Yellow stingray and remora footage

Here are two of the animals we encountered on our last dive of the trip, Bimini Road. A little yellow stingray quickly buried itself in the sand after it saw me (see video). We also saw countless southern stingrays and an eagle ray during the trip.

Here's the yellow stingray:

This remora showed up when the second group of divers got in the water at Bimini Road. It hung around with us for about a half an hour. Remoras will attach themselves to larger animals by using a modified sucking disk on their heads. They will slide backwards along an animal's body to create suction and then release themselves by swimming forward. We actually saw two of them hanging out on the back of a loggerhead sea turtle when we dove the Hesperus wreck the previous day. Luckily this one didn't feel like attaching to any of us! (Which doesn't hurt, I've had one stick on me before.)

Here's the remora:

- Sarah


Swimming with spotted dolphins!

Thanks to everyone who followed the blog while we were in the Bahamas! We couldn't post any movies from the boat because the files were too big to upload using the satellite phone. It seems technology can only take us so far! No matter, we still want to share some of our underwater experiences with our faithful blog readers. We'll upload more videos from the trip over the next few days.

As you already know, we had the good fortune to snorkel and free dive with four spotted dolphins (two mothers and two calves.) The calves are lighter in color and the mothers have darker coloration and spots. I took this short movie so our readers could share this amazing experience with us. Here it is!

- Sarah

Last dive in the Bahamas

Our last dive in the Bahamas. It was one of the saddest experiences during the trip while at the same time one of the most beautiful. We jumped into the water, and at last it seemed so natural to begin diving.

Getting ready to dive

I dove and began to look around Bimini Road, which some people think of as the Lost City of Atlantis. A stretch of natural rock formations went as far as I could see. Mind you this "lost city" did not resemble an example of a city at all. However the dive was beautiful. The coral, shallow water and blazing sun, combined for a magical experience.

In the water

Among the rock formations

There were so many colorful fish from crunching parrotfish to juvenile French angels seeking cover under rocks. After spending almost an hour under water I still did not want to leave; however, it was a perfect last dive for a perfect week. SEA TURTLE was an amazing once in a life time experience which I'll never forget.

Last sunset in the Bahamas



Making new friends in Bimini

On the steps of the All Age School in Bimini

We visited the All Age School on the island of North Bimini to meet with some of the students there. Since it was Earth Day, the school held an assembly outside as a form of celebration and we were lucky enough to be able to watch it with them. Afterwards, we met with some of the students of our age and were able to socialize with them. It was incredibly enlightening to see how similar our lives were although we live in such different places. Visiting the school allowed us to see part of the Bimini community that we could relate to very well.

Here's a video clip of our welcome to the All Age School in Bimini:

Thank you to Mrs. Eliot for letting us come to your beautiful school!

- Tori and Oriana

Snow vs. Sand. Bahamian Conch vs. Maine Lobsters. There are lots of differences between Boston and Bimini, but visiting the All Ages School made it apparent that all teens share a special bond. We are all pretty similar despite the obvious geographical differences. Throughout the trip I have been putting my photo class skills to use! I shared my photos of the underwater world with the teens we met. One of the boys, Romad, shared a great interest in photography with me. It was exciting to talk to him about our love and enthusiasm for a common interest! He has hopes of studying photography in the states. I hope to see your photos in National Geographic one day! I can't wait to see the landscape and studio photos you promised to share with me. Keep in touch!

Romad and his camera

Meeting Bimini students

New friends

- Jacki


Turkey shark vs. Sea Turtles: They’ll never be the same…

Little does anyone know that trailing the R/V Coral Reef II this entire trip has been a 100 foot long creature with a long green body and an orange snout known only to the SEA TURTLERs as the infamous...turkey shark or Turkomostoma gobblii. This menacing creature almost claimed the lives of eight SEA TURTLEs on various occasions. The first incident occurred on Day Two when we saw the dolphins. Evan nearly lost his foot when the turkey shark made its first move. Later in the day, Jenna was unexpectedly pulled under by the still hungry creature and miraculously it was captured on film (see movie below). Eyewitness Kylie reported that, "It all happened so suddenly!"

