Cooper Island Adventure (ಠ_ಠ)


This morning I was woken up at 6am by screeching chickens, yay. I promptly fell asleep right after that however, and was woken up by Doc an hour later. Andrew, Julian, and I got ready and walked down to the cattle guard to wait for everyone else to arrive. We all got on the taxi and headed toward the marina, where we had breakfast and were debriefed in Casey’s office. I had an orange, coco puffs, a donut, and apple juice. Marine II kids piled onto the Sea Dragon and we took off towards Cooper Island while listening to a playlist of Passion Pit and other bands. We anchored off the coast of Cooper Island in an area called Shallow Chromis due to the large number of Blue Chromis fish that live in the area. I assembled my gear and did all the buddy checks with Julian. We jumped in after Laura and swam about 150 yards on the surface of the water against the current (I’m pretty strong, I know). We descend into a different area called Deep Chromis about 80 to 90 feet down. This part is also known as Wreck Alley, because there are 4 wrecked ships down there. On the way over to the first ship (the Biata), we all saw a stingray hovering around the coral. There are tons of tiny organisms in Deep Chromis such as trunk fish and garden eel, but they’re easily scared off so I couldn’t photograph them. Laura led us past the ship into another section of Deep Chromis where there are 3 other wrecked ships (the Island Seal, Pat, and the Mariel), which were all really interesting. I had my new underwater camera with me and Julian and I took some baller pics with it. We all swam back to the boat under the surface, where we got to see different species of fish and stationary marine life. We ascended to the top, took an hour long decompression break, were debriefed and then dove right back into the water. This time around we dove Shallow Chromis and used weighted lines to measure the live coral coverage in the area. Julian and I were in a team – Julian laid out the line and photographed the coral while I measured and documented lengths of alive, dead, and bleached coral along the transect. This only took about 5 minutes and then we had the rest of the time to mess around underwater with our sweet cameras. I took about 120 pictures but only kept 40 of them because I basically suck at photography underwater. I did, however, take an amazing picture of a flamingo tongue (type of mollusk) which Julian pointed out to me through incredibly hard to understand semi-sign language underwater. For about 40 minutes he and I swam around each other taking pictures of the different species of fish and sea star, trying to get at least one good picture to bring back to the blog. At some point I swam up underneath the boat and came within at least 4 feet of a large yellow-tailed snapper, which I also got a good picture of. When I had looked up after a long session of crappy photography, everyone besides Julian and I had gone up to the boat. We finally ascended and got back on the boat. After this dive we went to Cooper Island and docked in the bay for about 45 minutes (we saw a gigantic sting ray during the wait for our docking spot). At the resort restaurant we ate delicious fish and chips and had a coke while talking with Caitlyn about all our interesting experiences of that day. My cabin buddies and I tried the macro-focus setting on our cameras (pointed out by Caitlyn), and we took pictures of really small stuff on Cooper Island. We piled on the boat again and headed to the Marina where Casey told us how and what to do for our coral replanting session tomorrow. We were all supposed to design an artificial reef structure made of cinderblocks and concrete that would provide an adequate place for both coral and fish species to interact. After we had our designs down, we met the Dive BVI engineer, Mr. Singh, who made most of our concrete for the project. After Mr. Singh left, Mr. Kirby, Jeff, Tucker, and I made a batch of concrete, which filled some of the other blocks. After the blocks were filled, we stuck 6 inch dowel rods into the wet concrete (the rod that the coral will be zip-tied to tomorrow) and let them dry overnight. After the long day of moving cinderblocks and filling blocks in with concrete, we piled onto Glen’s taxi and drove back to Guavaberry for a quick shower and change of clothing. We all came down and walked to Mad Dogs again (for the last time unfortunately) for a delicious nacho and quesadilla dinner. The dinner was brief but Laura filled our dive books out, and Julian, Andrew, Jeff Sr., Jefff Jr. and I all had a photo sharing session. Jeff gave a nice speech about our time at Mad Dogs to Inga and we all took a picture in the kitchen. We walked home and WROTE OUR BLOGS. The trip is almost over but I’m having an awesome time.

The Biata

East Indian Sea Egg

Julian on Cooper Island

The beautiful flamingo tongue photo

View from Cooper Island Resort

Yellow-tailed snapper