Study Abroad in
Finally! Today was the day: the day of the Ostracod night dive. We had been waiting for this day for quite some time and were all very excited to get in the water. After class this past Friday, the students and staff (myself included) geared up and went for a short walk to Something Special dive site in Kralendijk, Bonaire. We all buddied up and entered the water, eager to witness the amazing mating display of the ostracods. Ostracods, known as seed shrimp, are small crustaceans in the phylum Arthropoda. These amazing creatures are only a few millimeters long yet have a simple eye in the middle of their head, two compound eyes on either side, and seven pairs of appendages. We specifically watched the marine species, Photeros annecohenae, which produces the protein luciferin and the enzyme luciferase and excretes them from a light organ found on their upper lip. When these two compounds meet and react in the presence of seawater and oxygen, light is produced.
This bioluminescence is used to attract members of the opposite sex for mating purposes. We waited for Friday night, a few days after the full moon, for the ostracod display to be the most dramatic as they tend to hold off on their bioluminescent display when there is an abundance of light. Once we were out by the reef crest, we turned off our lights and let the magic unfold. Within minutes these tiny organisms began to swim upwards, blueish pulses of light trailing closely behind.
It was quite a sight to behold! These trails were anywhere from 40cm to 70cm long which is quite impressive considering how small these organisms are. I really enjoyed the bioluminescence dive because it stressed how easy it is to overlook such extraordinary things. If we had come 15 minutes too late we would have missed the display. Just goes to show how important it is that we fight to save our world's oceans or risk losing such amazing creatures like the ostracods, which we may not have even known existed!
Fun Fact: Some myodocopid ostracods are ferocious predators and can bring down animals several sizes larger than them (i.e. annelid worms and fish) by attacking in groups. The ostracods attack the weakest parts of the animal first eating them alive. The attack can last several minutes until the victim is eventually killed.
Post by Ajay Shenoy, student of Spring 2017
Last weekend our Spring Semester students set foot on Sunny Bonaire, ready for a loaded but rewarding semester. The first four weeks are packed with diving, classes about diving and about Marine life id and research methods, since those weeks are meant to train everyone as an independent research divers. And of course Resident Dog Dushi is always prepared to lend a hand...
Just one week ago, our Fall 2016 students presented their research to the public. I can't believe how far they came in just 3 months, growing from inexperienced divers and scientists in training to independent research divers who can define a research question, develop a research method, collect and analyse data, write and publish a paper and present it to the public. Congratulations to all for this awesome accomplishment!
Curious to what their research entailed? Click here to read their papers in our house journal, Physis.
By Nakayla Lestina
What question(s) does your research address?
My research project investigated how habitat structure and topographic complexity influences fish and invertebrate species diversity and abundance. The project also explored how the cover of algae communities influenced habitat structure and topographic complexity. It is important to understand the relationship among habitat structure, topographic complexity, fish, and invertebrate communities because of the influences these have on coral reef ecosystems.
read more on:cieebonaire.org
By: Nikki Jackson
As a part of the Tropical Marine Conservation Biology course, CIEE fall semester students celebrated Halloween this year in recycled style. In an attempt to reduce the waste that usually goes into holidays, we made it our task to celebrate Halloween by using as few new materials as possible. Recycled materials were used for everything from decorations to costumes, and even the instructors got involved in the recycled costumes.
Everyone’s costumes turned out to be BOOtiful! Among many great costumes we had an angler fish, a giant squid, and even a Tarzan! Halloween activities ranged from ghost musical chairs, to Halloween themed charades. Everyone got into character, and let loose a little bit for a fun Monday night of Halloween festivities.