The lush green island of Dominica woke us with a rainbow this morning. In our oceanography lecture we have heard much about the volcanic origin of the island and were curious to go out and explore it. We packed our dive gear and headed towards our local dive operator, excited to go on our ‘Boat’ and ‘Deep’ Adventure dives which count towards the Advanced Open Water Certifications most of us are currently working on. The first dive was along the steep wall of a volcanic crater, which we followed along its rim, hovering over hundreds of feet of water below us. The highlight of this dive site was a bright orange frogfish, a rarely sighted creature in the marine realm, which at first sight appears to be a sponge rather than a fish. After a surface break and a short boat ride we reached our second dive site, called Champagne Reef. Our guide from ‘Dive Dominica’ did an excellent job pointing out any interesting sea creature we came across: Spotted Moray Eels, a cleaning station with a Pederson’s shrimp, a Basket Star curled up inside a large Barrel Sponge, a large Channel Crab under a ledge….to name a few. When we reached the shallow water we saw gas bubbles originating from the bottom of the sea everywhere. Due to volcanic activity those gases are responsible for the dive site’s name. We all took turns in sticking our hands close to some of the hot freshwater springs found on the reef, another reminder of the volcanic past and presence of the Caribbean Island arc which we are exploring on our trip.
Back ‘home’ on Ocean Star we had another oceanography class studying global and local interactions between the atmosphere and the seas, learning to understand the prevailing wind patterns in the Caribbean and why on islands with high volcanic peaks such as Dominica we find a phenomenon called ‘orographic’ rain. These rain patterns exist because of the prevalent easterly winds, which push warm, moist air up the high peaks, producing clouds and rainfall on the windward sides of the islands. After a study and review session for our sailing class we headed ashore.
Under a full moon’s reflections on the calm ocean, accompanied by the sounds of the tropical rain forest around us we enjoyed a BBQ and night out at Dive Dominica – a perfect final for another perfect day!