On May 23, 17 Eastern undergraduate biology students traveled to the Gerace Research Center on San Salvador Island, the outermost island in the Bahamas, for an 11-day study tour of marine and terrestrial environments. San Salvador's flora and fauna include both native and introduced species, making the island a natural laboratory for studying island biogeography.
Marine studies focused on coral reef, sea grass bed, mangrove, beach and rocky shore communities. The students studied everything from terrestrial plants to important animals in the patch and barrier reefs, learning different water conservation techniques that plants use; adaptations of different animals to harsh environments; and the importance of healthy corals in the ocean's vast ecosystem. Major activities included snorkeling in two different coves and studying corals; swimming out to and hiking on a local cay; and climbing down into caves to get a better view of how the island was formed. Each evening, students attended a lecture where they discussed and identified all the organisms they discovered that day, updated their daily observations and shared their transect datum.