To study the tropical marine ecosystem you would need to study in a tropical place, right? Puerto Rico works! Eight students travelled to Ponce, Puerto Rico, where we all met up then travelled to Boqueron. The Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Center has recently relocated to this small local town. Being in Puerto Rico reminded me of being in Costa Rica except the roads were much nicer and more people speak English. The roads were tiny and the simple houses were covered in bars. Although compared to the United States, everything is much more colorful (the buildings). Once there, we started our research right away with La Playa Boqueron. In total, we assessed 12 locations based on their composition and anthropogenic impacts. We saw all sorts of cool fishes and other animals like turtles, a seahare, urchins, christmas tree worms, manatees and lots more. Check out the "Gallery" page for more photos.
This trip was particularly special because we were able to watch a leatherback turtle nesting with the assistance of local student volunteers. We saw wild manatees in a lagoon and even a hawksbill sea turtle swimming at one of our locations. These three animals are all endangered and protected. We were able to appreciate them in their natural habitat. This trip was incredibly educating and an experience of a lifetime. Feel free to checkout the research center's webpage at http://www.marine-eco.org/