Day five on the island:
We went back to the 7am wake up for this morning. Everyone was especially tired today because of how much sun we got yesterday during the turtle tagging. Most cabins were asleep and lights out at 10:30. Anyway, we met glen at 8 so that he could drive us to breakfast. For breakfast, we went to the little breakfast place that we’ve been to several times. I got a BLT with egg over-easy on wheat toast. After I finished breakfast, I went with Matt Horvath to the Dive BVI gift shop to get some souvenirs. Shortly after checking out, I followed everyone who was walking to the boats. Horvath and I hopped onto the Sea Dragon before everyone else got there and set all of our gear up and checked it twice. Today we got to participate in Jesuit’s coral replantation efforts. Every year Jesuit replants coral in order to strengthen the population of Staghorn coral. Most coral is damaged by boaters who drop anchor right on top of a reef and by strong waves. Coral is also plagued by diseases such as: bleaching, high temperature, tube worms, and Last week Marine 2 Jesuit students placed an underwater camera in a Jesuit sanction reef. It streams a live feed of the reef, temperature, salinity, pH, and tons of organisms living in the vicinity. During the day you can find and hear parrot fish grazing on the corals, small barracudas, other species of fish, and sometimes even a turtle. At night you can see nocturnal animals on the prowl for food such as: squids, stingrays, crabs, squirrel fish, and other species of aquatic life. The first dive site was a little ways away from the Jesuit reef at a place known as the coral gardens. There we collected pieces of Staghorn coral that has either fallen off or saving the coral from potential disease. Staghorn is usually a bright orange in color with a white tip at the end of the coral. It is somewhat sharp and has defined polyps that protrude from the thickest part. After each diver had found a piece of coral we put it into a box that was sunk underwater to limit the contact with the coral itself. We brought the box onto the boat full of coral, then we began to break the coral. We had to break the coral in order to preserve the healthy coral. We took wire cutters and made a cut about two centimeters above the infected part of the coral to keep it healthy. After we got all of the coral cut and prepped, it was time to go replant them. We used an epoxy clay to anchor the Staghorn to the rocks. First, we used a wire bristle brush to clean off the rock to give the epoxy the best chance of staying put. Next we built a little volcano-like structure to place the coral in. Lastly we stamped the coral into the epoxy and built up the walls with epoxy to hold the coral in place. We used epoxy because of how easy it is and also how fast it hardens. On our way back to the boats, we were allowed to explore the surrounding reef, while still making our way back. On the way back my dive buddy (John Wengierski) and I stopped in a lifeless place where we swam around playing in the sand. Once we got tired of that, we surfaced and made our way onto the boat. We hangout and swam around in the water until it was time for lunch. For lunch we were given ham/turkey sandwiches and peanut-butter jelly sandwiches. Then we made our way back to the cabins where almost everyone took a short little nap, hangout, and played cards till dinner time. For dinner we had wonderful meat lovers pizza on the beach.