Freediving in the Red Sea

Hi everyone!  Last weekend I signed up for a snorkel cruise out of KAUST with my friend Ann Marie.  These boat excursions are an amazing way to get into the ocean, see some lively corals, and get to go off campus for a bit.  They last from 9 AM- 3 PM, include a lunch (even for vegetarians!) and they cost 80 SAR, or $21.62.  This is a lot cheaper than snorkel trips in Hawaii! But are also expensive enough that maybe I shouldn’t sign up for one every weekend (although I probably will).  Everytime we go out on the boat we have to pass coastguard, then we are free to go to the reefs that they allow.  This weekend we drove the boat about 1.5 hours to Cave Reef.  The colors were so vibrant and it was nice to see a large diversity of fish, it was a freediver/photographer’s dream! I even made a video showcasing the lovely reefs, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHUqE4iNJo4&t=289s.

Speaking of videos, I also had time to make two Oman videos!  These are a great way to check out the true and unexpected beauty of Oman.  The first video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEVl57TkQYU. The second can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gApqM_itmm0&t=11s.

A quick update, classes are going well!  I am enrolled in Marine Life, Oceanography, Genomics, Graduate Seminar, and Directed Research.  My current project for the semester is looking at symbionts (zooxanthellae- the little algae living in coral) within acropora collected throughout the Red Sea.  The goal is to look at the longitudinal gradient to see if the species change with location.  This is done by DNA extraction of the symbionts, so this week I learned the process of extraction, there’s like 500 or so corals collected for me to look out so I will have my work cut out for me!  I also hope to work on other research projects this semester in different specialties to try to get a sense of what I want my thesis to be on!

This Friday I head to Dubai.  It is Saudi National Day so we have along weekend, so i will be traveling with some of my friends an staying in a hostel for three nights, I will make sure to blog about it!  That is the last of my travels until winter break.  I am stoked to announce that I will be headed to Bali, Indonesia for 10 days and then going home to Hawaii for the rest of break!  Ah can’t wait to see my family and dog and go to the beach every day!!!  But I have only been gone for a month so I can’t get too ahead of myself!

Here are some of my favorite photos from my freedive in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia:

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