Fourth day in the bag! Today started off with our deepest dive, going down to 100 feet underwater! It was a super cool experience to see so much life in that space, both coral and fish. Super noteworthy fish that I saw today were lionfish and barracuda. Today was the first time I saw a barracuda, and I actually saw two! They were bigger than I expected, but I was able to identify it due to its long, thin shape, its vague stripes, and its large jaw with loads of sharp teeth. I can see why they are considered dangerous! I decided to look into the species a little more today. One thing that I discovered that contrast what I saw yesterday with the small schools of fish was that barracuda tend to live isolated from other barracuda when they are adults. They are competitive predators and often compete over their food. This explains why the two barracuda I saw were in different spots completely and at different times. I also haven’t necessarily heard of a school of barracuda!
Later in the day, we took a trip to a separate diving site of Stingray City. This was an extremely interesting experience and was a lot more pleasant than, say, the turtle center. I was anxious to see this after the unethical practices of the turtle center and the discussion we had about whether or not Stingray City itself was ethical. However, after arriving and experiencing it, that particular site we went to was much more morally upstanding than I had anticipated. While there are still certain problems that may arise from it, they are very minimal and present a safe environment for stingrays to thrive. The big thing for me was to see the clearer and cleaner water and the fact that it was completely open to the water. In fact, despite the free food and contact with humans, we saw a couple of rays leave the rest a few minutes into the trip. This reinforces my standing with that particular site as a much more safe and natural environment for rays to live.
Finally, we ended the night with a documentary about Dr. Sylvia Earle and her mission to save the oceans. This was super interesting and inspiring because it showed the detrimental effects humans have had on oceanic environments, while also showing potential for action and protection of the same environments. Overall, it ties into the experience that I have had so far around life in the ocean and how important it is to us. Super eventful day today and I can’t wait for to tomorrow’s dives!