Location: West End, Tortola
It’s hard to believe that today, as our last group of 13 shipmates leaves the dock, summer is finally over. We finished the summer with a great group of students and projects this session. We started off the session with work on Virgin Gorda at the Valley Day School and with some beach cleanups. After leaving Virgin Gorda, we got to spend a few days at Anegada working with the Conservation and Fisheries Department doing turtle tagging research. We also visited the Anegada Rock Iguana Headstart facility and learned about the animals from Anegada’s head National Parks ranger, Rondel. Our next big stop after Anegada was Jost Van Dyke, where we spend a few days working with the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society before heading back to Tortola and finishing up the session with some mangroves and VISAR.
Throughout all the projects, our students were motivated and hardworking, especially Jacob, our one returning student who used his knowledge from last year to helped lead the group. Cora was another natural leader and could always be found doing something fun with a massive smile on her face. Cecilia, our resident Brit/Swede, provided us with a different perspective, as well as some great Swedish phrases, and her giggle was a constant presence on board. She also pulled up one of the biggest and angriest hawksbill turtles I’ve ever seen, which was super impressive. Alli also was constantly bringing smiles to our faces, whether it was with her ceaseless hard work or the brilliant pictures she was always taking. Adam, a budding young sailor, was invaluable in helping us sail the boat, and he was always helping out on board. Jack was our fishing expert, and every time I talked to him, I learned something new (usually about fly fishing). Ally and Lydia, two girls who were actually friends from home, taught us some fun staring games and were also incredible at befriending and chaperoning the younger students from the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society. The last girl on board was Rachel, who brought her charm and humor to every project we did. She worked hard all session, and one of my favorite projects was a mission with her to grab mangrove seedlings in a really shallow and tight spot. Together Rachel, Dahrius, and I half-dragged and half-oared our dinghy Shadow into the middle of a mangrove forest on a quest to get some seedlings. Both Rachel and Dahrius were awesome on that project, and we were successful in collecting the seeds. I honestly believe Jules was the best water-skier I have or ever will see. Thomas, despite joining the group a day late, fit right in, and his jokes made the trip what it was. He and Sam were also so hardworking and were at the core of a squad that dredged SO MUCH mud out of the front of the VISAR base. Everyone was great, and we’ll miss them all. Every session, we get great students, but these were truly special, and I hope we run into them again at some point in the future.