As the great Daniel DeSmidt (and the late Charles Dickens) once said, ‘twas the best of days, twas the worst of days’ and today ‘twas the last of days for the Biology 403 Field Class of 2011 on Coconut Island. To express in words what our time together on Coconut Island has been like would be nearly impossible, but to say it was marvelous, invigorating, educational and even exacerbating at times comes close.
Looking back at the first dinner together is a cause for laughter, as the silence amidst chewing and the sound of crickets was the only thing we heard. Compare that to the “last supper” we had together, Lisa’s amazing enchiladas sizzling in the oven, Latin music playing on the radio, reminiscing about all the amazing memories we have created on this island within an island.
Moku O Leo has brought us all together as 9 students, undergraduates, scientists, cooks, storytellers and friends. It has made us better thinkers, boat drivers, swimmers, writers, iMovie creators, bloggers, Gyu-Kaku fans and marine scientists, and I believe motivated all of us to work harder and question more.
Our last night on Coconut ended on the beach star gazing and taking pictures, while our final morning today started early with pancakes and sausage. Presentations of our three teams, Lingula, Dialatata and Spatial distribution started at 11:30am for an audience of fellow collegues, professors and malasadas. The presentations were all spectacular and well recieved and all of our hard work over the last 4 weeks has finally paid off!!!! We were also finally able to look at some of the areal photos taken on our last field day on reefs 43 and 44! They are beautiful and capture some very unique angles!
Next, we spent a few hours cleaning up, taking last photos and goodbye hugs and departed for town…..well some of us that is…. James’s keys were mysteriously lost in the midst’s of packing, so after a trip to his car, a hunt around the island and through the trash, and a few boat rides back and forth we managed to finally find them safely hidden in his truck.
Few have the luxury of ever stepping foot on such a paradise as Coconut Island, and even fewer the chance to conduct scientific research on a threatened NOAA species of concern, let alone even see an inarticulated brachiopod or rare Hawaiian reef coral. While it may have only been one month out of our lives, the memories and skills we have learned here will last us all a lifetime, and as the jet planes keep flying over head, and the hammerheads and puffers stay swimming around the Lilipuna Pier, refrigerator cleaned and clothesline empty, these 9 “students of life” leave this paradise for town side and move on to new chapters and adventures:
Keisha (Wifey) is off to dive the exotic reefs of the Virgin Islands, we know your having fun Keisha! James (Generic) starts his internship with the NOAA Monk Seal Research Program this semester and will hopefully make it to the NWHI before too long! Peter (Sweden) begins his applications for business school (or medical school), while Ceina (farmer Oz) looks forward to applying to veterinary schools. Dan (Danimal) has work to look forward to tagging and studying hammerhead sharks in the Holland Lab here on Coconut Island, after he gets back from his “vacation” to the mainland. And as for the rest of us, Madi (Chalant) and myself (Captain) will happily be back on Coconut next week, working in the coral lab for Madi and the marine mammal acoustics lab for me, while Emily (Cow Tippa) and Lauren (Rosy Cheeks) finish up the summer and look forward to graduating in the Spring!
We have said thanks to the TA’s, thanks to the professors and lastly thank you to Moku O Leo! Goodbye for now Lingula and Dilatata, we will miss you until next time!
1 bottle Aloe Vera to cure all the bad sunburns= $9
2 bags chocolate chips and coffee for late night and early morning scientific writing= $16
One month living with 9 crazy, beautiful and amazing aspiring marine scientists= PRICELESSSSSSS
See you all next semester