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.

Posted by Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is an award winning marine conservation charity. We rebuild tropical fisheries with coastal communities. On our Beyond Conservation blog you can hear voices from the front line of marine conservation written by our staff and volunteers.

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