The turkey shark lay low for a few days with only minor incidents until the night of our second night dive. Kylie, the third victim reports, "As the group was descending, all of a sudden, something grabbed my regulator. When I turned around to see what it was - I felt the turkey shark engulfing me! It wrapped its rough green body around my tank of air! I was in shock!" As much as we fear the turkey shark, it was necessary that we keep it near the boat during every dive. All of us are safe, although emotionally scarred.

P.S. The turkey shark, Turkostomata gobblii, is the safety line and orange float that trails behind the boat during every dive.

- Jenna and Kylie


Sharks & Sea Turtles & Mangroves Day

Evan’s notes on the Hesperus wreck dive

Swim with nurse sharks, check! Swim with loggerhead sea turtles, check! Two things checked off my list today. Today we dove the Hesperus wreck and it was full of life! There was an abundance of life on this dive. By far it has to be the best site yet. As I found myself swimming towards the nurse shark I was like, Evan, what are you doing? Are you swimming towards a shark? I definitely was. What’s even more shocking is that I wasn’t scared. I was actually comfortable. Once again, I was a little out of my element but I was equipped and educated.

Loggerhead sea turtle on the Hesperus wreck

Nurse shark on the wreck

Jacki & Isaiah’s notes on snorkeling through mangroves

Mangroves in Bimini

Have you ever heard of trees that snorkel? Commonly known as mangroves, these trees have roots that pop out of the water like snorkels to get the ever so important oxygen that they require to thrive in salty water. This sheltered habitat is specific for the development of juveniles. We saw checkered puffers, juvenile sergeant majors (so cute!), cushion sea stars (massive! click here to see a picture), and lots of spotted sea hares.

Two checkered puffers

Spotted sea hare

One of the sea hares was even found all by its lonesome in super shallow water on the sand flats. Our time on the flats after snorkeling the mangroves was the perfect time to finally stretch our legs and run around! On the way back to the Coral Reef II (we used smaller boats to get into the mangroves) we precariously hung off the side of the speed boats with our masks on to spot southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays, and barracudas!

Running on the sand flat

- Jacki and Isaiah

EXTRA CREDIT: Learn about mangroves in Belize from Aquarium researchers on the Global Explorers Blog!


We're not in Boston anymore...

Jane’s notes

This trip is astonishing. Every experience has been fantastic. The warm sun and the cool blue water are just perfect. Yesterday, Sarah, Nick, Mary, Jo, Jenna and I went snorkeling in a small group before lunch. We swam out into the ocean and found giant cushion sea stars the size of dinner plates amongst the vast gardens of eel grass. Multiple times we dove down to pick them up and examine them. Swimming around the surface of the water we enjoyed the scenery for about half an hour before returning to the boat for lunch.

Bahamian cushion star

Snorkeling out into the ocean was wonderful, but of course there must always be a favorite part of the trip; mine so far has been snorkeling at the Sapona wreck. It was amazing being able to swim through the remarkable splendor of the wreck even though it is also sadly falling apart. Chef Matt informed me that one more hurricane may reduce the Sapona to a pile of rubble because of its current condition. I’m glad to be able to swim through this beauty before that ever happens.

View of the R/V Coral Reef II from inside the Sapona

The warm water and schools of fish around the Sapona were fabulous. This artificial “coral” house proved itself to be very useful to the fishes that call it home. We saw an abundance of grunts. I found it truly incredible listening to the snapping shrimp. The clicking noise was amazing.

Corals growing on the side of the

Evan’s notes

Out of my element? Well, maybe just a little bit. As I swam towards the Sapona wreck, I grew more and more anxious to see all the life in, out, and around the wreck. The Sapona site was a very beautiful thing to see, especially knowing the history behind the vessel it once was. In the day light it was nice, but the suspense of the night was a feeling I will never forget! Since the Sapona was my second night dive this week, I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt ready and equipped. The amount of life living in and around the Sapona was unbelievable; there were thousands of creatures and I was just one of them. I saw coral, sponges, southern stingrays, conchs, bluestriped grunts and my second porcupine fish. I was really hoping to see a scorpion fish. Next time.

