Takin’ on the jellies

A bunch of people have been asking about my scuba diving and general Bonaire questions so I’ll answer them here!

1. How often do you scuba dive?

In the past 5 weeks, I’ve had a minimum of four dives a week. These were my personal research dives, and each would last about an hour. We also dive to supplement class lectures. For example, we’ll learn how to ID 40 fish and then we’ll dive and survey how many of the fish can find. We also had so learn some simple research techniques, and we would do one or two dives for each technique as well.

2. What was your favorite dive (so far)?

My favorite dive thus far has definitely been the bioluminescence dive. The entire class went to a dive site far from the city, went about 40 ft below the surface and waited about 45 minutes after sunset to watch ostracod spawning. I won’t go into detail about the biology part about it, but they’re tiny little shrimp that light up when they spawn in the water column. If any of you have ever seen the sky on a really dark night, the spawning looks similar to that. The only difference would be that the tiny points of light are right in your face, and they’re gradually flashing on and off in an upwards spiral towards the surface. Really cool stuff. During the same dive, a huge nocturnal predator called a tarpon came up right next to me and I almost pooped myself. (I didn’t.) Tarpon are known to hunt when they see divers at night because divers usually make the hunting easier when we search for small fish with our dive lights. Whoops, sorry fish. Last cool thing I want to remark on were these other species of shrimp (don’t know the name, sorry!) that were were able to catch between our fingers underwater. They literally looked like they were made of glass. Their bodies were almost completely transparent besides their eyes. Incredibly cool, also kind of creepy. It’s interesting what kind of creatures the night brings.

My second favorite dive(s) would be any dive where I saw turtles. Gotta love your charismatic megafauna.

3. What else can you do in Bonaire besides dive?

There’s an awesome national park up north, a donkey sanctuary, windsurfing, kite surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, spelunking, hiking* but really people just come here for the diving.

*hiking here is nothing like hiking in the Rockies or even the Smokies. It would be comparable to hiking up a small hill that you would allow your 8 year old to sled.

4. How is your research going?

For all of you researchers/statisticians out there, I got a p-value of 0.0349!!! For everyone else, that means my results are statistically significant. YAY! The one-and-only-very-final-last-draft is due this Sunday, so in the mean time I will be cranking out my Discussion and Conclusion section before I submit for publication. Hallelujah!

5. Aren’t you a premed?

Yes.

6. What are you doing in Bonaire?

Having more fun that you, obviously….in all seriousness, I went to Bonaire to figure out if I wanted to apply for grad school to do some sort of fun ecology research, or if I wanted to go to med school have fun with the human body. It was a toss up, really. In the end (well sort of the middle, since the program is still in session) I’m sticking with medicine. I honestly can’t deny how excited I got during the SCUBA class where they taught us first responder emergency procedures…..

This semester has still proven to be a success! I’ve experienced the good/bad/ugly of marine biology (scuba diving!/entering and compiling data/realizing your equipment is broken underwater and almost getting decompression sickness) AND have logged over 2 days underwater which is pretty cool!

7. Jellies?

Remember that one scene in Finding Nemo where Dory and Marlin figure out that they won’t get stung by bouncing on the “dome” of the jellyfish? IT’S TRUE. I TRIED IT. OK so I didn’t *bounce* on any jellyfish, but one was in my way so I casually put my palm on the dome and gently pushed it aside. Jellyfish are the smoothest things you will ever have the opportunity to touch. They’re also surprisingly firm, and won’t dent at all if you poke them.

That just about covers it! If anyone has any more q’s I will probably have a’s.

 

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