Jesuit Reef and the Rhone


Yesterday morning we ate at the marina and then prepared our gear for the boat ride. We planned on a snorkel dive to identify potential coral for our Jesuit Coral Reef. After a ~30 minute snorkel, we put on our scuba gear and went out to gather the coral with our groups, however I was not feeling too well and surfaced for the remainder of the dive. I sat on the boat and enjoyed the view until everyone came up for the surface interval and the next dive briefing. Since I wanted to do the night snorkel later that day, I sat out of the second dive to make sure that I felt well enough. After everyone finished the two dives, we rode back to the marina on the boat and took the taxi back to the rooms. We showered for mass and came back to the rooms to get ready for the beach barbecue and night snorkel. Most of us played frisbee and stayed in the water until dinner was ready, ate, and then discussed our night snorkel. I was partners with Brendan again and we shared a high powered flashlight and went out into the dark abyss of night ocean. Our group saw a glimpse of a large fish type thing in the sea, but we could not tell exactly what it was so we naturally assumed that it was a shark, but were then told it was a tarpin, which was also interesting. We were led in shallow water over the reef, and I was constantly holding my breath (to maintain very positive buoyancy) to avoid scraping the still menacing sea urchins, which came out of the crevices and onto the coral to terrify us even more. We wrapped up the night snorkel and completed the day.
This morning my roommates and I woke up to some dedicated birds and roosters and we got up and had breakfast at the marina. Same prep routine as yesterday, we grabbed our correct BC sizes and a regulators and lathered up in sunscreen. It was one of the longer boat rides, which was enjoyable. I was excited for the long day of diving ahead of us because it was a wreck dive with evidence of history. The first dive was a tour of the bow section of the RMS Rhone and it was my favorite dive of the trip. There was so much color in the artificial reef and so much life surrounding the boat. I saw an octopus, a giant lobster, a moray eel, and many other marine life in the first dive. We all surfaced for the surface interval and was told a bit about the history of the dive site, such as the boat itself, its crew members, and its demise. A storm had passed through and the crew did not think much of it, but as it became more intense, it was too late to escape the surrounding islands and the boat crashed into a large rock on Salt Island and the steam mixed with the cold water to create a steam explosion which separated the boat into the bow and stern. The second dive was the stern section, where we saw some cabins of the ship, the captain’s silver spoon, the lucky porthole, an eagle ray, a barracuda, quite a few bar-jacks, a massive Gray Angelfish, and other large marine life. We came back and rode the boat back to the marina, showered in our rooms, and ate at Mad Dog’s again for the last time. We had a relaxing afternoon and evening and are wrapping up our final day of diving.