Monday, October 6, 2008

Coral reefs

Yesterday was the trip to Eilat. It was amazing. First we went to this plant where they're growing fish and algae, and doing various studies on mariculture. Next, was the observatory and and aquarium, where we sat in on a class, I'd say probably 5th grade. The aquarium instructors gave the class instructions in Hebrew, and then they explained what was happening to us in English. The students are given two corals to be responsible for. They take a field trip to the aquarium once a month to check on their corals. These are corals that have broken off the reefs naturally or by divers, and are being nurtured back to health. If they grow sufficiently, they are returned to the ocean. Also, various fish are being helped the same way at the aquarium. We saw a puffer that was caught in a stray fishing hook. He was rescued, but he can't be put back because his mouth was too damaged for him to be able to feed himself in the wild. Pictures from the underwater observatory to follow.
After all this (and lunch, as well as a lecture I fell asleep during), we went snorkeling. This was the highlight. We just walked into the water off the beach, and were able to swim out far. There was a huge area in which we could snorkel, and hardly anyone but the 12 of us in the water. Also, it was so warm we didn't even need wetsuits. We were in the water not too long, maybe an hour or so. We saw an artificial reef, where the scientists are trying to promote more coral growth and biodiversity by placing man-made structures for the coral to grow on in places were there is too much sediment for proper natural growth. I'd probably understand more of this if the lecture on it had been not right after lunch, or if it was in a better air conditioned room. But it was hot and I was food-sleepy so I missed most of the artificial reef explanation. While snorkeling, we also saw some natural reefs, which had lots of fishies and they were colorful and awesome.
For dinner that night, we went to this awesome Bedouin restaurant a little farther down on the beach. They brought us coffee, then tea, then the array of food: fresh baked flat bread, goat cheese, hummus, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers, ful (garlicly delicious bean mush), some kind of hot sauce, and chocolate hazelnut spread even more delicious than nutella could ever hope to be. The meal was finished was in the traditional style: hookah. The restaurant owner even sat with us, though he sat at the other end of the table with the professor, reef scientist, and TA. But it was almost like being welcomed into a Bedouin home. Pictures of that to follow as well.
Tomorrow is our presentations and exams. I'm preparing for both right now. This class was so jam packed and a bit stressful, but I am so excited for a normal class schedule to start up. I know it will be way harder than what I'm doing now, but this class has been crazy. Especially with having to share our time with the Masa programing. The Masa programing is sort of ridiculous. I don't really understand religiously motivated governments.

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