|See the world (and its fossils) with UCMP's field notes.
|SEARCH | GLOSSARY | SITE MAP|
July 1, 2008: Sad morning
Later in the day we went for a dive in Casa Cenote which connects with the ocean via a cave. It was only a three-minute dive from the lagoon to the open ocean with the brisk oceanbound current. Afterwards, we explored the mangroves (which grow around the perimeter of the cenote) and the caves underneath their prop roots. Different kinds of mangroves have different methods of dealing with salt water some have roots that efficiently filter out salt and others take up the salt and later secrete it through their leaves. After this fun day of recreational diving, the group sat down at the nearby beachfront restaurant for a feast of fresh seafood.
July 2, 2008: Crocodile?
I joined Brett on this dive out of curiosity and my vested interest in the sonde I tried not to think about the eight-foot crocodile that inhabits this cenote and the reports of two other crocs recently sighted in the vicinity. So, we jumped into the smelly, algae-filled water, which hid us from the crocodiles … and vice versa. Fortunately, we saw no large reptiles this day.
We swam down to the guideline and squeezed through a muddy crack in the cenote floor. Several feet in, the water became surprisingly clear, revealing a gorgeous, jagged fracture that was six-feet wide and three-stories tall. This fracture descends to a depth of about 220 feet, making it one of the deepest cenotes in the state of Quintana Roo. Upon reaching the sonde, Brett unclipped it from the line to which it was fastened and I offered to hold it as he reeled up the rest of the line. I gripped the expensive device tightly, not wanting to see it fall through some crack in the cave wall. All went smoothly and we ascended to the cave entrance. Mission completed! Hopefully, the data will turn out well and I can trust that the sonde will perform reliably at my sites later in the week.
July 4, 2008: Remipede sighting!
The mysids (shrimp-like crustaceans) and isopods proved easy to catch, but the quick-swimming shrimp were very elusive. Between the four of us and Professor Iliffe, who was collecting on another dive, we returned to the condo with 12 mysids, four large isopods (plus the one I caught in the morning), one small isopod, and three shrimp. Unfortunately, we did not see another remipede on the dive, but after the students leave, I'll return to Taj Mahal to get sediment and water samples, take measurements with the sonde, and collect more animals … which I hope will include a remipede or two. I was up until after midnight identifying and photographing the specimens and so missed the holiday fireworks, but it was all well worth it. It is quite exciting to have found my first site. My research is finally underway!
July 7, 2008: Turtle sighting
Around midnight I noticed a number of people huddled outside our condo on the beach. When I went down to investigate, I found a silent group of turtle conservationists hovering over something. Only after my eyes had adjusted to the dark did I realize that the object of interest was a female turtle digging in the sand. Her shell was at least three feet long and her paddle-like arms were moving around in the sand as she laid her eggs. Every once in a while, the conservationists would bring over red lights (less disruptive than white) to inspect the progress of the nesting. After about 45 minutes, the turtle completed its business and made its way back to the ocean only then did I have a chance to ask some questions about what I had just seen. The turtle was a Loggerhead and had probably laid about 120 eggs. The conservationists covered up the nest with more sand, surrounded it with coral rubble, and marked it with a sign dating the nesting. Hopefully, in about 60 days, most of the hatchlings will make their way out to the water. Conservation programs like Centro Ecologico Akumal, the Akumal Ecological Center, are helping to replenish the world's dwindling sea turtle populations by protecting beaches used annually by nesting sea turtles. Go to www.ceakumal.org to see what you can do to help. For a small fee, you can even become a Turtle Watch Volunteer.
Photo of Taj Mahal entrance by Sara Collar; Taj Mahal light show by Brett Gonzalez; Shane, palapa, Taj Mahal path, and Julie and Joey by Ryan Morales; Julie and Brett by Joey Pakes; turtle eggs, hatchling turtle, sea turtle, Brett tackling another diver, dinner, Naharon entrance, and Dr. Iliffe by Aimy Thorsen.
HOME | SEARCH | GLOSSARY | SITE MAP | FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS