Update! Pigeon Key featured RHS in their fall newsletter the Pigeon Key Fall Carrier 2018, read it here!
Post by: Anton Nieves
Class of 2020
On October 12, 2018, 19 of my fellow classmates and I, along with two wonderful marine science teachers set out on a trek to Pigeon Key eight hours away from our home base of Sarasota, Florida. This educational trip was composed in order to provide an out of classroom environment to further learn and better understand our Florida ecosystems, which in some cases are in dire need of assistance. Upon our arrival to the island of Pigeon key, a spec of green amongst a perpetual blue crucible, we immediately unpacked and suited up for our first snorkeling excursion around the island’s dock finding many strange and wonderful invertebrates. Pigeon Key itself is quite interesting as it harbors three of the four coastal ecosystems of the Florida Keys. Whilst snorkeling we were emerged in mangrove roots, seagrass beds, and the shallow hardbottom; each ecosystem had its own unique characteristics which were taught to us by the staff at Pigeon Key. As the day progressed, we ate a filling meal and retired to our cabins, which were kept in superb shape.
The next day (October 13, 2018) was the one I had waited for and at the crack of dawn we all emerged grudgingly from our cabins tired from the previous day of traveling and exploring. Today we were to visit the fourth and final coastal ecosystem of the Florida Keys: the coral reef. After some much needed breakfast and a 30 minute boat ride we arrived at Sombrero Reef. During my wait at the precipice of the boat for the signal to dive in, I experienced a sense of anxiousness and upon my leap over the side I felt a sudden rush of water which caused a commotion of bubbles. As the smokescreen faded, a bustling city emerged filled with all matters of weird and wonderful shapes. The previous day we had the pleasure of learning reef fish identification and thanks to the wonderful educators of Pigeon Key as well Mrs. Karasick and Mrs. Rudge I was confident in my analysis of many of the species. After this dive we went tide pooling and discovered one of the oceans most interesting inhabitants: an octopus. Upon the day’s close, we listened to a lecture on sharks and had the opportunity to dissect one, which provided a wonderful hands on experience. Throughout the weekend I became good friends with all of my peers and will share many fond memories of the knowledge we learned and the experiences we received.