11.13.15 Day 6: Saying Goodbye to Aquarius – Martha

This post is dedicated to Nana.  May your peace be as profound as the sea.

Well, here I sit, finishing up the last video observation before calling it a night after another fun day of science and diving!  We began the morning with the news that there is a cold front on its way and we will not be able to spend the night in the Aquarius tomorrow.  Although this seemed unfortunate, it was actually good news for Amy and Andrea, who may be able to join us for our rescheduled overnight stay, whenever that may be.  We all understand that weather cannot be controlled and we’re so ecstatic that we had the amazing weather we had for the last few days.

After our morning meeting, we did head out on the calm blue water for another day of science diving.  We’ve completed the Aquarius habitat visits and will not be conducting any more VFTs, so we alternated diving with the science team.  Again, we had fun swapping out cameras and changing algae tiles with the scientists.  We were also lucky enough to get an extra “fun dive” with the four teachers together so that we could finally get a photo of us through the habitat looking out the window.  We explored the reef, a trio of spotted eagle rays coming in and out of view the whole time.  We saw Nassau groupers, moray eels, and massive snappers.  We spent surface interval time “chilling” with everyone once again, grading science tests (at least I was), and enjoying the view of the open seas and sun.

It was fantastic to be greeted back on shore with a burger BBQ from Hank (from Aquarius) and his wife.  Thank you so much you two!  We enjoyed winding down, chowing down, and receiving our Honorary Aquanaut certificates.  We had to say goodbye to Melissa (see you soon!) before settling in for another night of video observations, data entry, and camera downloading. The team was interested to hear from someone from FIU who called to tell them a shark was viewed in the sonar while we were working. We’re about to call it a night, and although we will not be diving with the science team tomorrow, we are still looking forward to a “data day” where we will help look through videos and compile more data from the reef study.

I feel that I’ve been inspired by this program and the opportunity to be immersed in an actual research project.  I hope to be able to be trained to volunteer as a science diver during my summers off from school and to sharing more of this experience with my students. We’ll be out on the water studying the reef soon!

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