GEOL 375 -- Bahamian Field Study
Field Activities and Photo Links

The following is from a previous Geology 375 trip to the Bahamas. This will give you some idea of what to expect. However, each trip is unique in the places visited and the experiences. In the trip described here, there were 19 students and 3 instructors. We swam with the fish, rolled with the ooids, learned the longshore shuffle, and survived the mud walk (the highlight of the trip for some participants -- really!).

We stayed at Forfar Field Station on Andros Island. All of the staff at Forfar were fantastic. The food was great!


The daily activities are described below. Click on the links for photos. If you want to skip the descriptions, click here to go directly to a list of the photos.

Saturday, May 17

    • Flight to Andros Island – We had a pleasant and scenic flight to Andros Island after some delays leaving the Ft. Lauderdale airport. The taxi ride from the airport to the field station was quite exciting, especially since traffic moves on the left side of the road in the Bahamas.
    • Forfar Field Station – This is where we made our home while on Andros Island. After arriving at Forfar, we explored the area near the field station including the adjacent beach and tidal flats. Some did a practice snorkel, and others played beach volleyball. Forfar is owned and operated by International Field Studies, which is an educational and non-profit organization.

Sunday, May 18

    • Pentecostal Church – Optional activities for Sunday morning included attending a Bahamian church, exploring the beach at Forfar, or sleeping in. Most of us decided to attend the local Pentecostal church, which provided an interesting cultural and spiritual experience.
    • Coconut Grove – After lunch, we headed to Coconut Grove for a reef snorkel. From shore we snorkeled across the back-reef area, through a gap between two patch reefs, and on to the outer reef. We observed abundant and beautiful sea life in this area. We also did a night snorkel at this location (on another day) and saw a shark.

Monday, May 19

    • Staniard Rock – This was an excellent snorkel of the Andros barrier reef crest. We took a lot of underwater photos here. The corals and fish were spectacular! As we snorkeled, we observed outstanding examples of bedforms (ripples and dunes) on the seafloor of the backreef area.
    • South Pass – This area provided a great snorkel of the outer reef. Several reef subenvironments (and various reef life) were present within an easy snorkeling distance.
    • Pigeon Cay – Here we explored various features of this cay and the back-reef area including: sediment trapping sea-grass; rocky intertidal zone with urchins, barnacles, and other organisms grazing on algae; Pleistocene dunes; and structural joints in the beachrock. Some people enjoyed eating the fresh, local seafood (yum -- see photos).
    • Calabash Cay – We snorkeled the mangroves here, which gave us a look at some different sea life. Young tropical fish live among the mangroves, which provide protection from predators. We looked for baby seahorses, but didn't see any. Some people thought they saw "sea snakes," but found out that they were actually seeing eels, which were very shy and not dangerous.

Tuesday, May 20

    • Red Bays Tidal Flats – This is where we did the infamous mud walk and was the favorite experience of the entire trip for some students. After leaving the road (and civilization), we began our trek by walking through sawgrass and across very crusty microbial mats of the supratidal flat ("ouch, crunch"). This provided an outstanding look at the origin of microbially produced lamination in carbonate sediment. As we gradually moved from the land toward the sea, we encountered shallow water of the intertidal area and began walking through algal-produced lime mud ("squish, squish"). Some of the sediment here consists of peloids excreted by invertebrates, such as gastropods, that live in the tidal flat environment. We especially enjoyed crossing a broad, shallow intertidal creek and experiencing the mud. The mud ate John's sandal. Nothing can quite equal (or describe) the mud experience. You gotta be there.
    • Charlie’s Blue Hole – After the mud walk, we washed off in the fresh water of Charlie's Blue Hole. The blue holes of Andros have formed by collapse of cave ceilings. They are fun places to jump in and swim (or just splash around). Charlie's Blue Hole is 70-feet deep and has cave-like pockets around the edges.

Wednesday, May 21

    • Joulter’s Cays Joulters is an area of ooid shoals, bars, and flats on the windward-facing margin of Andros. This is a very special place because it's one of only 3 places in the world with active ooid creation and deposition. We drifted (as we snorkeled) along with the current in a tidal channel and observed subtidal migrating dunes and ripples in ooid sand of the seafloor. We also explored the broad intertidal areas and examined the various bedforms. This is a good area for comparing modern processes with sedimentary structures preserved in the Pleistocene rock forming the cays.
    • Morgan's Bluff – This is the highest point on Andros Island, and caves are accessible here. We learned about the history of Andros, including the pirates.
    • Charlie’s Blue Hole – We had another swim in this blue hole. It's a great place!

Thursday, May 22

    • Rat Cay Blue Hole – This is a spectacular oceanic blue hole, with a lot of fish and finger coral. Many of us snorkeled all the way around Rat Cay.
    • Saddleback Cay – We enjoyed exploring this cay, especially the very extensive intertidal sand flat. Ripples and numerous sand dollars were present on the sand flat. Most of the sediment here consists of coral and algal debris from the reef. We had planned to also snorkel the Three Rivers Patch Reef, but didn't because of an approaching storm.

Friday, May 23

    • Fresh Creek – We visited the Androsia batik factory and outlet store in the community of Fresh Creek. We also walked around the town and did some shopping.
    • Somerset Beach – This was a great place to study beach processes, such as longshore drift. We learned a new step called the "longshore shuffle", which simulates beach processes. Somerset is a beautiful beach that stretches for several miles.
    • Church’s Blue Hole – This is the largest blue hole on Andros -- 440 feet across. It's a great place to jump in with a 15-foot drop into the fresh water.
    • Sundial Beach – We visited Sundial Beach at low tide to observe the tidal pools. We saw a variety of invertebrates.

Saturday, May 24

    • Flight to Ft. Lauderdale – After a great week experiencing Andros Island, we returned to Ft. Lauderdale and began our drive back to Clemson.


Go to GEOL 375 homepage for more information about the Bahamas field course

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This page was last updated on October 19, 2010. Maintained by Dr. James Castle.