This week students have been busy putting their recently acquired SCUBA certifications to use in their Marine Ecology and Research classes. Here's what students Delphine Carroll and Whit Swanson have to say about their diving experiences. One of the highlights at the Island School for me has been the SCUBA diving experience. Getting certified opened up a whole new world to me underwater. As part of our Marine Ecology Class, we go diving to observe a section of a reef. Only a few feet in dimension, the patch reef that I was assigned to is small compared to the vast expanse of the ocean within which it sits; yet it is so abundant in life. Sea fans adorn the reef on all sides, waving like joyful flags in a parade. In the centre of the arrangement, sticking straight up, is a coral finger that surpasses the rest, forming the pinnacle of the structure. Fish of all shapes, sizes and colors dart around, peep out of holes, and weave between coral and algae, playing tag. Between the masses of network algae, barrel sponges rise up like clay lanterns with intricate designs carved into their walls. If you look around the corner of the reef, a shimmer of light pink and silver, like a hazy vision, hovers just above the rocks. It is a school of Masked or Glass Gobies, whose transparent outline tricks the eye at first, making them appear like phantoms in the forgotten castle of the reef. Around the top of the reef many blue fish, called Blue Cromis, create a false sky, while below in its hideout curtained by oatmeal algae, a big Spiny Lobster lurks, its probing antennas peaking out from the shadows. On one of the dives, during the last few minutes, two big porcupine fish swam out from the larger coral reef right next to mine and the pair swam a loop together. They then went back into their hiding place under a reef shelf, only to re-emerge a few seconds later and swim another loop. It was such an amazing thing to see. From the front, the fish looked like smiley-faces!

Delphine Carroll

Advisor Lisa and her advisees Nat, Margaret, Stephen, and Delphine contemplate diving.

I went scuba diving for the first time about three weeks ago. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  I was not feeling nervous all the way up until I had to put my head under water and breath. It was such a surreal time my dive instructor Rachel was so awesome to she made me feel most comfortable.  The first day of the three day classes was just skills and once we got those over with the third day we went on a boat and we got to do a back roll dive.  My dive buddy was Haley and we were a great team. We went to tunnel rock and Rachel took us through a coral reef tunnel. IT WAS SOO COOL!  We also saw multiple cool fish. Overall this at first nervous experience turned in to an incredible experience I will never forget.

Whit Swanson

Students in the Reef Fish research group take notes during class.