Blog post July 13


July 13

Today we woke up at 6:25 this morning and got ready for two dives for our project. We went to the teacher’s cabin for breakfast and had sausage, eggs, muffins, bagels and fruit. Afterwards, we went to the boats and planned what we would do for our project. We planned to set up a ten foot by ten foot square on a reef and count the fish and species we saw in it and the sea urchins. In about 30-35 feet of water, we first set up the perimeter then left the area for five minutes so the fish would return. We came back and Nick and I recorded the fish species and how many we saw for five minutes, although it was not long enough to count all of the fish and was difficult due to the large number of fish and because they moved around. We did see a tarpon and trumpet fish in the designated area, and on the way back we saw a barracuda. Then we counted the urchins and left, the whole thing taking about 55 minutes to an hour. For the second dive, in a more shallow area close to the first area, we set up the perimeter and left for five minutes again, but counted fish for about eight minutes to get a more accurate count. After counting the number of urchins we collected the markers and left. We saw a trumpet fish again and on the way back, another larger tarpon and barracuda. The tarpon were completely unafraid of us as they swam extremely close. The first barracuda we saw was hunting fish, but the second was staying under the boat. We ate sandwiches, chips, and cookies for lunch together on both boats and some people dove or did flips off the boat and swam around. After lunch, we went to Salt Island because there was an algal bloom around the mangroves we had planned to go to. It is named for the salt pond in the middle of the island that used to be farmed for sea salt and sold. The pond was only a few feet deep at its deepest and the bottom was coated in a thick layer of salt. The Dive BVI instructors told us the history, how it had been uninhabited for years and there were several grave sites on the island. We hiked around the pond and up the hill before returning to the boat, where we had to do push-ups because someone left the dust cap off of their regulator. After that we returned to Virgin Gorda and Ben, the captain of our boat, let us drive most of the way back, and I got to drive part of the way. We rested and then worked on our projects, transcribing the data we wrote down on the slates underwater. Later tonight, we will have pulled pork sandwiches on the beach and play frisbee. I look forward to visiting the Jesuit nursery to care for the coral we are growing later this week and Mr. Von’s ghost stories tonight.