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Life on an Island

Posted by: | August 13, 2009 | 4 Comments |

The Perry Institute for Marine Science is located on a skinny piece of land just 3 miles long called Lee Stocking Island (LSI). There are no hotels, no stores, no coffee shops.  The nearest civilization is on Great Exuma about a 20 minute boat ride away. 

There are some tricks to living on an island.  Most are challenges you don’t even think about until you’re surrounded by all that water. Here are some random things I’ve noticed and consequently some new habits I’ve developed.

Fine Dining

All food on the island is ordered from SYSCO, a company most school cafeterias order from .  Fresh fruits and vegetables are brought in every couple weeks by boat and non perishables are ordered in bulk at the beginning of the summer.  When I say bulk, I don’t mean your average Costco pack.  I’m talkin enough cereal, maple syrup, and hot sauce to last an entire summer. 

What this means for those of us living on the island:

First, there will always be two choices of cereal: cheerios and rice crispies…ALWAYS. I’ve found that it helps to get creative with your food.  Mixing cereals, adding granola or peanut butter for flavor and crunch, even hot sauce are all good ways to change the same ole thing into something new and exciting.  (To clear things up, I do not put hot sauce on my cereal.  However, I did whitness someone eating a banana doused in hot sauce one morning )

Second, the fake milk will always contain small, round, flubbery chunks at the bottom of every carton.  Avoiding this is simple.  If you notice the milk carton is getting low, simply allow the person behind you to cut in line. Its a win, win.  You look like a nice person and they get to suffer through the flubbery chunks, not you. : D

Lastly, fresh fruit is rare on the island.  Get it while you can; even if it means being overly helpful and nice to the cook.

Sleeping Arrangements

The room I’m staying in is very nice; much bigger than any dorm room.  There are two bunks, one on each side of the room along with a dresser and shelf in the center.  When I first arrived, I was told I had the room all to myself.  However, I later found this wasn’t completely true. 

I currently have three roommates.  The giant moth in the dresser that likes to flutter out on occasion when I forget which drawer he’s hiding in.  The cockroach on my pillow who enjoys tickling my ear while whispering bedtime stories each night. And the gigantic spider, with whom I made a deal:  he gets one half of the room, while I get the other.


When on an island, it is practically guaranteed you are going to run into some repetition.  You see the same people at dinner every night, walk under the same coconut tree on your way to breakfast, almost step on that same lizard living on the third step.  It’s important to break routine now and again, just to keep from going crazy.  Well maybe not crazy, I exaggerate a little.

Playing card games, reading books, and watching every episode of Family Guy have been my main forms of entertainment.  Some days I even resort to making beaded bracelets like I used to in 4th grade.  Whatever it is, finding YOU time after a long day of work is both relaxing and necessary.

I decided to write this post mainly to give a better insight into what island life can really be like.  Some days are challenging being so far away from the people you love.  Missing birthdays, holidays, and other event have been difficult.  After living on this island for 3 months, I think I will have learned to appreciate some of the small things.

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  1. By: Robynne Sherwood on August 31, 2009 at 1:07 pm      

    You write so well. your musings make me feel as if I’m there. It reminds us so much of living on Lizard Island 25 years ago!

    I made the mistake of reading some of your blogs to David. He was very impressed with your research and of course of the lifestyle that goes with diving as your vocation!

    Keep the blogs coming, we are really fascinated with it all – who would’ve thought the lionfish we loved to see in the Pacific would become such a pest for you over here?

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