Diving down deep at the drop-off

Today, Sunday June 12th, we all awoke to the sound of our alarms so we could eat breakfast. Just kidding, we all awoke to the painful bites of a thousand no-see-ums. A few of us decided to try to sleep in instead of enjoying a grand breakfast of scrambled eggs and cereal. Since we have a free schedule for Sunday mornings many students decided to continue working on their research projects or their organism presentations. Sunday mornings are usually uneventful.

For lunch we got to carbo-load on spaghetti with meat sauce, biscuits, and brownies. This ended up being the perfect lunch to prepare for the afternoon’s events. After we finished lunch we all geared up for a trip to the drop-off. We loaded our snorkel gear onto the truck along with a blow-up raft in case anyone got tired. After a long, bumpy truck ride we arrived at Fernandez Bay where we would swim out. This snorkel had no objective except to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Everyone put on their snorkel boots, grabbed the rest of their gear, and hung out in the shallows. We all huddled up to get our first complete group picture, which will go on our trip t-shirts. Afterwards we put on the rest of our gear and swam to Snapshot Reef as a group (halfway to the wall).

We regained our breaths and regrouped before we continued our laborious swim. As we passed Snapshot Reef we swam overtop of the Spur and Groove section of the reef zonation; an area of spur-like coral formations with grooves of sand. In this area we saw many large barrel sponges, in which a human or two could fit. After this section was a vast plain of sand, where Garden Eels poke their heads out looking for zooplankton. After the plain of sand was a short span of coral, after which was a vast volume of nothing but water as far as you could see. The wall is inexplicable, one moment there is a bottom, the next moment there is nothing but open water. If we didn’t have to seal our snorkels with our mouths I’m sure everyone’s jaws would be at the bottom of the 1500ft drop-off. All we could see were Creole Wrasse and Ocean Triggerfish. After our time was up we swam back exactly how we swam out, with a stop at Snapshot Reef where we saw a massive Mutton Snapper.

After we arrived back at the GRC we were delighted by a fantastic dinner of chicken drumsticks, peas and rice, macaroni and cheese, corn, broccoli, and apple pie. After dinner we had a short break before class. We both took part in the ritualistic game of volleyball directly after dinner. As for the other students, many just hung out in their rooms and/or took a refreshing shower. We all arrived at the classroom at 7:30pm in order to observe 2 organism group presentations. We got to learn about green, brown, and red algae and the common algae found at the sites we’ve been to. After the algae group, we got to learn about the Cnidarians that we’ve seen so far on the trip (corals and anemones).  We all ended our day with a quick trip to the snack shop to replenish all the energy we lost during the day. The trip is quickly winding down to a close and we shall soon be on our way back home.

Colin Stewart ’19 & Jeremy Barkley ‘17


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