Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Voyage Home

And finally, the ride home began. It was a sadder departure than we were all expecting. We loaded the van at the resort at 11 am Honduran time. At the airport, we all checked our things and worked to get through immigration.

-- The island airport

We loaded our plane about 2pm Honduran time and landed in Atlanta about 7pm Eastern time. From there, we gathered our luggage again and proceeded through US customs. There were no major difficulties other than the hassle of lines and waiting.

--The walk to the plane in Honduras

After emerging from the tunnel train in terminal A, we discovered that we had been switched to B for our departure. We all hiked over to B and found some dinner throughout the airport before loading one more flight towards home.

The plane departed Atlanta at 9:50 that night, and we landed in Philadelphia just before midnight. No luggage was lost, and our rides were waiting as we loaded up for one more long travel break, the bus from Philly to home. Arriving in Williamsport around 4 am, the crew crawled towards their rooms and some much needed sleep.

Monday begins classes again and another week of lectures to finish this week out. We have all had a fantastic week and experience to remember for years to come.

Friday, May 18, 2007

One last day in the Carribean Sun

Friday morning was one of the sadder mornings of the trip as it was the last chance we would have to get into the water. The divers dove to 110’ on their wreck dive. The wreck was called the Aguila. The location is known for its eels and parrotfish that patrol the decks. They had a great time down there for the morning.

-- A few shots from the dive site

Those that snorkeled enjoyed some of the more beautiful corals and fish in the shallow reef off of the shore next to the wreck. The boat trip back to shore was disappointing to all since there was no more diving, snorkeling or time in the water to come.

The afternoon was what we were most interested in. We started our travels with a trip into the town of Coxen Hole. We visited some shops and all found some ‘goodies’ in the local grocery store.

--The main street of Coxen Hole

After the trip through Coxen Hole, we traveled further over the mountain to the Iguana farm. This was an interesting place, as well as the only place that we saw a sea turtle for the whole trip.

--The group with the iguanas

-- AJ's sea turtle... the only one we saw :-(

After the iguanas, it was back on the bus for a stop in Sandy Bay for a little more shopping and free time. All of us found interesting trinkets and gifts during our travels and we returned to the resort for the evening.

The night included some trivia games about the local history and heritage as well as some dancing. Winners for the evening included Lauren, Jen, AJ, Nicole and Pat. The night continued with more relaxation and fun between friends for one last night on the cabana. Tomorrow is our trip and travels home… A wonderful week it has been.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rainy Day

We awoke this morning to the sound of pouring rain. Dr. Z left at about 7:45 for his dive with the sharks. The students headed off to RIMS for a lecture about sea turtles before heading out for one of the more interesting dives. Due to the weather the water was hard and choppy. There was little room for just drifting on the reef. This site was called Pillar coral. This site had beautiful shallows as well as areas as deep as 80 ft for the divers and plenty of crevices to find creatures. We returned to land just in time for the picnic lunch on the key.

-- A few shots from Zimm's Dive


For the afternoon, we were off to the canopy cable zip line. There were 12 approx 60’ (or longer) cable lines to ride down through the jungle canopy to the final landing on the beach. By the time we all reached the bottom, it was raining again. This added to the fun for many. Bouncing and spinning around backwards 20’ in the air was interesting, but it was a wonderful experience for all whom hung their butts out in the air.

--Gail sailing down one line

--Pat sliding along upside-down

--The group at the top of the mountian

Tonight is the night dive for the divers; we shall see who arrives back to shore alive. They are going to dive at the same place we were at this morning. The snorks however are just going to hang out on the cabana with some Bob Marley since the water is too murky from the rain to snorkel in.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An island night

We have all come to reach the beginning stages of tired

--Eric sleeping in the RIMS classroom

So Tuesday night’s snorkel off of the side of Baliey’s Key was a very interesting experience. We witnessed many of the nocturnal fish and some very different creatures than we are accustomed to during the day. We also however witness jellyfish, turtle grass and little water gnats (baby fish or something like that) that were attacking our masks and lights. An interesting experience overall. It was enough to convince the divers to try the night dive this evening.

Wednesday morning was our trip to the mangroves on an island called Man-o-War key. In the roots we saw everything from a baby barracuda to a box jellyfish that scared even our RIMS leader Jennifer. For the rest of the morning we got to do some collecting and identifying outside of the marine reserve. We took nets through the back reef area and collected all different creatures that we then brought back to the boat and identified.

The afternoon started by identifying the many different phylum that live in the algae of the back reef. Jennifer had collected a large piece of algae during the morning, and we observed approximately 10 different phyla and many different life cycle stages all over the algae. The rest of the afternoon was a walk off the back porch of the cabana to investigate the snails and creatures of the rocky shore, or area of exposed dead reef.

-- The table where we were investigating and identifying many of the species

-- The crew wandering and searching for snails

The evening was one of the best we have had so far. It was the night of the picnic and party over on the Key. There was a lot of great food and friends. We have begun to make friends with the group of college students here from Florida. They are in a course similar to ours. After the food came a hermit crab race that our own Pat won. Alex won as the limbo king, and Eric and Lauren were champs on the dance floor. The rest of the evening included regional dancing and some very talented people whom danced with fire.

