Day 3


Today we explored a ship wreck, faced down sharks, and observed turtles in the sea grass. To begin our day, we dove the Rhone, a British ship once thought to be unsinkable. As with the Titanic, the Rhone in fact proved to be sinkable and fell at the hands of a hurricane in the late 1800s. During our dive, we traveled through a hole in the ship and rubbed lucky porthole number twenty-six, the place where the only passenger survived. The marine life we noticed varied from tarpon to lobster, but the coolest thing I saw was an eagle ray, a large animal with a blue back covered in white spots. After the Rhone dive, we headed to the Steps where I was introduced to three Caribbean reef sharks. When I first looked around, intricate coral from elkhorn to brain and fish such as blue tang and squirrel fish took my attention; however, an approaching streamlined creature in a gray suit stole the spotlight. This first shark I saw was around three to four feet long and gliding through the water on its spread pectoral fins. Heading towards us I was able to capture a decent picture of the shark next to Jeff our dive master. Before the dive, Jeff had told us how sharks’ skin is rough like sandpaper, even while the skin seemed as smooth as ever up close. Interestingly, the shark seemed mildly curious about us and took a few laps around before heading off. Two other sharks swam by a short time later but they were both smaller and no more interested in us than the first. Next we headed to Cooper Island which is completely self-sufficient and runs on self-generated electricity and rain water. There we ate the Dr. Gruninger approved fish n’ chips and followed with gelato desserts. After lunch we snorkeled around Cooper Island which is surrounded by sea grass, a type of underwater plant that provides a perfect habitat for fish to hide and turtles to graze. I found a green sea turtle eating the grass ten minutes into the snorkel and also several sea urchins scattered amongst corals which bordered the sea grass. Here, I also saw a school of blue tang racing throughout the coral. To end the day we headed down to the beach for a barbecue and embarked on a night snorkel. Unlike a daytime snorkel, a snorkel at night allows us to observe more predators and see bioluminescent creatures that are mainly nocturnal organisms. Furthermore, typical reef fish are hiding at night in an attempt to avoid predators. For example, we learned that parrotfish surround themselves with mucus and lie on the sea floor because the mucus hides them from detection by predators. Though I did not see a parrotfish, I did see two huge lobsters, both a bit larger than purse dogs, that we scared into crawling under a rock. Other than the lobsters, we also disturbed an octopus when we shone our flashlights by it, causing it to agitatedly swim away. Today we were in the water for what seemed to be the longest time this week; however, all that time was worth it as I was able to learn more about the ocean and see an eagle ray, a Caribbean shark, and an octopus: three creatures I had never seen before.