Another early morning began with the cries of the roosters which roam the resort. Our fellow Seniors volunteered to serve breakfast to all of us to fuel our busy mornings full of research. Today we would begin our project dives, and my group was to find out if the diameter of a barrel sponge has any direct impact on the speed at which it filters seawater. To do this, we would inject food coloring into the water which surrounded the sponge and time how long it took for it to “excrete” or filter the coloring. As my team and I boarded the Sea Dragon, our instructor gathered the food coloring and a couple of syringes to spray the sponges we would be researching. We also brought a tape measure, video camera, and underwater paper to record our data. We began our dives at the backside of Ginger Island and quickly made our way down to 60 feet to find Barrel Sponges. Once we found our three specimen, we took their measurements and timed how long it took for the coloring to be filtered through the sponge. We chose a large, medium and small sponge for each of our experiments with their own varying results. From our findings today, smaller sponges filter seawater much faster than larger sponges. The highlight of our venture down to 60 feet was the wildlife we saw. In one barrel sponge, a huge lobster made a hideout for itself, and on the outside we spotted a very small lionfish. The most interesting part about the lionfish was that it was black and white. I personally was confused since lionfish are red, but I learned today that we lose visibility of certain colors the deeper we go, and red is the first color we can’t see.
Next we moved to the Ginger Island Steps to search not only for sponges, but for reef sharks. The sharks there were specifically Caribbean Reef Sharks which were around 5 feet long as extremely curious of humans. They swam between our legs and circled our groups. Diving with such an amazing predator is an incredible experience we were offered today, and most definitely my favorite part of Day 2 of diving. Although we did find sharks, there were no barrel sponges in the area on the second dive. We returned to Spanish town to eat and head out to the Baths for a mile long snorkel. The Baths were an extraordinary place. Gigantic, natural boulders created caves we hiked through. At the end of the caves, we were greeted with a long snorkel trip back to the beach on the resort. Today’s research for my group was the main talk among the instructors, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for our project dives.