Location: Roseau, Dominica
Dominica, the nature island, is one of my favorite islands on this trip (although if you ask the students, they’ll tell you I say that every island…). There is such a variation in the landscape, from vertical drop-off wall dives to boiling lakes at the top of volcanoes, and I am really glad that we get to spend a few days here and get to really explore what the island has to offer.
Yesterday, when I walked into the galley to make my morning cup of coffee at 6:30 am, I was extremely surprised to see the crew of Ocean Star awake and already out of bed. This morning, however, was not the same. Last night we had a marine biology review class for my exam tonight, and it’s safe to say that it somewhat sparked some rather needed last-minute cramming last night!
Once everyone pulled their sleepy selves onto the deck, we got ready for our morning of diving with Dive Dominica. Our first dive, Witches’ Point, so-called due to the nature of throwing suspected witches off to see whether or not they died to prove if they were a witch, was a wall dive. We descended onto the sandy bottom by the boat, swam a little away from the land, and over the edge of the drop-off. These dives are always really exciting as it gives you such a wonderful feeling of how vast the ocean is. There were tons of life for us to see, sea whips twisting and extending out from the wall, schools of fish swimming above us as we looked up and lots of different corals and invertebrates. I really enjoy seeing what different species live at different depths and within different habitats along the reef. After our surface interval, which involved everyone’s favorite cake, we went down for our second dive. This dive was over a sloping bottom and a reef called Champagne, so-called because of the bubbles rising up from the sand towards the end of the dive. Dominica is volcanic, and so bubbles are formed as the gases escape from below. It was really interesting to see how the species changed as we got close to the bubbles – there was much less hard coral growth as it cannot survive in the more carbon dioxide-rich environment, and the reef became more heavily sponge and algae dominant. At the end of our dive, we were treated to see another one of my favorite things, a frogfish! This one was bright yellow and normally camouflages itself against a yellow sponge, although it wasn’t doing such a good job of camouflage today as it stood out like a sore thumb against the coral and algae-covered rock!
On return to the boat, we had a seamanship class where everyone learned more about converting magnetic heading to compass headings, followed by study time. Every time I walked into the salon, I was greeted by a sea of learning and some very energetically asked questions! This section has been studying different Phyla and their main characteristics, and so there were Latin names being repeated left right and center along with everyone trying to remember whether the blood and water flow the same way in fish gills or the opposite. (They flow in opposite directions – it’s called a countercurrent gas exchange system. It maintains a concentration gradient that enables oxygen to always go from the water into the blood, creating a very efficient gas exchange system, which is vital as there is such a small percentage of oxygen in the water comparative to air.)
After dinner, we had the quickest clean-up ever as it was time for their exam and then an opportunity to get some wifi and a drink at the local dive shop bar. Fingers crossed for their exams!
Until next time,