Train of Thought Interrupted
At 6:30 I woke up; silently I listened to tropical birds and stared at the mosquito net that was spread above my bed, wondering why I, of all the people in the world, got to be in this magnificent place. Eventually, my roommates’ nagging prompted me to finally get out of my bed and stop that train of thought. So, I walked out onto our wooden balcony, where I got to witness the beautiful, majestic view. Soon, I had to leave that comfortable setting too, and I prepared for the two dives we had planned that day.
Less than Favorable
Dive one was at a location named La Grupera. Markus and Vivian took fish surveys, while Emma, Trent, and I took benthic transects. The conditions were what one would consider “less than favorable.” It was windy, the boat was rocking, I was seasick, my mask strap came undone, my writing slate broke in two, I dropped my data sheet, I was underweighted, my lower tank strap was unconnected, and I was precariously juggling the rest of my momentarily-undestroyed science equipment. Despite the “less than favorable” circumstances, I did as all SCUBAnauts do: I pushed through the first unfavorable five minutes so I could witness the amazing feeling that comes with contributing to necessary research.
Dive 2: Lumber Key
The second dive was at a calmer location called Lumber Key. We each completed the same data collection as the first dive; however, this dive went smoother and was altogether more enjoyable.
Back to the Classroom, In and Out of Water
Once we returned to the resort, we sat in on a lesson taught by New College University’s marine biology professor, Dr. Sandra Gilchrist. First, we listened as she lectured on data collection strategies. Then, we got into the water to physically execute the lesson we had learned.
After the lesson concluded, we snorkeled around an on-site reef, playing with sea urchins and watching giant stingrays glide by. Then, we moved on, pushing our fellow SCUBAnauts off their paddle boards, which necessarily lead to a head stand competition.
After a clear winner was declared, Trent, Vivian, Markus, and I decided to explore the island. So, we took our paddle boards, and we traveled to the corner of the island to investigate. We found a magical alcove, whirlpools brimming with life, an octopus, and a beached coral sample we brought with us back to the resort.
Eagle Rays for a Visit
That night we sat along the docks, shining flashlights into the water to try to attract plankton, which in turn attracted eagle rays. Out of all this activity, my favorite part was finding the octopus in the tidepools.