Yesterday morning I awoke to the soft voice of Jeff Melsheimer telling me that it was time to get up to get ready for breakfast. Glenson then shuttled us to the marina for breakfast in Casey’s office again. After breakfast we put our stuff on the boat and began loading our coral reef pieces onto the boat. In addition, we set up our dive equipment and prepared for a long day in the sun. With Sea Cat following and eventually leading the crusade, we traveled to Long Bay to the Jesuit Reef. Upon tying the boats together, Casey briefed us on how we would be setting the reef up. First we would be lowering the cinderblocks down to the sea floor where Casey and Laura would be removing them from the rope. Next, Jeff 2.0 talked to us about using lift bags. These bags are used in the transportation of heavy objects underwater by filling them with air until neutrally buoyant. Once neutrally buoyant, divers are capable of pushing the object through the water to the desired location. We then hopped in the water and with Buck Lyon as my dive buddy we began moving our cinderblocks to our artificial reef site. The site was 12 different designated areas about 20 feet apart where each MB2 diver would be putting his artificial reef. After moving all of the pieces into place, Buck Andy arranged our joint reef piece and secured it with zip-ties. We then surfaced and returned to the boat for a snack and briefing on the next dive. For the next dive, we were paired with an MB1 student who had spent the morning collecting coral fragments for replanting n our artificial reefs. Junior Austin Wallace dove with Buck and I to replant coral onto our artificial reef. Before diving, we received a clipboard on which we diagrammed our reefs and designated which dowel rods we would be replanting on, for next week’s all-MB1 class will replant on the remaining dowel rods. After completing the task in about 20 minutes, Buck and I remained under and swam around until out of air. During this time I held myself back from starting a sand fight as I reminisced of one with Jeff Melsheimer last year. Although I returned to the boat, others including Christian Koeijimans and Chris Wengierski took their fins off and ran on the sand patch underwater. For lunch we had some sanwiches and chips, and while eating un-athletic Jeff Melsheimer allowed his chips bag to fly into the water and was forced to jump in after it. Next, we cleaned up and went back to the marina where Glenson picked us up and took us back to Guavaberry to wash up for church. Arriving at St. Ursula’s we were greater by a tiny smiling priest from Quebec. A short and pleasant 20 minutes later mass was finished and we returned to Guavaberry for dinner and a night snorkel. As we hung out on the beach Jeff McNutt graciously cooked us up some delicious dogs and burgers that really hit the spot. Naturally, us teenagers scarfed then down, and after dinner we went on a night snorkel. Each buddy was given a flashlight and half the group was led by Casey while Caitlyn led the other group. As we followed Casey through the dark water she pointed our two squids that were attempting and camouflage by looking like leaves. We also saw an octopus and a huge lobster. We then arrived back at the Guavaberry beach and went to sleep.
Again I was awoken by Jeff’s voice, but this time it was a more anxious one as we were cutting it slightly closer on time. However, when we arrived at the Guavaberry commissary we realized that we had plenty of time, and when Casey arrived with breakfast we showed our appreciation for all of her hard work by helping her unload. After breakfast we set out on an exciting adventure: a Lionfish hunt. Although Casey would not be joining us for this dive, we would finally be going out with Mr. McNutt. When we arrived at our first destination and attempted to drop anchor, Jeff McNutt deemed the current too string and we packed up and headed for another spot called Mountain Point. This would be the spot of a Lionfish massacre. Splitting up into two groups, my dive buddy Gavin Patterson and I were in the group led by Jeff and Fernando, an SMU student training for his dive master certification. Searching for Lionfish, we came upon a brief sand patch with a small sunken dingy. As we looked inside our eyes lit up, 6 Lionfish sat unaware of the danger they were in. Jeff took the lead, shooting a Lionfish and placing it in a protective container. Next, he handed me the speargun and pointed at one of the smaller ones as if to say “Go get ’em ace.” I sniped the Lionfish in the head, ending his life for the better of the reef. Once back at the boat, we waited for the other group and held silent on how many we had bagged. The other group had killed 4, and last time I checked, 4 is less than six. Once back at he marina we built the suspense by first pouring out the other group’s Lionfish. Suddenly, Jeff looked at me and said, “Joe, I think I forgot something on the boat. Would you mind going and getting it for me?” I retrieved the contained, gave it to Jeff and after he poured it out we basked in our superiority. Then Jeff cut up the Lionfish, getting stung along the way, and we had chicken wraps for lunch on the dock. We got back to Guavaberry and now I am heading to the beach for some sun. What a great day to end the trip. This week has been an absolute blast and a privilege, one that I will never forget it!