Location: Bitter End, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Today, in what seems to be the trend of the week, we kept closing circles. After the MTE final yesterday, it was our turn for the last of our Rescue Diver scenarios, as well as Marine Biology. In addition, we could enjoy some bittersweet coffee at the same pub where we enjoyed some of our first pool games 71 days ago.

The day had a brilliant start with bacon and eggs and with good news: Everybody has passed the Emergency First Response exam. When the group was getting ready for a busy day of Marine Biology (papers, species logbooks, species I.D. test, the last quiz…), we were surprised by the last of the Rescue Diver course scenarios. At the same place where many of us took our first step into the depths, the same waters where some, back then, we were basically trying not to float away with the current, at this very same North Sound, we have come so far that today we were able to “save” two “unconscious non-breathing” divers (Nick and Jack played great victims). We managed to coordinate the team, find the victims, and get them safely on board. There, somehow, they turned into hair-and limb-less pale dummies we could practice CPR on. We closed the diving circle by going over the scenario and discussing our performance as a team.
After debriefing, it was time for a re-start on Marine Biology… And for the second breakfast onshore, Bitter End style: A little bit of shopping, wifi access, sitting on a sunny, breezy terrace with great views, and, no, not pool this time, but foozball (Team Science wins!).
In the afternoon Marine Biology’s species I.D. quiz took place. Closing more circles: At the same location at which, we got in contact with mangrove swamps and with the first of many marine friends yet to be discovered. The quiz should not be a problem now that we have become familiar with the colorful Caribbean biodiversity, even when it included some of Momo’s best impressions of marine species for bonus points (A key is provided below, nevertheless. Although probably nobody will need it other than to confirm I.D.s, right?).
A little break was necessary to oxygenate the neurons and for shower time, which was successfully combined into J.B.’s overdue diving competition. It involved judges, although the scoring system was somewhat peculiar. Worst…aaaah….least good performance was awarded a conch (equivalent to zero points). The technique (or lack of it) displayed in that case could be recognized because the diver sank like a – wait for it….conch. The next better score was that of a sea cucumber (two points), characterized by a relatively scary or eviscerating jump. The scale was followed by sea stars (four points) and octopus (six points). On the other end of the bar, the best performances were recognized with a seahorse when at least elegant (eight points), a dolphin if beautiful (ten points), or an Adelie penguin, the best divers in the animal kingdom, if impressive (twelve points). It was a tight competition, and the divers did not make it easy for the judges to agree on a winner. Especially since the judges kept rotating quite a bit (Team Science first, assisted at some point by Mike, Casey, and/or Carly) due to some multitasking issues (judges are jumping in the water themselves, coaching, species I.D. quizzes still going on, etc.) and because at some point the contestants decided to join forces and perform synchronized dives. However, if a decision for a winner needs to be made, it would probably fall on J.B. He did not quite manage to jump out of the water and elevate himself 2-3 meters in the air to land safely on board Ocean Star. Still, he showed the most persistence and closed another of the circles of the week, literally: Even after some eviscerating Superman-style, and octopus-like belly flops, he insisted and finally did it. J.B. made a backflip.
After our showers, there was dinner and team squeezing. Unanimously we agreed that an SCS 2014 reunion is going to be necessary at some point. Some discussion is in place, though, on where it should be.
Marine Biology quizzing, especially grading, is still going on (23:04, Bitter End time, GMT -5) in order to completely close that cycle. Updates on that will follow.

P.S. Key to confirm I.D.s for Momo’s best impressions of marine species: A) lionfish, B) seahorse, C) angelfish, D) shark (duuuh!), E) turtle.