Diving the

Schools of grunts inside the Sapona

Hey from Bimini!











Diving the Sapona wreck at night

The wreck of the Sapona during the day.

Nick dives in at night.

I grew nervous at the thought of doing a night dive in a ship wreck. I let the air out of my BCD and I began to work my way to the bottom of the ocean floor. Surrounded by an inky blackness I looked towards my fellow divers. Soft colored lights, from our glow sticks, dotted the water as we moved towards the wreck. We entered the cage like structure with anxious excitement. The Sapona resembles a flecked castle claimed years ago by the sea. While exploring the inner portion of the wreck we came upon a lone puffer fish. The animal swam within the reach of our rays and then just a gently drifted back into the darkness from which it came. I looked towards the alien bottom and saw a southern stingray elegantly gliding below. As I looked around at this strange new world I never thought I would be in a place like this. Life has an interesting way of offering you beautiful surprises. I am now learning how to receive these prizes with enthusiasm and gratitude.

Inside the wreck of the Sapona

- Nick

[You can read previous expedition posts about diving at the Sapona wreck here and here.]


Hot Tea with Lemon ... Sharks!

This morning we were welcomed at the Bimini Biological Field Study research center where they do lots of research on sharks, specifically ones called lemon sharks.

Off to see the sharks!

Field Station

The research that they are conducting on the lemon sharks is incredible. I loved hearing about the use of the collected data for conserving the North Sound of Bimini (the islands we have been diving around in the Bahamas). Lemon sharks spend their early years swimming about the mangroves bordering the shore, which provides great protection from the hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, and other large organisms living in the deeper waters outside of Bimini Bay.

Juvenile lemon shark

After hearing about the research and conservation we actually got to see one of the juvenile Lemon Sharks being studied. To get a closer look the head scientist carefully turned the shark on its back, which puts it into a hypnotic state.

Sleepy shark

That is how they are able to control the shark while inserting small tracking chips and transmitters without needing to use anesthetics. The shark’s dermal denticles (their skin) felt awesome! It was a great experience to see a field study center!

- Jacki


This Monday-not so bad!

From Alex

It’s already Monday! We woke up and ate breakfast…on a boat…just another normal day. We went outside, threw on wetsuits still damp from yesterday’s dives, put on tanks, BCDs, masks and snorkels and finally entered a different world.

Alex underwater

It’s been another cloudy day down in the Bahamas, but it isn’t stopping us. We have done three dives today. We already finished our first dive at the Paquet Rocks dive site and completing our second dive at Green Heads (two large coral heads). Our third dive was after dinner and it was our first night dive. Even though I have been diving for a few years, this was my first night dive. It’s was exciting, and I know for a fact it was wicked awesome.

Enjoying some time above water


From Nick

Upon recent reflection I have realized that I have been blessed with the divine opportunity to not only explore my passions at full force but to do so with nine other amazing teens. Over the last few months I have grown alongside peers that I am confident will one day be proud and powerful stewards of our world’s waters.

Nick and Isaiah working on skills

These fantastic young people prove that hope exists for our blue world. A team began this adventure, but we will return a family. All of our accomplishments have been achieved as a result of hard work and care from our astounding adult leaders. I will never be able to describe their impact on our lives. I only hope one day we can change the world as much as they have.

Underwater with the team


Chocolate muffins and certification

Kylie's notes

As usual, today we woke up early. The chef on the boat made delicious chocolate muffins, which made the morning much better. Then, we had a chalk talk about the morning’s first dive, out of the three for the day. Diving is mighty tiring, but worth it, because it’s amazing! After our debrief, we got our dive gear ready, which is becoming much easier nowadays. Our first dive on the surface, we went over basic skills such as the tired diver tow, which is EXHAUSTING to do! For our second dive, we finished our certification where we had to remove our mask and clear it underwater (my least favorite skill to do). I absolutely despise taking off my mask. It is dreadful. But I did it, and became certified with all the other teens! Hurray!

