Thursday, April 19, 2012

Snorkeling at Karimunjawa

This past weekend I had the opportunity to chaperone the Advanced Biology class to a little place called Karimunjawa.  This trip gave me a chance to get to know some of the students a little better which was an opportunity I was grateful for.  Not sure who had more fun though... the students... or me!

So the trip was a weekend field trip for the marine biology portion of the class, and I am pretty sure that the students knew more about marine biology than I did since there isn't a great need for marine biology in Kentucky.  None the less my few weeks of marine biology in college paid off as I could easily identify the fishes from the coral... oh and I knew the sharks the one time I got to swim with them!

So what was my first snorkeling experience like? Well I am glad you asked!

I was super excited because this was something that I have always been curious about and even the three hour boat ride out to the islands with people all around me getting sea sick didn't hamper this.  Since we would be spending the weekend snorkeling we needed somewhere to stay Saturday night and Sunday night.  We first headed to the island of Menjangan Kecil, which was a tiny island where we stayed in bungalows with no electricity (well unless the generators were running at night).
That first evening was spent exploring the coral around this small island.  Now I had been to the ocean before and I have swam... swum... swimmed (what exactly is the right word here... and mom stop rolling your eyes) in it, but nothing was like this first plunge into the crystal clear water off this tiny island.  I jumped off the boat into warm bath water only instead of rubber duckies and battleships floating around it looked more like someone had spilled a bazillion skittles bags (regular and tropical) into the water and upon contact they all came to life.  I was completely awestruck at the color and life I saw before me.  It wasn't until I started choking that I realized my mouth was gaping open and sea water was pouring in around my snorkel.   The whole experience was much like something you would see on a Discovery Channel episode about the ocean, only it was real life and I could touch the coral, feel the warm water,  taste the salt, see the fish trying to figure out what I was, and hear my skin screaming "NO MORE SUN!!"  (I was roasted, toasted, and burnt to a crisp even with multiple good slatherings of sunscreen.)

Did I mention the beautiful sunset that we enjoyed from the backside of the island?


The second night was spent on the larger island of Karimunjawa which was equally as beautiful.  This was the view we had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Speaking of breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you like to eat fresh fish and rice then this is the place to go!  I think we had some kind of grilled fish for every meal we ate over the weekend.

Ok so enough with the flowery, reminiscent, sentimental stuff and the pictures... what did I actually see?

Well there is really no way to describe the numbers or various types of fishes I saw, that alone was mind blowing! I did see some types that you may recognize such as a flounder, the feared and venomous lionfish, a bunch of parrotfish, and oh I can't leave Nemo out!  Yup we actually saw him and his family in their little anemone house.  We also saw a lot of other things that weren't actually fish, things like sea slugs, sea cucumbers, multiple types of starfish (such as the green pincushion), a couple blue spotted stingrays, and some squid.  Sorry I don't have any actual pictures of these things, but there were two people with underwater cameras so I will see if I can get some of their pics and put them up as soon as possible. 

* Since I didn't have any underwater pics I just linked the google images page for some of the different things we saw.  Granted we didn't see every type that is on these pages, but at least you will have some idea of the types of things we were able to experience first hand.

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