Justin To '23.
What's visible on the sea bed is pretty impressive. Here, an Angelfish (bottom center) inspects the Brown Encrusting Octopus Sponge (right). Photo by Justin To '23.
This Great Star Coral sits in about 20 feet of water at The Aquarium. Photo by Justin To '23.
168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网denesday afternoon, students had the option to return to the patch reef or tidal pools to continue research for their trip presentations. Dr. 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel led the group back to the reef and took this photo.
Brain (right) and Fire Coral. Photo by Eric 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel
Even though this immersion trip is focused on invertebrates, it's tough in this environment to escape the presence of fish. Photo by Eric 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel
Thursday morning, the group snorkeled among the Mangroves in Twin Caye. There are four types of Mangrove: Red, Black, White, and Buttonwood.
As the students entered the Mangroves, our guide, Noble, said, 'Above and below there is life. The cool stuff is in the roots.'
Feather Duster worms, like this one, were prevalent.
With sponges like this, plenty of water filtration occurs in the Mangrove root structure.
Moving slowly, not to stir the sediment, there is much to see just below the water line.
Many reef fish grow and develop in the Mangroves before heading to open water.
Often, sponges provide a burst of color, like this Green Magic Sponge.
Twin Caye is a short boat ride from the IZE Belize Research Facility.
Before heading back to IZE Belize, the group stopped for more snorkeling at a location known as 'The Sinkhole.' Here Takashi Greiner '24 dives toward the fissure.
The Sinkhole is a relatively new formation, possibly formed due to earthquakes in the region.
Tour guide Noble watches as the students swim toward the boat.
Justin To climbs aboard.
Prior to lunch, students and Dr. 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel gather at IZE Belize for a casual conversation and a review of the morning activities.
SOUTH WATER CAYE, Belize -- Immersion trips always seem to present an explosion of information and sensory inputs when a class arrives on site.
It was no different for Dr. Eric 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel’s BIO 322 Invertebrate Biology course when the boat docked in Belize at the IZE Belize research station on March 5. Seven snorkeling excursions – four different ecosystems (sea grass, mangrove, reef, tidal pool) – with multiple exposures to the world’s second-longest barrier reef.
“There is no way we can work through the complexity here in an orderly way, so you might as well embrace the complexity of it,” said 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel. “There is all this crazy stuff going on. Let’s focus on the little stuff for a bit. They can hit the reef and see everything and see nothing. Getting them to slow down and look at something in depth, hopefully, allows them to see that better.”
He taps the brakes for the students by having them choose their own research projects, do the research, analysis, and present to the class in the span of two or three days.
“I want them to engage in something they are interested in,” he continued. “The projects focus them on a singular thing dealing with invertebrates. Then they can extrapolate and say, ‘Oh, there are a million of those individual interactions.’ For me, that is the big benefit of the project.”
Joseph Miller ’25, a biochemistry major, did his research on a local Swimming Crab and how that species reacted to different habitats. He loved the scientific experience.
“You get to see different morphologies of a bunch of different genera,” he said. “This is one of the few places in the world where you could see a crazy amount of diversity. Three to five percent of known species are at the coral reefs. It is crazy being under the water at the reef with a massive amount of diversity.”
For chemistry major Adan Villeda ’23, much of this experience was brand new, and being able to lean on 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel and his classmates was helpful.
“Everything I did here was for the first time,” said the Chicago native. “The first times are so memorable. Having people around you who know what they are doing to guide you, made me feel more comfortable doing the science. Learning about invertebrates and marine biology has been a whole new world for me. This experience has been the best.”
So much of this immersion experience is getting familiar again with the joy of discovery and answering the questions that interest you. And when those questions arise along a coral reef with so much happening right in front of your eyes, the answers don’t always come simply or directly.
“That is a natural thing,” said 168体育平台下载_足球即时比分-注册|官网tzel. “In some ways, it’s a recovery of the wonder and fascination of doing biology and asking questions. It’s almost a childlike wonder and amazement, and it ought to be. The students understand that there is a ton of variability in this. For them to be able to see that this isn’t clean or orderly is a benefit. There aren’t clean lines. That’s just life.”
Especially for Villeda, the project was challenging initially. But by using the scientific method and some helpful input from classmates, it turned into something positive.
“Being able to pursue something outside of the lab was very rewarding for me,” Villeda said. “Everything was new and to be able to run this project in just a few days, was memorable for me.
For Miller, the challenge was right at his fingertips.
"The biggest challenge in doing this project was not getting pinched by the crabs,” he joked. “Swimming Crabs like to pinch and it hurts a lot when they catch you.”