I am happy to report that my body’s thermoregulation system has finally adjusted to the abrupt change in temperature and humidity from New York to Jamaica. But I don’t think my hair will ever get the memo, apologies to everyone who has to see it over the next 11 days, the frizz factor is HIGH. My wild hair and new found friends headed off on our newest adventure bright and early today with our first open water dive, the next necessary step in our open water diver certification training! Our instructors (Camilo and Snow) ran us through skills that we had previously learned in our pool dive sessions. As my brothers know, all too well, I am completely and absolutely terrified of kayaking in any amount of water (most recently screaming that I was going to be swept out to sea in 3 inches of water and not on the ocean) but I was ready, willing, and able to dive 42 feet under the ocean’s surface without hesitation. Experiencing the ocean in such a new way has been dream come true. On our dives I held a sea cucumber (potentially identified using a Reef Creature Identification book as the Harlequin Sea Cucumber or Holothuria grisea). It was much softer and squishier than I expected, its little tube feet on its underside suctioned to my hand with surprising force, and its cone-shaped papillae (“spikes” on its body) were smoother to the touch than I had thought they would be. On our second dive our dive instructor removed an empty mesh concrete bag from one of the artificial reef structures and I picked up a banana chip bag to throw away. Keep your garbage out of the ocean people!
When we arrived back from our dive training, I nearly fell over carrying my gear it’s so heavy, still trying to find my sea legs I suppose. But alas, I made it. Lecture followed diving, and snorkeling followed lunch and lecture. The food is always delicious! My snorkel buddies were Ashley and Daeyla today, we stayed primarily around the mangroves and rocks since the current was a little strong. After searching through the sea grass for a while I stumbled upon a huge Queen Conch (Strombus gigas)
and a little tiny crab found under a rock
We have been instructed to over turn rocks (replacing them when done) and I seem to be having trouble just finding a rock to begin with…I’ll get it soon enough along with the true identity of said crab, don’t worry. Lots and lots of names of critters big, small, and smaller to learn and attempt to collect for wet lab observations! Wish us luck, these creatures either move fast, hide well, or look alike!
(NOT an indication of my skin’s exposure to UVA and UVB rays)