10.06.2009

First Dive in Paradise

It was a festive morning when I learned I could go out diving with the scientists as they set up underwater cameras to view stingray activity. For lunch I decided a homemade pizza would make day even better.

As you can see it's stuffed crust.
Getting all the gear together.
Before diving we paid a visit to a neighboring island.
Wind generator was howling.

Then off we went.
For the first bit Brian and I just snorkeled to get the cages in place. We had to find a soft sandy spot where the stakes could be put in easy. One cage was for the bait fish that would lure in the stingrays for investigation and the other cage was for the video camera to record the stingray activity around the bait fish. In general, Alex is focused on watching how the males act in comparison to the females. Yesterday we talked about all the factors that may determine where male stingrays can be found... temperature of water, predators, pollution, moonshine, sunshine, state of metabolism, etc. When stingrays are in warm, shallow waters their metabolism works fast thus they need to replenish more frequently. When they decide to rest they move to deeper, cooler waters where the body processes work slower. Very much like how in hot climates my metabolism speeds up and in cold climates I'm sure to put on some weight.
Here's Alex getting the camera ready.
Brian and the bait fish.
With the bait fish and camera in place we had to wait an hour to let the camera and sting rays do their jobs. During the wait period Brian decided to give me a few lessons in diving. As soon as I jumped in and began breathing with the tank I loved it. At first I kept using my arms like I was trying to swim, but Brian told point to my flippers and showed to let my hands rest and let the legs do all the work. I'm a runner and using flippers requires different leg muscles, it's going to take some time to readjust my leg motions. We decided to keep underwater for 20 minutes and circled around a few reefs patches.
Christmas tree worm.
After the dive Alex and Brian went back to pick up the camera and bait fish.
I wouldn't mind living there.
Pizza was a great start of the day and I felt that we should finish it off with a steak dinner. Fried plantains with chocolate and nutmeg for dessert.
Mashed potatoes.
Steak on a barbie with grilled squash in the background.
The moon arose and after dinner we all moved out to the beach to talk about life and good times. We covered everything from 2012 (again) to native beliefs to stingray research to guitar lessons to where to find the best rum. I brought out my guitar, Brian brought out the rum and mango juice, and the rest just brought their stories and laughter. It was an amazing time and we decided that at least once a week we need to do this. We'll consider it an 'all hands meeting'. When everyone started stretching out and laying down on the sand to stare up at the fullmoon I decided it was time for me to take off and get some photos of the moon and palm trees. I won't be around for the next full moon on this island (I always transition on moons) so why not soak up the moonshine while I can eh?

video