Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
Rather than the usual wake-up schedule, the crew has become accustomed to; the day started at various times for everyone aboard. With the option to explore before breakfast, runners, walkers, coffee, and tea drinkers dispersed at first light in the beautiful city of Port Louis. Regrouping for a breakfast of egg and veggie burritos, tales were told of cappuccinos and morning tunes listened to, and backpacks were filled with essentials for the full day of diving to come. We then split into two groups, piled into vans, and watched with interest and awe as the dramatic mountain ridges and expansive sugar cane fields passed by on the drive to the beach. Upon arrival, gear was assembled in the Atlantis dive shop boats. After a quick shuttle to the first dive site, seated backroll entries were executed, and divers descended onto a shipwreck. Sitting upright in the sand, the wreck looked impressive in the light that penetrated down into the water column. Starting close to the bow in the sand, all sorts of organisms could be seen using the artificial reef as their home; everything from sponges to nudibranchs, mantis shrimp, and various fish species covered every inch. Even without additional lights, the bones of the ship were visible in several places, and there were many openings to look into to catch glimpses of the inner workings of the old vessel. Divers were greeted by a resident porcupine fish at the end of the dive before ascending and heading back to shore for lunch. The second dive of the day, also the last dive of the trip, was at a site called the Aquarium, the naming of which became obvious once in the water. Though much shallower than the first dive, light pink and purple soft corals could be seen all over the reef, along with corals and fish of every color. We followed the spur and groove formations, crossing long channels of sand in between large patches of coral. Highlights of the dive included several dinner plate-sized crowns of thorns, sea stars, small eels swimming in the open, and other brightly colored invertebrates. Surfacing was met with excitement-filled chatter about the dive and congratulations on the successful completion of the last required training dive for the advanced open water certification. Once back on, Argo Mexican dinner night ensued, complete with veggies and beef fajitas, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Since the night is still young, students scattered back into the city for post-dinner walks and ice cream before turning in for the night before another full day ashore tomorrow.