Day 1 :
Departure from Home
Relax and enjoy your scheduled flight to Nassau, Bahamas.
- Upon arrival:
Your 24-hour Tour Director will meet you at the Nassau airport and remain with your group throughout your Marine Biology STEM trip to the Bahamas. After arriving in Nassau, you will take an internal flight to Andros and a shuttle to the field station, where you’ll stay in bunkhouses for the next six nights.
- Orientation session:
You’ll participate in an orientation session, covering the health and safety aspects of the week ahead.
Day 2 :
Snorkeling with Reef Fish
- Safety orientation:
A snorkel orientation will be provided this morning, so you’re comfortable in the water and familiar with the equipment. Everyone is required to wear BCDs (Buoyancy Control Devices) when swimming or snorkeling. Your group will always have one to two educational staff in the water with you and one educational staff on the boat keeping visual track of everyone in the water.
- Blue Hole Cay snorkeling:
This site is well known for its schools of snapper and hogfish, and in the winter, the surrounding seagrass beds are filled with spotted sea hares. This is a shallow snorkel with an easily disturbed bottom. Interestingly, the tidal flow of water from the land to the blue hole and back can lead to dramatic thermoclines, the point at which you feel a difference in the temperature of the surface water and the deeper water below. Next, you’ll snorkel in a patch reef, featuring a huge variety of fish and soft corals, a great spot for beginner and advanced snorkelers alike.
- Group lunch:
Enjoy lunch in a picturesque cay.
- Geology walk:
Many of the processes on a geologic timescale happen much more quickly on the cay. Your group will study these processes on a geology walk. The goniolithic algae found in the shallow waters at the cay provide the perfect opportunity for our goniolithon lab and invertebrate identification.
- Evening lecture:
After dinner, you’ll attend a lecture on reef fish identification.
- Daily Reflection and Group Discussion:
"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." - John Dewey
On every evening of the program, we’ll set time aside to update your Reflection Journal and share thoughts and impressions that have come up during the day.
Day 3 :
Bluffs and Birds
- Morgan's Bluff:
This 65-foot bluff is the highest point on Andros. A short walk up to the cliff face provides a beautiful view of the ocean and reef. Legend says notorious pirate Captain Henry Morgan buried his treasure in the cave below Morgan's Bluff. Take a half-hour to look at the unique geology of this cave, including stalactites and stalagmites, and the surrounding botany. This cave is easily accessible but also fun to walk and crawl through, with plenty of space for larger groups.
- Regatta Beach:
Regatta Beach is a great spot for shelling, relaxing, and watching the boats move in and out of the largest port on Andros. You’ll eat lunch on the beach.
- Conch Sound Blue Hole:
Conch Sound Blue Hole is an oceanic blue hole only 50 feet offshore. Here, you can see huge spadefish and a shipwreck. The surrounding area has multiple species of mangroves and shrubs perfect for a botany talk and hike.
- Botany walk:
You’ll stop at another blue hole for a refreshing freshwater swim and an in-field botany walk.
- Evening talk:
Your after-dinner lecture tonight will be on bird identification.
Day 4 :
Reefs and Wrecks
- Staniard Reef:
As part of the barrier reef, Staniard Reef has a high diversity of coral, many of them quite old and featuring an even less-common hybrid species, fused staghorn coral. This is one of the collection sites for your coral propagation project. You can also see a rum-runner that crashed into the barrier and drifted into the lagoon, just off the coast from Staniard Creek. The wreck is home to nurse sharks, schools of juvenile fish, corals, and algae. Swim around the wheelhouse, engine block, and other debris to see firsthand how reefs are formed.
- Picnic lunch:
You’ll enjoy lunch on the beach before snorkeling at a reef crest to see a variety of marine habitats and high fish diversity. This site has especially well-developed Elkhorn corals.
- Evening talk:
Tonight's lecture will focus on invertebrate identification.
Day 5 :
Bahamian History and Culture
- Bahamian sponge trade:
You’ll travel to the other side of the island this morning to visit local craftsmen and learn about the sponge trade.
- Exploring tidal pools:
A road through a mangrove swamp takes you to a favorite tide pooling area at low tide. You can flip over rocks to find an array of invertebrates, including sea stars, snails, shrimp, lobsters, and crabs. This is a perfect place for an in-field invertebrate talk and identification lab.
- Evening talk:
This evening's lecture will be on history and culture.
Day 6 :
- Rat Cay Blue Hole:
The hole is surrounded by finger corals that grow up to the low tide line, providing shelter for invertebrates like lettuce leaf nudibranchs and lobster. Your group’s next stop is a stunning patch reef in the lagoon with a huge, diverse population of fish and soft corals.
- Saddleback Cay:
Your lunch spot today is at Saddleback Cay. Saddleback has several different ecosystems including seagrass, mangroves, sand flats, and rocky intertidal areas. There is great shelling and wading for sand dollars on the west side and snorkeling on the east.
- Turtle Reef:
Your final stop for the day is Turtle Reef. Located on the fringing barrier reef, it has massive coral heads and, while most are alive, some relics of huge coral mounds that have been recolonized by algae and soft corals.
- Free evening:
You’ll have the evening free to spend at your leisure.
Day 7 :
Blue Holes and Water Chemistry
- Tour a Batik factory:
After a morning lecture on blue holes, you’ll see another side of the Bahamas at a Batik Factory. Batik is the unofficial national fabric of the Bahamas. Take a tour to see the process of fabric Batiking.
- Somerset Beach:
You’ll have lunch at Somerset Beach, a beautiful white-sand beach that stretches for several miles. The beach is also, unfortunately, a good location to undertake beach clean-ups and discuss the impact of plastic trash and ocean health.
- Blue Hole National Park:
This afternoon, you'll see the largest blue hole on the island, Captain Bill's. There is an exhilarating 15-foot jump into the water and a pavilion for relaxing. As part of Blue Hole National Park, Captain Bill's is well-kept by the Bahamas National Trust, so there are plenty of nature trails and birding.
- Water chemistry lab:
Your group will also visit the Blue Hole Water Chemistry Lab.
- Farewell dinner and bonfire:
You’ll enjoy dinner and an exit briefing together, then conclude your trip with a festive bonfire and stories.
- Final Reflection and Discussion Session:
This evening, you’ll make the final entries in your Reflection Journal and share some of the most significant observations and perspectives that have taken shape in the course of your Marine Biology in the Bahamas trip. We’ll also discuss how these experiences may be most relevant for us all as we return home.
Day 8 :
Departure for Home