Early this morning, our friend Manny from the other night came over with a box of plants that the natives have special uses for. This was to help Maggie with her Ethnobotany project. He had a lot of useful information for her about the plants, but a little bit more about information about Jesus! (Also very interesting, if not related to botany).
We had plans to go snorkeling at the ocean reef this afternoon, so some of us who wanted practicing snorkeling (everyone except the experience Billie) went out at the end of our own beach where there is a man made jetty. We saw a puffer fish, a sharksucker (very unusual sighting), our first live conch, a live sand dollar, and most exciting, several sting rays! This all on our own beach!
After lunch we went on our real snorkel adventure, with guides Rogi and Jesse. Our first stop was at an oceanic blue hole, which was blowing out a strong, warm current. We saw some beautiful fish, and some brave souls dove into the hole itself. Rogi went looking for some conch for us to take home and eat, and he came upon a very unusual and exceptionally beautiful mollusk, an Atlantic Triton's Trumpet. It was at least a foot long, a pointed spiraling shell with an ornate mouth. Austin got to see his first sea cucumber for his echinoderms project, also found by Rogi. It was a "Donkey Dung" sea cucumber, and you don't need a description of what it looks like! We also got to hold a brilliant red sea star, an excellent subject for Austin's project.
At the bigger reef we saw lots of Elk Horn coral which has become rare in the Bahamas, and is very beautiful. Among the coral there were hundreds and hundreds of species of fish, which we are trying to account for in our reef fish guide. We got to sea some barracuda and a little ways of Jesse spotted a sea turtle.
Rogi collected about 15 conch, most of which he found roped together in clumps. Some one who had been collecting them had forgotton them there. Some of them were already dead, but the ones that were salvageable Rogi took home and conch salad for us. This is fresh conch tomatoes, peppers, onions, and lemon and lime juice. It was delicious! We took it with us to the Adam's Family Restaurant where we ate more native food even more delectable than the night before. The biggest excitement of the meal was "crawfish" (spiney lobster) tails. Betty was very excited for this since she has never had the lobster even though she's been visiting Andros since 1984!
The moon is almost full tonight and the water is glittering into the horizon under it. It will be full for the festival tomorrow night, which hopefully we will have energy to enjoy after our day of more snorkeling!