Jane, Mary, Kylie, Oriana, and Evan

Isaiah, Jackie, Tori, Nick, and Alex

- Kylie

Jacki and Oriana's notes

We are officially DIVE CERTIFIED!! We woke up to a cloudy, rainy morning aboard the Coral Reef II. Isn’t it supposed to be sunny in the beautiful Bahamas? Living on the boat is beginning to feel natural even though we haven’t interacted with anyone except SEA TURTLES for the past couple days. The first certification training of the day was at 8:30am. Despite the strong currents, we were able to accomplish everything from buddy-tow to BCD removal and replacement. Then at 11:00am we made our way back in the water for our final certification dive, which included navigation and complete mask removal (eek!). We had to fully remove the mask, exposing our entire faces and being unable to see was an uncomfortable challenge in itself.

From left to right: Barb, Oriana, Alex, Sarah, Tori, Jacki, and Nick

From left to right: Kylie, Jane, Sarah, Mary, Barb, and Evan

- Jacki and Oriana


Is this real?

Mary's notes
I was downstairs when I heard a yell from upstairs, “Dolphins! There are dolphins!” At first I thought someone was making a joke, but I ran up the stairs anyway. As I came up to the salon (our common room/dining area) my fears that it was a prank were diminished, someone was yelling, “There are dolphins at the front of the boat!” I crashed through the door and out onto the deck and there right over the railing were four spotted dolphins—two moms and their two calves. We got the ‘ok’ from the captains and Sarah to get on our snorkels and flippers and get into the water. It was an amazing experience. Even after we entered the water they chose to stick around; they seemed just as interested in us as we were in them. They allowed us to dive down and take pictures; we were so close to them it was unreal.
Photo of the spotted dolphins by Captain Lou Rothchild
- Mary
Evan's notes
I was resting after our exciting morning seining session when all of a sudden, everybody was gathered at the bow of the boat looking at these dolphins so my first reaction was to put on my booties then wait for the okay. As I approached the bow of the boat Captain John said “Dolphins! Why isn’t anyone in the water?” Then, all of the teens looked at Sarah and Barbara with puppy eyes and after a few seconds, we received the okay! Being two steps ahead of everyone I grabbed my fins, mask, and camera and jumped right into the water with the dolphins. I guess the dolphins were just as excited to see us as we were to see them, because they stuck around for quite some time and swam with and around us. This was when the trip became real for me. Wow! I am really swimming with dolphins!
Evan giant striding
- Evan
[Read a post about swimming with dolphins from a previous Bahamas Expedition here.]

Notes from the field

Notes from Isaiah

The moment that stuck out to me the most so far was when my classmate, Tori, pointed out that there were dolphins swimming near the vessel. I immediately hurried outside to see them. Once I saw them I was amazed! I'd never seen a dolphin in real life and today I fulfilled that dream in the Bahamas. We were even given the opportunity to snorkel with them. I also took advantage of taking a couple of pictures. I am looking forward to seeing more animals as the experience progresses.

Isaiah strikes a pose.


Notes from Tori, Jacki and Oriana

Day three aboard the Coral Reef II: Today was most definitely an incredibly eventful day! We began the day with a beach seine, where we encountered a large variety of different animals, including being welcomed by a few southern stingrays! We recorded all the animals that we caught in the seine net. My job (Tori) was to snorkel behind the net to make sure it did not get caught on any rocks or other objects. I noticed one ray got caught for a moment, but with the help of Captain John it was safely released. Seeing stingrays in the wild, and being so close, was “mudda sick” (Bahamian for “wicked cool”.)

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to seine we go!

Fishes we collected and released.

Not long after the seine, dolphins were spotted off the starboard side of the boat, and we were granted the opportunity to snorkel and observe them from a distance. Once under the water, you could even hear their vocalizations. It was amazing that the dolphins swam so close to the boat, and stayed around for so long.

The two dives of the day were very amazing as well! We saw spotted moray eels (Jacki’s absolute favorite), lionfish, and triggerfish. Even the dolphins made an appearance while we completed the certification skills underwater. Only one more dive until we are certified!

- Tori, Jacki, and Oriana