dude, where’s the boat

My weekend has been chaos and I haven’t had any free time to relax, which is fine by me. I can’t remember where I left off, I think it was on Friday.  So Saturday I woke up at around 7 and had some breakfast, and my scuba dive started at 10:00 so I took that free time to walk to a nearby beach and collect some shells.  I have a pretty epic collection of shells right now, I have sooo many I can’t wait to craft with them.  After shelling I worked on my environmental policy Total Economic Valuation report.  This is where we research all the goods and services mangroves and seagrass have to offer and we see if it is the best decision to damage these ecosystems to build a hotel in East Bay, or if we should let them be.  It is actually a pretty useful skill and I love writing so this assignment hasn’t been super horrible.  I definitely have more to write though, but I have till Wednesday.

My Saturday dive was pretty amazing as usual. I love my dive group they are so funny.  I also think we are changing around dive groups after this week because some of us are getting certified for Advanced Open Water (YAY)!  So the dive was at a site called “The Plane”.  As the name describes, there is a plane wreck 60 feet under the ocean, and it is so beautiful.  We saw so many little critters, and there was a foot long crap chillin in the wreck which I thought was awesome.  There was also tons of cool coral and just beyond the plane was what is known as “the wall”.   This is a 200 foot drop and is such an incredible site.  I felt like it was comparable to the Grand Canyon, just magnificent and breathe taking.  Ah scuba diving is such an amazing feeling.  Being weightless and silent under the ocean is just such a zen moment for me.  Anyways, later on the dive we found a bunch of cleaning shrimp, which we let play on our hands and they cleaned up my cuticles.  It was pretty adorable.  So the most dramatic part of my week is coming up so prepare yourself.  While we were doing our three minute safety stop we were all just hanging up enjoying the school of finfish surrounding us.  I looked up at the surface of the water and attempted to spot the boat.  Generally, the boat is connected to the mooring with a float line, but I could not see the line or the boat from under the water.  I played it off that it was some sort of optical illusion and that the sun was just blocking my view.  Well I was wrong, we got to the surface and the boat was literally nowhere to be seen.  Now, I thought it was pretty funny, but my dive master was not amused.  She was super calm and dealt with the situation super well, but I just felt bad or her because she was responsible for our six lives, and what can you do in that situation.  We inflated our BCs to stay buoyant, and Jess (my dive master) blew her whistle and we all did the distressed diver signal with our hands.  The waves were pretty massive so we couldn’t see if there were any boas in the horizon, which was a little sketchy.  I felt like it was a scene from a movie.  Now it ended well and Travis (the diver of the boat) came back to get us.  He explained that the float line had snapped so he had to find another mooring to hook up to.  He came back and rescued us.  This was also pretty epic due to the fact that he couldn’t anchor or mooring.  So he threw out rope for us to hold on to and we handed him our scuba equipment and climbed onto the boat.  It was a source of a lot of talk on campus, and it was def an adventure I will not forget any time soon.

After lunch Saturday I had community outreach. I generally teach swim lessons but I decided I should get out and do something new, and I am so glad I did.  I signed up for water monitoring with one of my professors, Aaron.  We went out on the boat and went to five different sites where we measured depth, salinity, dissolved oxygen, light saturation, and some other things.  We also took water samples from the surface as well as from a depth.  It was pretty cool and I got to learn a lot of new sampling techniques.  The weather was beyond perfect, and I got quite a tan line from my tank top.  I am already pretty dark so I am officially like a race darker.  Anyways, the highlight of this adventure was all the wildlife we saw.  We saw about three different sharks, and literally 18 eagle rays.  Some were in groups and some were by themselves, but because the water here is so clear, I could see them perfectly from the boat.  When eagle rays were spooked by the boat noise, they would dart which resembled a soaring bird, probably where the name eagle ray originated.  It was so cool ahh I love sharks,  Another cool thing I saw was a field of cushion star fish.  The water was so clear and blue and you could see all of these huge starfish everywhere, it looked like a screen saver.

 

After water monitoring me and some of my friends decided to go out to eat. We went to a bar called Darrels and got some cracked conch and French fries. I love cracked conch, it is delish, reminds me of fried calamari. NOM.  Saturday night most of the SFS kids went out into town.  It was a pretty awesome night, bonded with some locals and danced with my friends.

 

Sunday we have the day off which is always good. I slept in a little and then started on my laundry.  Now laundry here is quite a production.  I started out my filling a large bin with salt water and adding Dr. Bonners biodegradable soap.  Keep in mind this bin got super heavy with water so it was a huge struggle to carry it to my room.  I then put all my dirty clothes in the bin and kind of mixed it up and let it sit while I showered.  Side note:  my hair.  I currently have just one giant dread cause I haven’t had time or patience to brush it out, hopefully I can do that after I go turtling tonight, cept I also have to write an essay so that may have to wait another day.  Soo yes, after my laundry soaked I rang out my clothes and tried to get them as clean as possible, than rinsed them with freshwater.  (yes, I used my freshwater allowance on laundry instead of a shower..ew) This whole production took me about two hours including the time it took me to hang up all my clothes on the line.  By the time I was finished it was brunch time where I enjoyed some waffles.  Then I worked on my TEV a tiny little bit and then headed to Easy Bay with Luda, Shayna, and Kristan.  We collected some shells, snorkeled, and sunbathed.  It was a lovely lazy Sunday.  We were gone for like four hours and by the time I got back to campus it was time to go sharking!

 

Shark bait hoo ha ha

Sharking was such an amazing experience. We started at 5:30 before the sun set, and we deployed a set of strobe lights to set a path so we could get back to the dock after dark.  We had to go through a channel so this ensured that our boat didn’t get beached on the shallows.  So sharking, we had a 100 m net which we set up from the mangroves and checked every 20 minutes.  We used gillnets so we had to make sure no critters got stuck for too long because they could die if they went unnoticed.  So one student would walk in the pitch black ocean alone (well they had a flashlight) and would walk along the net and check for sharks.  It was a little creepy cause we could see the outlines of sharks swimming around, and like the people on the boat had to be silent and couldn’t have lights on, so it just felt like you were the only one around.  At first it was quiet and we hadn’t caught anything, but then we heard some splashed.  My professor, Aaron, jumped into the water and came back with an adorable little turtle!  We played with her for a while and had a nice little photoshoot.  I just love turtles so so so much!  About 20 minutes later we finally caught a shark!  One of the students (luda I think) got to carry it back to the boat where we took a tissue sample, implanted a PIT tag, and did some measurements.  It was sooo cool.  It was a pretty large sized nurse shark!  So awesome.  The whole trip took like five hours, and even the boat ride home was epic.  The stars were shining so bright we could see the milky way.  I saw tons of shooting stars…it was magical.  We also saw some bioluminescence which was beautiful.  When we shined the flashlight into the water the squid got excited and all jumped out of the ocean which was pretty sweet.

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