Members of the Morehead City, NC Chapter traveled to Aruba over spring break
this year to collaborate with ScubbleBubbles, another youth organization based on the island. This trip was the first of its kind for SCUBAnauts, and planning it during a pandemic was not without challenges! Overall, the trip was a success with eight Nauts completing 11 dives, including 80 corals outplanted back to the reefs and 6 lionfish culled.
Nauts also learned a new type of benthic monitoring from their ScubbleBubble peers where photos and videos were used to identify species rather than in situ (real time, in-water identification) surveys. This is something we will be able to apply back in the States as well. Each day, one or two Nauts took time out to help tell their story!
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Author: Janelle Fleming, Morehead City Chapter Dive Safety Officer
Who would have guessed that international travel could have been so…arduous! Um…everyone?!?! Well, to be honest, travel, in general, can be hard on its own. Now, add to it the fact that we have multiple SCUBAnauts and multiple families traveling together and during a pandemic, we have the recipe for excitement in the planning stage!
In order to travel out of the United States, we need to have negative COVID tests…No problem, right? Right! We can go to the local drugstore and get a rapid test. BOOM! Sure. However, we need to have a specific test that can be accepted by the country of Aruba. Okay…no problem…or BIG problem! In our little town, we don’t offer the “rapid molecular test” unless you are about to go into surgery. So, our little family spent half of Tuesday running from hither to thither to try and get an appropriate test. Many swabs later, we have negative test results (yeah!), but not the correct molecular test! Yikes! Cue the local doctors that come to the rescue and with another couple of swabs, we have 2 of the required negative tests! All I can say is “PHEW!” I hope this trip is worth all of those painful nose injections! I know it will be because of the science and the collaborations!
Friday, March 12, 2021
Author: Lilly R., Naut-in-Training
Hi this is Lilly! This was my first time flying on a plane and I can tell you I was stressed. My initial thought was that I was going to be sad this whole trip because of my family not joining, but now that I’m here, I am just going to enjoy it. We arrived at the New Bern airport at around 3:30 and boarded the plane at around 4:45. We stayed in the Charlotte airport for about 3 hours before we got in that plane at 9:30 and arrived in Aruba at around 2:00. Other than driving around for 2 ½ hours trying to find our AirBnb, I’d say today has been pretty good and I will definitely be enjoying that pool! Huge thank you to Ms. Fleming who looked after me all the way here. I appreciate everything you do for SCUBAnauts and thank you for setting up this wonderful trip!
Saturday March 13, 2021
Author: Gerrit R., Naut-in-Training
Mornings, oh wonderful mornings. Waking up to the smell of crisp bacon and
steamy fresh eggs makes a day all the better. Today was our first day of the SCUBAnuats trip that we began diving. At a sharp 8 a.m. (or around that time) we all piled into the 12-person van (pretty tight fit with all the gear too!) to the beginning of our adventure. Today was an exciting experience.
We were able to dive 4 times, which was pretty tiring, but thrilling as well. Our second dive of the day at Mangel Halto we were able to practice lionfish hunting on potatoes. It was my first time doing such a thing, but I’m glad I did so that I hopefully will not miss any when we get to target real lionfish later this week. Lionfish are an invasive species in the Caribbean and Atlantic, so many places have efforts for divers to hunt and remove them.
Probably one of my favorite dives that I’ve done in my life was our 3rd dive of the day, when we dove to 83 feet (the deepest I have ever been) with beautiful visibility. The location we did it at was called “hole in the wall,” but much to my surprise, it was not a circular hole in the middle of the wall, but a gap between a sea wall…it still counts. Overall, it was an amazing day and I’m looking forward with great expectation to our future dives, and the new things I will learn!
Sunday March 14, 2021
Author: Bella R., Naut-in-Training
After yesterday’s amazing dives, we woke up to another 8 O’clock dive. We climbed into the van, along with our diving gear and yesterday’s sunburns. Joining the other SucbbleBubbles, we set out spearing lionfish and completing transect dives. I really enjoyed lionfish spearing. At first, I was nervous to try it, but in the end I had a fun time. Along with the lionfish, the waters were filled with some exotic and beautiful fish. After coming home and chilling a little bit, I did a night dive. Even though it was a bit cold, I got to see some pretty cool bioluminescence and an octopus. Overall, today has been great except for the sunburns.
Author: Sammy B., Naut-in-Training
Oh man my neck is smoked! Ouch. Well, I know for certain yesterday was definitely worth it. On to today. Today’s agenda had three planned dives. The first, a morning dive at a place called “Hole in the Wall.” Here we all went to try our hand for the first time at pole-spearing some Pterois volitans, or the very invasive red lionfish. I thought I did pretty well. I speared two lionfish, which I guess isn’t bad for a first-timer.
The second dive on the agenda was at a place called Santo Largo, an awesome shore dive and a great leg workout as well. Here we joined the ScubbleBubbles and witnessed how they perform their transects and quadrats and then did our own the same way they did, just to get a feel for their methodology.
Then there was the third and final dive. A night dive at “Hole in the Wall” to go out and spear some more lionfish as well as get another night dive under a few of us SCUBAnauts belts. This dive, I had two dive buddies and we all worked together and all went according to plan. Everything except for the fact we didn’t actually spear a lionfish, we found one, but it swam deeper into a crack and we couldn’t get to it, then we simply could not find any, but that’s probably because a massive hunt had taken place prior to our arrival. I suspect everyone will sleep great tonight after a day of diving, spearing, and surveying.
Monday March 15, 2021
Author: Daniel R., Naut-in-Training
Today we went to De Palm Island with two dives planned. The first dive we split into two groups. One group went to the coral nursery and the other group went lionfish hunting. The coral nursery group cleaned coral trees while the lionfish hunting group looked for lionfish. Unfortunately, they were not able to find any of the lion fish hiding in their lairs. After the first dive, we surfaced and ate lunch and then went back in with groups switched. The lionfish hunting group saw two fish, but were not able to get either. Even though we didn’t get any fish, we were still were able to enjoy the beauty of the reef!