Eyes on the coral: A volunteer's new perspective
One of our new arrivals, Kaitlyn, reflects on her first week and just how much she s learnt in that time. By shifting her focus from the vibrant reef inhabitants to their housing, she has found a whole new world of coral species to explore.
It’s amazing how much you can learn to see in only a week. Even though I’m someone that has always loved marine biology, I came here not knowing very much about coral, even though I’ll be spending two months studying it here at Cap Ternay.
I was mostly just excited to SCUBA dive a lot more and get a few certifications under my belt. I have always loved diving on reefs because the diving is mellow and the colors leave you breathless, wondering how a world that perfect could exist, and more so, how you became lucky enough to find yourself there. But coral was always simply a means—a colorful backdrop in which I could see the fish, eels, turtles, and other things that I was really after.
Since being on base just over a week, I have learned more than two-dozen corals and have been going on dives trying to identify them (the key word there being “trying”). I have learned what corals are, how they function and interact with other species and ecosystems, and what threatens them. It’s amazing how quickly my perception has changed, that what I once saw as a simple means now gives me excitement when I see a coral I have never seen (or never noticed), especially when I can correctly identify a difficult coral. The more corals I learn the more excited I get about going to find them, and to really be able to know and appreciate the area that I’m diving.
As volunteers we all come here with different goals, but nonetheless we come as volunteers to take part in this ongoing research. As much as we all hope to give back to this project, at the same time this project gives us something huge in return. It gives us a new knowledge of something previously unknown, and with that knowledge comes appreciation. I think the ultimate goal of this project, or any conservation project for that matter, is just that—getting people to see and appreciate what is naturally there so that we don’t lose our little slivers of paradise.
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