Kosrae, FSM is a dream location for field work in the natural sciences. It is hot, muggy, tropical, beautiful, and there are not a lot of things living on the land that can kill you (I don’t think that I can say the same for the water, though). With the population remaining small over the past several thousand years, the islands ecosystems are rich and pristine.
While there, I got to participate in several ecological surveys, my favorite of which being the coral reef surveys. We got the opportunity to hold our classroom out in the water near a place called the ‘blue hole’, where we snorkeled around with clip-boards taking notes on coral identification. It was fairly difficult not to get distracted by all of the fish and the occasional sting ray, but I learned tons nonetheless.
We also got to learn about mangrove ecosystems, which involved hiking through mud (at some points waist deep) from inland to the coast. The trees were gorgeous as many were very old, and their importance to the islander’s traditional and current way of life were never understated.
In our official ‘off time’ we got the chance to explore the island a little bit more. I was excited to get to scuba dive on three occasions, and I even got to call (friendly) sharks to me on my last day there while snorkeling. I got to enjoy kayaking up one of the island’s rivers while watching the giant fruit bats (flying foxes) swoop around at dusk. The island was so dark at night, something I am not used to anymore, that I even got to see some stars (but watch out for the crabs after sunfall!). Overall, this little island inspired me both to continue to pursue my chosen career path and to keep finding ways to explore the world and to meet unforgettable people along the way.