South Florida #5: Expanding Our Knowledge of Marine Ecology

Hawk Okpokwasili ’25 and Mukhtar Handulle ’23, describe a fun day of kayaking and snorkeling.

Today was one of the most fun days of the trip and we started off with kayaking at the Florida Keys. In each Kayak there was a group of two and as we paddled along the Florida Keys, we learned about mangroves, struggled a little bit, veered off course as little as possible and had a blast. The trip was about an hour and a half. For the first half of the trip we paddled into a small body of water surrounded by mangroves, got out of our kayaks, and took a quick ten minute dip in the water. We then paddled back to shore, got on a bus, and drove to the Marine Lab. After eating delicious chicken nuggets at the Marine Lab, we got ready for our second activity of the day, snorkeling.

For many of us, this was our first time snorkeling and we had so much anxiety getting into the water and putting on our gear. Surprisingly, our fears faded away the moment we set our feet in the water, pairing in groups of two for support and safety. We learned some communication signs by our instructors one more time before we fulfilled our childhood dreams, to see what is underneath the ocean. During this time, we came across some jellyfish, a mermaid’s teacup (a type of algae) and  a variety of fish, including grouper, barracuda, snapper and parrot fish.  Swimming with all of these organisms helped expand our knowledge of marine ecology. This experience put into context all the things we have been learning and discussing regarding marine ecology for the past couple of days, making it an experience worth treasuring and fostering.