Location: Rasdhoo Atoll
Today was for sure a day I will always remember. It all started when I had to wake up what seemed like a horde of zombies, only to bring everyone back to life with the most energizing meal known to the human race: oatmeal. Shortly after, it was time to learn about the origins of Pangaea, undersea ridges and trenches, and the science behind plate tectonics. After that, it was time to study even more about our oceans. Ian and I were tasked with researching parrotfish and their love for eating algae off the coral. Just like how the parrotfish clean coral off so it can photosynthesize and at the same time have a tasty snack, it’s the symbiotic relationships that make this crew what it is. Whether it’s Mads and Lucia cracking jokes 24/7 in order to keep the laughter rates acceptable, or Gillian and Sierra discussing the deeper meanings of life itself, I am glad to report that everybody has seemed to have found their place. Their place is as a member of Vela’s crew. The relationships we’ve all built with one another only bring us further towards being a true crew and family.
After a quick cat nap and some tasty lunch, we couldn’t take any more of the overbearing heat from that high noon sun. After all, my grandma says only mad dogs and Englishmen go outside then. Of course, we were out there too. After almost burning our feet on the deck as the Open Water divers set up for the afternoon reef dive, it was time to hop in the boat. After spending several hours on the non-slip desert sand known as Vela’s mid-deck, the cool and clear Maldivian water was much appreciated. The boat ride to the dive site was much longer than normal, but that only meant Seth, Carly, Noah, and I got to feel some nice breeze in order to keep us cool before our dive. Once we were underwater, we all got to look straight down over 3,000 meters and still see just water. Don’t worry, though. We were diving right next to the most beautiful coral reef I’ve ever seen. It just so happens to lie on the very edge of the drop-off to the depths of the Indian Ocean. Suddenly, our amazing instructor Amy signaled a shark was below us. Astonished by this, Noah quite literally lost it in overexcitement, just as John had predicted earlier in the day. Myra kept on kicking my mask with her fins, but it’s okay because I needed some water in there anyways to clear up all the fog. Those symbiotic relationships really are everywhere. My favorite part of the day was for sure spotting a sleeping sea turtle nestled between some coral. I’ve never related more with a sea creature in my life. He was in his zone, not a care in the world, even as us human observers swam by him bubbling with adoration and excitement.
Soon after our napping turtle sighting, it was time to head back. Our reef visit was for sure the highlight of the day for a lot of us; that was until the sun started to go down.
I had lots of trouble getting everybody off the bow to go eat dinner. Angie and Danar, and Max, in particular, wanted their pictures taken. I don’t blame them. That was one of the most beautiful sunsets ever. All of the reds, oranges, yellows, and pink clouds seemed to meld together into this spectacular backdrop for the perfect golden hour photo session. That moment inspired my question of the day for ‘Squeeze’ after dinner: What is the most beautiful thing in nature you’ve seen? For Finley, it was sitting and watching the California sunset after a long day in the water. Kind of sounds like today… What a time to be alive. We’re here in this beautiful archipelago situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, not a care in the world, telling each other our favorite stories of the things we’ve seen around the world. We’ve collectively been to a ton of places, but it seems like the one that really tops it all is here, in the cockpit of Vela, our new home. I’ll never forget today, and I’ll never forget the symbiosis all around us. It’s there, and you certainly don’t have to look very hard to find it.
1. Dylan, Max, and Noah
2. Max, Cate, Noah, and Dylan
3. Snorkel team 6
4. Bird’s eye view
5. The cotton candy sunset