Click here to jump to a web album containing 28 photos from today.
Greetings, friends and family! I am writing this at the end of a long day that featured 4 dives. We certainly earned out pizza dinner tonight.
Our day began with the usual gathering at the beach for cleanup. As yesterday, the wind was quite strong, indicating that it would be a rough day on the seas. We gathered at the dock and loaded on to the speedboat that would ferry us throughout our day:
Our first step was a shipwreck, the remains of a construction barge that sunk during a storm about 15 years ago. Coral has begun to grow over its surface, and fish swarm within its hull. Unfortunately, the winds and currents were so strong that it was a real struggle to get to the wreck and stay above it. Ken (Director of TREC) said that, for some groups, he would have canceled given the conditions, but he knew our group to be hardier than most. From the shipwreck, we motored to a nearby protected reef that offered better conditions. But still, the rough conditions made photography very difficult, so I focused on shooting videos. Because of the slow Internet speeds on Belize, I am unable to upload them now, but hopefully I can soon. In the mean time, here are some shots that give you an idea of the shipwreck and some of the marine life that inhabits the area:
From there, we rode to Caye Caulker, a small island off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker is an incredibly mellow place, with one main dirt road, no cars, and an extremely relaxing vibe. We had fish sandwiches for lunch, stimulated the local economy, and enjoyed island-made ice cream. Several of the students were really taken by Caye Caulker and vowed to return.
Thus rested and fortified, we headed back to Coral Gardens and snorkeled a different part of the reef. Again, the rough conditions caused many to skip the dive or come back early, and prevented me from shooting many photos.
After our third dive, we returned to TREC for a brief respite. At 5:30, we headed back to the dock, boarded Goliath, and headed out to Tuffy Reef for a night dive. Ken briefed us on what we should expect to see. Many of the students were nervous, but everyone embraced the experience and jumped in for the dark tour of the reef.
Exploring the reef at night was an unforgettable experience. Many new creatures were visible, some familiar ones had different colors and behaviors, and we witnessed bioluminscence. Some of the highlights including interacting with squid and octopus (one of which attached itself to a student's arm for a good 10 minutes, much to her delight):
Upon reentering to the boat, the students were completely jazzed, swapping stories and showing videos. We returned to TREC for a well-earned pizza dinner, then settled in to work on journals and lab reports. I am finding myself a bit woozy as I type this, sun-kissed, salt-encrusted, dive-weary, adrenaline-drained, and thrilled to be part of this experience.