This entry was written by Linnea Bird of Scotts Valley High School
The next morning most of us decided we wanted to watch the sunrise over the islands, and we all got up only to find that the fog was so thick we could not see anything. But then all of a sudden dolphins began to swim with the front of the boat as if they were playing a game. It was so amazing and made getting up at five AM worth our while.
Once we got to the first island, Santa Cruz, we had a full day planned. First we had a swim test around the boat, and then took small boats to the island to explore for about an hour. For the remainder of the day, we were split into three groups and rotated stations. The first station was snorkeling. The water was so incredibly clear and the amazing part, for me personally, was that we learned the names of all the fish and what they looked like the day before, so I felt like a real Marine Biologist being able to differentiate between all the fish.
Next, we went kayaking, learning about the different currents. We also caught plankton, which we later looked at under a microscope. One of our main goals of our excursion was to compare the plankton life on the front and backside of Santa Cruz Island to see if humans were impacting the marine life.
The last station was to observe and diagram a couple of animals from the Echino dermata phylum (spine skin) which some of the experienced divers collected that morning. My favorite was the sea cucumber and we were lucky enough to see the cucumber (Parastichopus Parvimensis) eject its insides to protect itself. It was strange, surprising, and exciting all at once.
To finish off the wonderful day, we bonded — playing cards, laughing and having a good time. When I was about to fall asleep, I heard someone yell “Wow that’s so cool!” I instantly jumped out of bed to see what the commotion was about and sure enough, I look over the edge of the boat where there was a light shining down on dozens of flying fish! It was so amazing how they would speed up and glide over the water like birds. Overall, it was a phenomenal day.