Marine Bio 2 Day 1


Last night after two flights and a boat ride, fourteen hours of travel in total, everyone was very happy to once again be at Guavaberry. A few short but rejuvenating hours of sleep later, Clay, Henry, Cole, Bryce, and I groggily arose for the first day of our second year of marine bio. After a tasty egg and bacon breakfast sandwich at the Yacht Harbor restaurant and a quick briefing about how to not drown on our boat, Sea Monkey, we headed out to our fist dive site on George Dog island for a refresher dive. My dive partner Henry and I geared up and dove in. After descending to about 30 feet and navigating to a sandy patch we conducted skill refresher drills including mask clearing and buddy breathing. Having completed those, we could finally really start to explore the natural wonder that is the BVI’s ocean. The most exciting animals we saw were a barracuda and a very small shark. It was about two feet long and very weary of divers but it allowed us to get within twenty yards of it before it turned and swam off into the deep blue. I was most impressed by the Elkhorn coral we saw. Our instructor Casey Mcnutt pointed out that they were planted there as part of the coral nursery project only four years ago. This was incredible because last year we helped the project by cleaning off some finger-sized branches of coral being grown on PVC pipe nursery trees with toothbrushes. Seeing a huge patch of coral concerning nearly 100% of the ground and offering habitat to many times more fish than the surrounding sandy bottom. It make me feel like the efforts Jesuit Marine Bio and especially the guys at Dive BVI was having a huge impact on the health of the reef. It made me more excited to go back to the nursery this week and see just how much the coral we tended to last year grew while we were gone. Our introductory dive was pretty short and shallow, so when when we headed back to the boat we quickly hosed off with fresh water and set a course for the next site. About twenty minutes later we moored just off of Great Dog Island. The purpose of our second dive was to learn to identify some more of the many species that call the BVI home. Henry, Mrs. McNutt, and Mr. Vaughn, and I descended to a depth of about 40 feet. Among other species, we saw fairy basslets, trumpetfish, a grouper, squirrelfish, and many stoplight parrot fish (the stars of last year’s experiment). An other sign that the coral is improving in health was a young live branch of Elkhorn coral growing off an older bleached piece of coral. After diving for the better part of an hour we returned to the boat and turned to shore. We ate lunch on Guavaberry’s beach and played frisbee for about an hour before snorkeling out to the Baths. It was about a fifteen minute swim around the point to get to the baths. I remembered the history and the science behind the enormous rock formation, with details like that the strange curves on the hollowed out granite were formed by trapped gasses during the rocks’ formation and that it reviewed its name because the spot was a popular stop for slave trading ships to stop and bathe their cargo before arriving at the continent. Everyone made their way though the baths to a sandy beach bordered by the enormous rock formations. Our guide gave us twenty minutes of time to relax and run around before we had to return to Guavaberry, so naturally every student took off running towards the far rocks. We scampered up boulders and leaped across crevices, trying to get to the top. Unfortunately, as the first people were reaching the top bolder, we were called back and returned to the beach. We then snorkeled back to Guavaberry, racing the last hundred yards, and returned to our cabins to shower for dinner. Overall, my first day was just as incredible as last year. I hadn’t forgotten the beauty of the island but I was awed by the incredible diversity of life and the natural wonders of Virgin Gorda and the Dog islands.