On their last day of class our J term students had the chance to show what they learned in Marine Ecology Field Research Methods class to the CIEE staff and Walt, who drove them on several field trips during their stay. The students presented us the results from the coral monitoring they did using the AGRRA protocol (Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment) and we then had the opportunity to ask them (our experts!) questions about their results during a panel discussion.
We were informed about fish and coral numbers at Something Special and at Yellowsub dive sites and about how much dead substrate, algae and live corals were found at these sites. Furthermore, we learned how coral recruit numbers and the percentage of corals that are bleached increased between September 2016 and January 2017.
The best part of the panel discussion was the application student findings to real issues regarding the health of these coral reefs. Students considered how recent high rainfall may influence sedimentation levels along the reef and brainstormed methods to systematically test their ideas. Overall, all J term students left CIEE with experience in scientific research from experimental design to data collection to analysis and presentation.