A poem by Naomi Lucas, Blue Ventures Medic, Sarteneja, Belize
Welcome to the Benthic Test
A sea of colours, shapes and crests
Urchins, sponges, coral and algae
Tunicates, ‘trolls hair’ and the cowrie
Starting with soft coral whips and rods
I start to think I can beat the odds
‘Plumes’ and ‘fans’ all simple enough
Yet after this, the going gets tough
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
And hard coral species come ever flowing
‘Porites’, ‘acroporia’ and ‘favidae’
All their names so difficult to say.
I decide common names are easier to muster,
Yet ‘fingers’ and ‘pencils’ get me into a fluster!
‘Boulder’, ‘mountainous’ and ‘knobby’ brain,
Under the water, they all seem the same.
Our lovely scientists are Jen and Nikkita
Enthusiastic, patient and both great teachers
We learn about polps and ID hints
Septa, mouths and family links
The other volunteers have some helpful tips
“Look for the ridges and the luscious lips”
I continue to struggle with all of the names
Yet am helped by our scientists and coral games
The day of the test has finally arrived
And as we descend, my fears subside
Armed with my slate and pencil in hand
I’m ready to respond to Nikkita’s demands!
Top student, Clara, gets a perfect score
But as we go on, I forget a few more
I turn to Dan a few metres away
But he’s now mesmerised by an eagle-ray
I stop to watch her majestic flight
Passing the test now out of my sight
Although unsuccessful, what a great dive!
But to conquer coral, I continue to strive.