11.10.15 Day 3: Can I Stay in Aquarius Forever? – Hillary

day 3 2 day3 1 day3Well I didn’t think that things could get any cooler, but of course they did. I am going to keep this post short because it is almost 8pm and I am at the Aquarius base and the scientists will be back soon. We still have a ton of work to do- download videos from the Gopros that we placed on the reef, analyze the data, and maybe in squeeze a little sleep somewhere.

Today went a bit smoother than yesterday. When I woke up and checked the marine forecast, it said the winds on the reef were 0.0 knots. It literally can’t get any better than that. We got out to the reef around 8:15 this morning and it was flat calm and crystal clear. My first dive wasn’t until 10:30. I got to go back into the habitat, which was super awesome. As we were diving down, we saw two massive goliath groupers, which stuck around for bit. I didn’t have any Skype field trips scheduled for today so I actually got to relax inside Aquarius and really enjoy the moment. I used the phone in the habitat to call my parents and my fiancé and I even sent a shout out to my niece on the video camera. It is the coolest feeling ever, to just sit down at a table, look out the window, and see a fish swim by. There is no feeling in the world that can compare to that. When we went to leave, I accidentally kneeled on some fire coral (this was at about 11:30 this morning) and it is still burning! It is a small price to pay for such an amazing experience.

I got to dive again in the afternoon to help the scientists collect the cameras and the algae covered tiles, and that was really interesting. It is actually really fun and really different to work underwater. Things that seem so simple on land are much more complicated when you are 50 feet down, have a limited air supply, and are constantly distracted by all of the fish surrounding you (that last one might be my own personal problem)!

On the ride home, I sat with Roger and Hank, who are two of the dive operations managers at Aquarius. They are really interesting and knowledgeable and I learned a lot from them. Tonight, we had the Coral Restoration Foundation come and give us a talk about coral and their mission. They are such a great organization. They grow and plant coral on reefs in order to conserve them. I can’t wait to go volunteer with them sometime soon! I have about 8 minutes now until the scientists get here, so I am going to lay on this couch and relax for the first time today. Tomorrow is another day, I can’t wait to see what it will bring!

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