July 27 – I am just going to skip to the first dive because the morning routine was the same as always.
Our first dive was at the Kodiak Queen. The Kodiak Queen possesses some history. It was one of the few remaining vessels left after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and after its decommission, it began to compete supply runs around the Virgin Islands. After years of usage, the boat was scheduled to be scrapped; however, an interested buyer learned of its history and bought the boat to prevent its destruction. He later teamed up with local artists and welders to create an amazing ship wreck for diving. The group constructed a monolithic kraken swarming the ship, then sank the vessel near Mountain Point.
Now The Mangoes were extremely excited to see this site, but before we could, we had to see who was the fastest underwater. Zoltan called it a “moonwalk race.” Essentially while diving, we took off our fins and became negatively buoyant to stay closer to the ground and walked across the sandy bottom for about 20 feet. Your truly won by a hair with Trip coming in a close second.
Afterwards, we swam around the wreck. Zoltan pointed out a Hog Fish swimming under the hull, and I also spotted a turtle swimming above us amongst several schools of fish. We eventually went up to the bow deck. Zoltan then took us through one of the bow doors and out of a hole on the deck, allowing for us to see the inside of the ship and its devolving relationship with the environment. Then, we moved to the back and swam through the ship again and entered the inside of the bulb of the octopus, which was extremely crowded with several groups. After spending a bit more time down there swimming around, we made our way back up to the boat and moved to our next site.
The second site was a coral nursery for Staghorn Coral, one of the most abundant species in the Caribbean. Long story short, Fire Coral and algae had invaded the coral trees, and cleaning the tree involved some aggressive elbow-grease with a chisel to scrape off the infective guests. I got little stung again at least three times on my hands. Luckily, they did not compare to the sting on the second day. We were down there for about an hour, and overall, Trip and I made good progress on our tree.
Next, we had a pleasant lunch around the northern corner of Virgin Gorda esteem the Sea Dragon and Monkey. We got to jump off the second deck into the water, which gave me a chance to perfect my swan dive.
After, we started snorkeling around the Mangrove Trees on the nearby shoreline. Jack Bausbacher and I stayed behind the group and swam around the edge of the trees. We saw several large anemones, a sea cucumber, a small barracuda, and some sponges.
In fact, Beth picked up the sea cucumber and let us touch it. She explained how the cucumber possesses suction cups on the bottom side to grab prey and objects to hold and how when scared it will recall its mouth back into itself as a protection measure. She further explained how if threaten the cucumber will spray a “gunk” to ward off predators.
In addition, we also spotted a massive Upsidedown Jellyfish, at least a foot and a half in diameter. We came up to tell our dive master and met the piercing yelling of Tyler in front of us. Apparently, he had been stung by one of the Upsidedown Jellyfish and everyone was quickly swimming away. As Jack and I turned around to start our quick return, we realized that we were in the middle of a minefield of the jellyfish. So we had to force ourselves to calmly swim across the volatile area. Lucky, we made it out without a hitch. However, Tyler came out with a large sting across his wrist and red spots spotting his torso and arms, so he was in a bit of pain for a couple of hours.
Overall, it was an eventful and tiring final dive day in the BVI, and I am looking forward to our service tomorrow.