Marine Bio


It was the first time I had woken up to a rooster’s crow. I had only read books about it; I didn’t think in a million years it would happen to me. I roll out of bed with a groan and methodically strip off my clothes while sliding towards the tiny shower. I rinse off the thin layer of grime I had accumulated over the swampy night. We pile in an open bus-like taxi at 6:45 to a hotel where class is held. Casey, the head dive master, introduces herself and our agenda for the day. We then have an involved discussion about conservation of marine life, taking sides and constructing arguments. Casey educates us about the importance of the marine ecosystem while coupling it with an urge to contemplate the affects small, capital tasks have on it. A specific example I remember is the planned construction of a golf course on Virgin Gorda. We discussed the consequences this has on the nearby ocean. The sand must be transported across seas via large, polluting cargo ships, while the fertilizers and pesticides used on the landscape run off into the coast water. This is something I never would have thought about before, which is the goal of this trip — to make students more aware of the benefits of marine life and the effects we have on it. So far they have made a small chip in the gradual sculpting of our minds. Casey then led us in a group identification of the types of fish we would see while diving. After, we took a 20 minute boat ride to the coral reef of the Dog Islands, where we dropped anchor to begin our first dive. The reef was teaming with life and I could identify almost everything I saw. Learning about the marine life was interesting, but getting face to face with it was exhilarating. Our dive leader, Sarah, would point out different fish, coral, or sponges and write down the names of them on an underwater slate, displaying it to our group of 5 people. This dive was around 45 minutes long and we descended to around 40 feet. We then swam through a cavelike structure formed by cup corals. There was a school of Sergeant Majors swimming close to the roof of it, along with occasional Fairy Basslets and Yellowtail Snappers. The most interesting fish was the parrotfish, with it’s brilliant array of purples, yellow, and blues. I quickly reach my hand to grab one, but it quickly turns and dashes through the transparent water within milliseconds. We slowly ascend after a jaw-dropping 40 minutes and surface. After we arrive back on the island, we quickly shower and then make a short walk to the beach where we devour a sloppy, but delicious lasagna. After that, we head to the wifi room where I come in contact with the first electronics all day. After writing this blog I plan to play a couple rounds of blackjack while my roommates suppress their testosterone-fueled anger directed at me as I rake in large amounts of potted snickers and granola bars thanks to an ace I hide in a crevice under the table. I will then lie down on my bed with a satisfied grin as I blast multiple fans throughout the AC-free cabin and doze off ready to dive again tomorrow.

Preston Sledge