Day Five


Finally finished with all our research, we were granted a day of relaxing recreational dives. The dive staff initially planned for two dives at the Wreck of the Rhone, a 300-foot long vessel that sunk on October 29th, 1867, but we had to do the first dive in a separate location due to a ripping current. We ended up in Wreck Alley, an 80-foot trench occupied by four ships artificially sunk in the 1990s. During the briefing, Beth and Becca explained to us all the work necessary to create an artificial reef. The boats needed to be cleaned of all fluids and any other thing that could potentially harm the environment, but the reefs created bring in ecotourism, and provide an incredible spot for coral to grow. While circling a room of one of the ships, I could see the barbs of a lion fish as well as hundreds of tiny juvenile blue chromis taking cover inside the boat. As we made our way to one of the other ships, a beautiful 9-foot eagle ray appeared out of the ocean abyss. While observing it gracefully swim around the wreck, I found four more sting rays in the wreck and on some reefs. 
The current finally calmed enough to dive the Rhone for our second dive. Since the ship had been under water for over 150 years, it was completely covered in flourishing coral and marine life; however, diving in a piece of history, a place where hundreds of people lost their lives, meant much more to me than the beautiful marine life I saw. For example, in some areas, there were pieces of broken tiles that were just as vibrant and colorful as they were in the 1800s, and a porthole with a large crack across the glass, that radiated with a shimmering ring of silver surrounding the glass. As we continued the dive, I spotted a horse eyed jack, two sea turtles, one green turtle and one hawksbill, and another eagle ray. 
After the dives, we made our way to the incredible Cooper Island, where we had lunch and coffee on the beach. Once everyone ate and settled down, we took to the shoreline to snorkel. While snorkeling, I cam across several 3-4 foot barracuda, sand tile fish, a wild Mr. Marr, and a very large trunk fish. Once everyone tired out, I retired to attempting front flips off the back of the boat. Now back in the commissary, the groups getting ready for burgers and hot dogs on the beach, and a night snorkel later tonight.