How cool does “scuba boot camp” sound?! Those words have described my past five days and the coming week. Scuba boot camp is pretty unreal. In the past four days, we’ve done 6 dives, learning skills and just drifting above the reef. Sadly I have no pictures because we’re not allowed to take cameras while doing training dives, but the concept is so weird to think about, going scuba diving for class (and a grade.) Can you imagine that?
Luckily, we’re not graded on how great our scuba diving is, because my buoyancy is trash. Basically, controlling your buoyancy is what keeps you from floating like an ice cube, or sinking like a cinder block. I’m really buoyant because 1) I’m small and 2) I’m wearing a 5mm suit (the thicker the neoprene, the more buoyant you are) which means I have to wear about 18 pounds in my BCD (Buoyancy control device) in order to sink a little in the water. It’s a tough skill to learn, but I’m quickly learning how to control my position in the water column just by breathing. I haven’t ran into and killed any coral so that, too, is a plus.
The reef is also an awesome place to dive because of all of the species diversity here. I (reluctantly) learned how to identify a little over 100 species of fish, so as we were diving this week, I was able to identify a ton of fish species as they swam past me! It’s actually really cool. Yesterday, I was swimming along and a blue tang swam right up to my face and followed me for about 50 meters. That same day, while we were doing buoyancy exercises, we saw two HUGE tarpon. I didn’t have a good way to compare the size since the tarpon were swimming above me, but a friend who was snorkeling above everything said they were about 4 and a half feet long. My dive instructor for the day said that it’s rare to see them during the day because they usually hunt at night, and will follow night divers around in hopes that the flashlights we use will shine light on their prey. I would LOVE to see a fish as large as a tarpon hunt, and we have a night dive in two weeks so maybe I’ll get lucky!
On another predatorial fish note, a barracuda followed my dive buddy and me in the shallows while we were doing more training exercises. He was just at the bottom of the floor watching us. Creeeepy and also pretty sweet.
Again, I wish I had pictures to share of my dives, but maybe after next week!
Shout out to everyone back home, may you see the sun soon! And shout out to Salina, she probably won’t see this but I promised her I’d do this. Te awero!