The research station at Glovers Reef is almost energy independent. All of the water comes from captured rainwater or desalinated ocean water. There are solar panels to grab energy from the plentiful sunlight. And the toilets are composting, meaning that all of our waste can go to help create more food.

Of course, being energy independent doesn’t mean we’re allowed to freely waste water and power. Instead we’re all learning to conserve as much as possible. We use very little freshwater, except for drinking and rinsing some scientific equipment. Our showers are extremely quick, and they’re in brackish water. Showering in freshwater will be a much-appreciated luxury when we all return home.

Lights are used only sparingly at night, which works out for us. We’re all so tired from diving by the end of the day that going to bed soon after the sun sets is a welcome respite. There’s no a/c, a single washing machine, and no dryer (that’s what wind and clothes lines are for!).

It’s funny how quickly we’ve all adjusted to this new way of living. It’s not strange to walk to an outhouse to use the bathroom, or to sleep under a mosquito net. We’re finding cool, breezy places to hang out during the hottest part of the day, and the guys will tell anyone who asks that hammocks are the only way to sleep on a tropical island.

But while we all appreciate the simplicity of living like this, as well as how ecologically friendly it is, we are looking forward the returning to the comforts of home (including showers, ice-cold sodas, and clean clothes).

~Julie Galkiewicz, Education Officer, SNI Tarpon Springs Chapter