Monday, July 13, 2015

Waterstart Week Three

Week three has begun! Our eager new Waterstarters arrived at BIOS at 9:00 this morning. After sharing names and some quick introductions, we set out for a grand tour of the BIOS facilities. This was an excellent chance to see and hear firsthand from resident scientists about the Atlantic Explorer, coral experiments, and the glider Anna. Some of these scientists we came across were Waterstart graduates themselves -- what a cool reminder of where this program can lead!

After a few icebreaking games on the BIOS field, we all felt a bit hot and sweaty. Thankfully, next up on our schedule was a swim test. Our Waterstarters got a chance to cool down as they swam and showed off their floatation skills in Ferry Reach. We then returned to Clark Lab, our home base, for a more detailed overview of the course expectations and opportunities. We then moved on to our first lesson in scuba theory. Excitement for our first dive is starting to build!

After a snack break and boat safety briefing, our Waterstarters got their first chance to get a taste for the water at a few different snorkeling locations. Our first stop was Cooper's Island, a nature reserve whose waters were teeming with parrotfish, French grunts, trunkfish, snappers, sergeant majors, surgeonfish, comb jellies, and many more species. We all had lots of fun swimming around and down to the ledges and drop offs to find fish hidden below! Once everyone returned to the boat, we took a quick lunch break and then set off for the Pelinion shipwreck. Only about a ten-minute journey from Cooper’s Island, this wreck was much deeper water and made for a completely different experience. The comb jellies were thickly distributed around the wreck, and large groups of sergeant majors swam right up close to our adventuring Waterstarters. A quick rainstorm passed through as we snorkeled around this site, which made for a bit more excitement as well!

We returned to BIOS at 3:30pm to discuss the day's sights and experiences and record it in our Waterstart logbooks. We also started a critter list to add to throughout the week – it’s quite a long list after only one day! Finally, we took a quick quiz to reinforce the scuba theory we learned earlier in the day. Our Waterstarters were impressive in their quick answers. Our day finished up at 4:30pm. We can’t wait to get these Waterstarters back here tomorrow and out into the water – with scuba gear!

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