Location: Tioman, Malaysia

Day 68 was another beautiful day here on Argo. We woke to the view of Tioman, Which can only be described as one of those views where when you see it, you simply can’t help but stop and realize where you are and sigh in complete bliss. After breakfast, we picked up anchor in paradise and moved a short distance away to a small island. Along the way, we picked up two divemasters from B&J Dive shop in Tioman who were going to lead us on a mission. This mission was scientific in nature, with the objective: help protect a coral reef. The game plan: eliminate every crown of thorns that crossed our path. Wait, eliminating wildlife helps coral reefs? That doesn’t make much sense. Oh, but it makes perfect sense when you understand what crown of thorns is capable of in large groups. Naturally, these starfish exist in small numbers and are helpful for keeping staghorn coral populations in check (staghorn coral grows like a weed, in coral terms, anyway). However, when an outbreak occurs, such as the one that Tioman is currently dealing with, the crown of thorns ran rampant (at a very slow pace) and ate all of the living coral, which means the entire ecosystem in that area dies off. Bye, bye Nemo 🙁 No need to worry, though. There are groups of people dedicated to controlling these outbreaks and protecting coral ecosystems from unnecessary destruction. We were a part of such a mission today. So we all suited up in our dive gear and headed out to the dive site. We were armed with our crown of thorns knowledge and long, pointy injection guns. Each crown of thorns had to be injected five times with the poison before it was considered eliminated. The hunt for these creatures included a search team that was armed with tank bangers (metal objects which were banged on tanks to get the attention of someone with an injection gun) and those who were in charge of the injection guns. The Crown of Thorns Massacre (as our captain, Kris, called it) was successful, and with 16 fewer crowns of thorns wreaking havoc on coral everywhere, our leg of the mission was complete.

We came back to Argo, got the divemasters back to shore, and jumped in the ocean for showers. It is such a simple part of life that is easy to overlook, but with so little time left, a few of us took a few moments to acknowledge how lucky we are. Our showers, while a tad unconventional, are taken in the ocean after jumping off a sailing yacht that we live on and have been sailing around Southeast Asia. If we aren’t lucky… I don’t know who is!
According to my parents, most of these posts end with something about dessert. I feel that this tradition should continue – Annie surprised us with a ridiculous amount of delicious chocolate chip (with some surprise Oreos bits in some- thanks, Hunter) and oatmeal almond cookies!