Coral Transplanting and the Rhone Dive: Day 4 and 5


Today was another fantastic day in the BVI. We went to bed around 10:30 and slept in until around 7:15. We made coffee me got our bag ready for another long but extremely fun day. Glenn picked us up around 7:45 and we headed straight to the Marina. Once we pulled up Casey was waiting the for us with a smile on her face (a very friendly and welcoming smile as usual) and another great breakfast. We ate some fruit, yogurt, etc. and then we got the boats ready for two dives. We had to bring two air tanks instead of one which is what we usually bring. After getting the boat ready we shoved off and headed for our dive site. Casey was driving our boat for the first time today; up to now only Jeffs had been driving it. It was a nice ride there with the wind blowing on us. Once we got there Casey let us go snorkeling for around 30 min to go look for staghorn coral that would be a good candidate for transplanting. On this snorkel my group found multiple candidates and we got to see an eel which was very cool. We then came back to the boat and Casey gave us a short talk about what we were going to be doing next. She showed us how to properly pick, break, and transport the coral so that we don’t damage it any more than it already is. My group along with our leader Caitlin went off and found some great pieces of staghorn relatively quickly. We put them in a small plastic bucket and dropped them off by the floating ring on the surface. For the rest of the dive time Caitlin took us around the reef and showed us how to blow rings of air under water. This was really cool watching them float to the surface. After the time was up we headed back to the boats for lunch. We made turkey sandwiches with chips and a drink. After we talked and rested for a while we changed our air tanks out and got our scuba equipment ready for the most important dive of the day. Sam, Tom, and I were assigned station 8 and we had to attach 4 pieces of coral using a peg and two zip ties. Casey on the boat had demonstrated the proper technique and method before we went. Each of us got to attach one piece of staghorn coral and we had to record its data. We measured it lengths, size, width, number of tips, etc. before we fastened them down onto the peg. This was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Keeping a neutral buoyancy was not difficult but I felt as if there was a small current that kept pushing me away from the cylinders. With a little struggle and some close calls however we got all of the coral attached successfully without damaging any of the surrounding coral. This was a big success to us. After this we had one more job to complete before we could head back to the boat. There was a school transplanting area in the center of the smaller stations and each person got to attach one piece to it. After a little waiting it was finally my turn. Mr. Waits was recording the measurements and collecting data while we were attaching the piece. For some reason it was more difficult with this piece of coral but in the end I got it on successfully and then we got to head back to the boat. While swimming back Sam decided to go up while Tom and I were looking around a little more. We were having a good time below and we didn’t even noticed that everyone else had already headed up so once we got up we were the last to get into the boat. We weren’t late or anything so it was all good. We got back onto the boat, dried off, and got ready to head back to the marina. There was rain in the distance so Casey had told us to hurry cleaning the boat off. We arrived at the Marina and got everything off in plenty of time. Glenn came to pick us up and take us to Guavaberry. We got showed and then had some free time before mass to shower and clean up. After we showered Riley and I went to go get some of the local fruit called sour sop. This green fruit has little soft spikes on it and has a white inside. It taste like a sweet pineapple and has the same texture (it tastes amazing!). We then went to mass at the top of a hill with a very small old priest who was very friendly and welcoming. There was another group jointing us to celebrate a 50 year marriage. After mass we changed and headed to the beach to grill out and later on a night snorkel. We had hamburgers and hotdogs and played frisbee until it got really dark. Once it was dark we got our flashlights and went out into the dark ocean in search of new creatures. We saw squids, sting rays, parrotfish covered in mucus, etc. this was a ton or fun and then we headed back to our cabins to go to sleep. ***DAY 5 STARTS HERE***I got a ton of sleep last night. After a very long day I was exhausted. I slept in a little today so i didn’t have any time to make coffee as I usually do. This was a very slow and gloomy morning just because I was so tired but as soon as we walked to the cattleguard I was wide awake. Glenn picked us up and we headed straight to the marina. Casey again had a fantastic breakfast waiting for us outside the dive shop. We ate for a few minutes and then we got everything ready for the day. We had to get two tanks again because we needed them both since this was a deeper dive. We took a nice ride out to the Salt Island with Casey driving the boat again. The ride was about 20 minutes and it was nice just taking in the very pretty scenery. Once we got there Casey gave us some information about the dive site and showed us a map of the wreckage. After this short briefing we got our tanks ready to go and jumped on in. There was a current so we had to hold onto the rope rather tight. Once everyone got into the water water Caitlin gave us our final instructions and then we slowly descended down into the crystal clear water below. Once we got to the bottom I was amazed to see my first lion fish just sitting there only feet away from me. This fish is beautiful when its under the water in its natural habitat. After taking some pictures of the lionfish we went on with our dive. The fish and oral life here is nothing like I’ve ever seen before on any of the other dives. There were more fish and coral and the coral appeared to be more colorful. We saw some very cool things such as a spotted eel, a huge lobster, and so on. Once we got to the ship there was an opening which we went through and we got to swim in the inside of the ship. This was very cool! We saw a lobster and a massive fish inside here. This was a short dive, only about 30 minutes. We then all meet up at the rope and we slowly ascended making a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet. We all got out of the water and dried off. Casey then gave us the story of the ship and its crew members. After this she gave us a small quiz on some of the important things. We kept track of how many questions people were getting right and Michael got the most so he got the opportunity to kill a lionfish. After this Casey told us a very creepy ghost story about the wreck and how people feel and see things that are out of the ordinary when they are down there (I didn’t notice anything thankfully) and then we got ready for our second dive of the day. She also told us of a lucky Italian passenger who was the only non crew member to survive. He was in room 26 and the story is that if you rub his window 3 times clockwise then you will be rich, have amazing food, and get the prettiest girl as your wife (once we got to the bottom we all got to rub it and I thought this was very cool). We jumped in and the headed straight down. Once we got to the bottom Michael got to kill the lionfish and then it floated up to the surface. This was very cool getting to see how the gun worked. After this we went on to the second part of the dive which it the boiler room and the other half of the boat. This part was really cool because of all the fish that we got to see. Once we were finishing up our dive we came across a huge lobster. Caitlin got a picture with each of us next to it and this was really cool just to look at. After the dive we got ready and went to Cooper Island for fish and chips. There was a small restaurant just on the shore and we all got fish and chips which tasted amazing! It must have tasted so good from rubbing window 26. After lunch we got to snorkel in the sea grass and we saw some very cool juvenile fish. We didn’t snorkel long however because we were exhausted from such a long day. We got back on the boat and then headed back for the Marina. Once at the marina we cleaned the boats off and shopped at the dive shop one last time. Glenn came to pick us up and them we showered and got ready for dinner. After showering Sam and I headed to the meeting room so that we could write our blogs before dinner. We went to our final dinner at Maddogs for Mexican food and then headed back to finish up our blogs. Tomorrow is community service followed by relaxation.