As many people know by now, the Tarpon Springs Chapter’s summer trip to the Bahamas got cut short by Tropical Storm Emily.  After our second day of diving on Wednesday, we all returned to our rooms to find notes on the door saying that our original departure date of Friday wasn’t going to work anymore.  The ship we were planning on taking home from the Bahamas had canceled its run on Friday in preparation for the tropical storm slowly making it’s way north from the Caribbean.
Our only options were to come home a day early (cutting out an entire day of diving!) or stay for a few extra days. Since we would have to pay for those extra days and none of us wanted to ride out a potential hurricane in the Bahamas, the chapter leaders opted to head home the next day.  We were all a little bummed but it was the only best choice.
Because we missed out on our third day of diving, we didn’t get to do our final rotation of surveys.  The three basic surveys we use look at fish, corals, and bottom types.  The buddy teams each focused on one of the survey methods for one day, using their multiple dives to ask questions and learn the details of the method.  The next day they’d switch to a new survey technique.  This way, the ‘nauts are able to learn each survey technique in-depth and experience all of them by the end of the trip.  Or at least that was the plan! Being familiar with 2 of the 3 surveys is still pretty good, and our science leaders will make sure everyone catches up on the one they missed.
On the ferry ride back to Florida, the ‘nauts sat down to take their post-trip assessment.  This is the same set of questions we gave them on the ride over, and many of the ‘nauts struggled to answer the questions.  We use the pre-trip assessments to check the current knowledge base of the ‘nauts and to show them what they’ll be learning over the course of the trip.  The post-trip assessments document how much they’ve learned in just a few days and allow us to show them their improvement.  We’re so busy diving on the trips, the kids don’t always have a chance to reflect their new knowledge.
All of the ‘nauts showed a lot of improvement on their tests, and we know they all had a great trip.  Even though we missed out on our last day of diving, we’re still thankful for the two beautiful days of diving we did get to experience.  Great dives sites, a great dive crew, and very spacious boat.  Thanks again to the Viva Wyndham resort and dive shop for helping us have a fantastic summer science expedition!

-Julie Galkiewicz
Chief Scientist, Tarpon Springs Chapter