So, in my time here, I have quickly realized the difference between fun dives and working dives. Fun dives include: looking at the amazing array of tropical corals, fishes, corals, and sponges that scatter the ocean floor, and peeking in the nooks and crannies for small creatures to hide in. These dives are where you can really test your buoyancy by using your lungs and breath to slowly lower yourself down to analyze variety of invertebrates fix themselves to dead coral substrates. These dives are the ones where you’re 20-25 minutes in, look at your psi, and you’re presented with a bountiful 2000 psi to work with for the rest of your dive.
Working dives are not like this (from a beginner’s perspective).
Since I’ve been here, I’ve done two kinds of working dives.
Time in this dive could not pass ANY SLOWER. For this project, we’re using a pCO2 meter for 5 different testing sites and the meter must stay in the water for 10 minutes at each site before accurate readings are taken. We then obtain data for an additional 5 minutes to get data that we can actually analyze and manipulate so it’s no longer just a list of numbers. This means that we’re waiting 15 minutes at 5 treatment sites which ends up being roughly an hour and a half just sitting there… waiting… Did I mention we do these three times a day on our sampling days??
My first thoughts when I think about these dives is how fast time burns by and how I definitely thought I was getting better at reserving my air during dives but boy was I wrong. I do these dives for my professor and her ongoing project with observations of species recruitment in different areas around the island. With these, I look at my air consumption and can only deduce that my breathing rate is somewhat synonymous to that of one that is hyperventilating (mind you I am calm and feel comfortable in the dive, I just have never felt a greater thirst for air apparently???). I look over at my dive buddy who has been diving long before I was born (not that long though Professor Peterson, you look great) and he’s just doing his thing since he’s done this so many times before. Unlike him, I look at my gauge, see that I have 1200, and focus on slowing my breathing so he can finish up and I don’t run out of air during our three-minute safety stop. You know, the usual for my years (days) of experience doing tropical working dives at 60 ft.
This has definitely been an experience to say the least but I’m truly loving every minute of it. I think the mosquitos are tired of me now because I haven’t been getting as many bites. This might be due to my newly added morning ritual of bathing myself in bug-spray though, who knows. I am extremely thankful for all of the dive, fieldwork, and lab experience I’m gaining though. Professor Stubler has been an amazing person to look up to and I’m looking forward to what else I’ll learn in our remaining days here.