During the summer of 2015, I joined a program (Art & Bio Collaborative) that allowed me to travel to Puerto Rico to do artistic biological field studies. This experience was so profound and full of activities that explaining the entire program in one post just isn’t possible, thus this one is going to focus on my experiences in the Puerto Rican beaches: Cabo Rojo, Mar Chiquita, Cayo Icacos, and Cabezas lagoon!

Mar Chiquita was in walking distance from the house we were all staying in, which made it easily accessible and a repeated visit! Towards the beginning of the program, we explored the beach and attempted to do some drawing activities, which allowed me to look at what was around me in detail. The water had sea urchins all over the place and we even found a squid! We were able to get a close enough look where we were able to observe its chromatophores. These are the spots that allow them to change color for camouflage through natural electric pulses.

The area around this beach is also filled with shallow caves, unique structures that were crumbling, and TONS of porous rocks that were caused by the splashing erosion of the ocean. It was a beautiful location and a great place to independently explore.

We also spent time drawing the beautiful cliffs of Cabo Rojo, which reached out over the beautiful bright blue ocean. It was very windy here and we didn’t get to spend a huge amount of time due to other scheduled activities, but it was certainly a breathtaking view.

Thirdly, there was Cayo Icacos!! We took a speed boat to this island which was filled with people swimming and enjoying the beautiful tropic area. The island was hot and sunscreen was a necessity, but the water was so clear that you could easily see the tropical fish around you! I spent most of my time swimming and collecting pebbles and our group worked together to snorkel and create island eco art.

After we returned to the mainland from the island, we kayaked through Cabezas lagoon at night. To get to the lagoon, we had to begin by kayaking through the ocean, and the lagoon itself was full of mangroves and bioluminescent water. I felt as though I was floating through this magical twinkling water with thousands of beautiful stars above me. If you have ever seen the movie “Avatar” with the blue Navi natives, it was similar to how the plants would glow in the dark whenever they were touched… but this was real life and absolutely stunning!!! (Unfortunately, because I was in a kayak and it was dark, I was unable to photograph this experience!!!)

This entire post couldn’t even begin to do this trip the true justice of the profound experience I’d had! Be prepared for Part 3, Puerto Rico: The Deserts!!!