--Traditional Honduran dancing

--Fire Dancer with all the flames

The students spent the rest of the evening ‘dancing the night away’ to the Caribbean band and finally we all crashed for a little R & R on the cabana in the moonlight.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A walk through the garden

The morning started off bright and early with a guided tour through Carambola Gardens. This is a tropical reserve established by an American man whom came to Honduras with the Peace Corps and never left. We saw everything from cacao trees to banana trees, orchids and the “Honduran rabbit” or the wild agouti.

--Group Picture at the gardens

--Banana Tree and flower

From there it was back on our fine boat for a trip to the east for a nice shallow reef dive. This site was called Four Sponges. There were schools of fish and a beautiful reef wall. We kept a lookout for the different animals that live in the sponges as well as the elusive scorpionfish that is known to hide along the wall.

In the afternoon we had a lecture up at RIMS, the second half of bottle-nosed dolphins. From there we took a taxi boat over to Baliey’s Key where their dolphin colony is housed. We had a personal encounter in the shallows where we got to pet and play with them and the trainers did some tricks with them. This was followed by an even more fun snorkel with the dolphins. There were nine in the enclosure with us as we swam around in the enclosed reef.

--Lauren kissing the dolphin

--Dolphin Tricks - notice both of them in the air

Tonight is the night dive. Many of us are not so keen on this one since there is the chance of attracting the jellyfish to our flashlights. Getting too close to one is not a planned activity for any of us. More updates on that tomorrow.

We all miss Debbie!!

Monday, May 14, 2007


Today has been another fine day in the Caribbean. Today’s lecture included coral identification and reef identification from the RIMS staff. Then it was off to the south side of the island. Our first stop was Key Hole on the edge of the marine reserve. The reef has a sharp drop into the abyss and on the edge of the wall was a large number of fish species.

--Dr. Briggs snorkeling along

Then it was off to the island. On the island is another of the dolphin training centers. The group got a crash course in dolphin training. We spent 45 mins asking them to do things like walk on their tails, wave, jump and kiss. After the session we had lunch on the key followed by some nice free time.

--Jen giving the signal to jump to Rita

--A group playing with dolphins

On the way back we did a drift dive in an area full of staghorn coral. This area is very special to the island, as staghorn coral is one of the most endangered species of coral. This area is known as Smith Bank.

--Staghorn Coral

The rest of the evening was free time back on our own key. There was dancing and general fooling around. It was a welcome break from the water and class.

Tomorrow is another day...

Sunday, May 13, 2007



Last night we all discovered that we didn’t have an alarm clock. That would seem to be a problem. Not in Honduras. Many of us were awoken by the birds early this morning as the sun came up. Others were woken a little later by a very strange bird called the Zimminus annoyingus. This critter has very interesting taxonomy.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Vertebra

Class: Biologae

Order: Environales

Family: Professororus

Genus: Zimminus

Species: Annoingus

Common Habitat: Underwater, mud rooms, creeks, and tops of landfills.

Behavior: erratic, elusive, and can be found kissing jellyfish

After breakfast it was off to a lecture about fish identification. We then got to test our skills as we went out to the water with our gear and some sun screen. The view in Mandy's eel garden was amazing. After lunch, a large group of us kayaked around the lagoon of the island and visited with the dolphins a little. Nothing like marooning yourself in turtle grass, right Amber? Then at about 2 pm we took off for our second dive. More beautiful than the first, we all enjoyed the fish schools in Fish Den.

Here is the group in action

--Dive Crew on the bottom

--Snorkel crew from below

--Moray eel and Grey angel fish

--Coral Pillar

--A view of the reef

The night will end with two lectures from RIMS staff, mainly Jennifer, about the dolphins.

More updates to come!

Hasta Manana!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The longest day

Starting at 11:30 on Friday evening, the group embarked on a 14 hour traveling mission towards Honduras. We made a stop in Atlanta in which most of us chose to sleep.

AJ and Lauren

From there we landed in the middle of what seemed to be a picture from a magazine. The view from the window appeared the same as the one seen on google. After a hot walk through customs, it was off on a ride through the hills in an interesting bus to the resort. After we gathered our things, we were off to snorkel in the lagoon. We found many of the species that we had studied including an awesome reticulated sea star.

This is also our mother’s day wish to our mothers we won’t be seeing. We love you anyway.

Amber apologizes to her mother because the airline ripped her suitcase and her fins were falling out. So duct tape it will be for the journey home. I owe you a suitcase! Love you!

Jen regrets that she won’t be calling, but is safe and sound here! I’ll bring you a t-shirt.

We ended the day with a trip to the pool and lab orientation…

The end of the longest day…

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

And so it begins....

The week at Lycoming has begun. Preparation includes both lecture and lab before we go. We have discussed the taxonomy of the animals and plants that we will encounter, as well as created an ever growing list of "touch-me-not" creatures. That list tends to scare most of us into the "we won't touch anything" attitude. It seems that everything there wants to sting you.
This afternoon culminated with a trip over to the pool. Some more experienced members reviewed their scuba skills and tested equipment. Others of us with a little less practice fumbled around like dying fish in the water till we got the hang of fins, mask, and the ever bothersome snorkel.
See for yourself:

Amber and Jen take a breather

Alex tests his fins

Pat and Nicole get ready to test their gear

More updates to come - Please check in on us as we get ready to travel!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Anthony's Key Resort

Satellite view of the resort