July 24 – Boring items out of the way first, I woke up. It was hot as usual. Breakfast was quick and filling with Fruit Loops and Fig Newtons. That concludes the boring items of the day.
Our first dive, this time at Ginger’s Hole, was The Mangoes first attempt at our research project. Our project is to observe the affects of macroalgal growth on coral health; so in layman’s terms, we are seeing if algal presence causes for more instances of coral bleaching and disease.
Quick side note: We got to see a group of 20 dolphins as we arrived to the dive site. I have only witnessed porpoises (dolphin’s less exciting cousins) down in Rockport, Texas in small group of 5 or less. So witnessing a group this large was insanely cool (for lack of a better PSAT vocabulary word).
The Mangoes split up into two groups. One consisted of myself and Trip, while the other was made up of Tyler and Nick. During our search for a suitable area to test (10×10), I had an easier time equalizing, so that is exciting. Eventually, we arrived at what our group deemed a suitable test area. Tyler and Nick chose a section filled with Staghorn coral with Needle Fish swimming under, and Trip and I chose a large rock covered in a variety of coral. Trip and I quickly lined out or area and began our observations. While I was observing some coral, the current moved some Fire Coral into the side of my arm. Now for anyone who does not know, Fire Coral is a hazardous species which “stings” organisms that touch it with the intensity varying on the victim. Now “stings” is an understatement for the pain I felt when this touched me. Stabbed viciously is a better description. Luckily, it rapidly lessened throughout the rest of the day, so that is enjoyable.
Anyways, the way back was much more exciting. We started back and out of nowhere a four foot reef shark begins to swim around us just looking around. Nick attempted to chase and pet it but could not catch up to the thousands of years of evolution.
Also, while the shark was passing back, the rubber band attached to my slate (a flat piece of plastic to write on underwater) broke. So once we emerged, Zoltan told me to climb up to the second deck and look for it floating in the water. Zoltan then came up and spotted it and told me to go snorkel to it. As a rugby player, Coach Ortiz prepared me for this cardio. Apparently, I swam what looked like 150 yards in the Caribbean ocean while everyone on the boat was yelling for me to come back. I swear I couldn’t hear them, but I got the slate and rode the waves back to the boat.
So a much more exciting time than my nap the previous day.
Second dive sadly was not as interesting as the first. We moved over to the other side of Ginger Island to Ginger’s backside, and we began our second dive for the research project. This time we saw a monster-sized lobster hiding under a rock. The head was at least the size of a softball with antennas over a foot long. The rest of the dive continued on with minimal excitement for me.
Afterwards, we ate a quick lunch and walked to the famous Baths in the BVI. The Baths are basically a collection of boulders on the coast of Virgin Gorda. The name mostly stems from its usage as a cleansing area for slaves and the rocks populating the area are called batholiths. After climbing through the rocks, we arrived at a small cove.
After swimming around for a bit, we began our snorkeling trip. During, I saw a massive snapper, several baby squids, and different species of butterfly fish. I loved diving down and swimming next to the coral and fish.
Another Side Note: I only have a regular housing for my GoPro camera, so the pressure from the water causes the button to hold down, which causes for the photo time lapse to begin. As a result, during both dives I had a time lapse going, totaling up to a solid 6500+ photos that I have to shuffle through. So, photos will be added tomorrow.
So that is all I have to say about that.