|Leaving the Miami River in the wee hours of the morning|
Once we exited the mouth of the river, the water was very choppy and there was a good amount of sea spray. I decided that a motion-sickness-pill-induced nap was in order, and slept for most of the rest of the crossing. When I awoke again, we were pulling into Bimini! Brightly colored condos and hotels and water the color of jade. Captain John took our passports in to clear customs, and once he returned, we were off to our first dive site – Bimini Road.
|Colorful boats docked in Bimini|
The first dive was a short check out dive, just to get everyone comfortable setting up gear and getting in the water, and used to any gear that is new (or new to them!). I dove with Bill and although the water was super choppy up top, once you get below it was calm and clear. We took a short swim around the rocks – the site is called Bimini Road because there are a stones arranged on the sea floor that look like they might have once comprised a street.
After a quick meeting on deck to swap out tanks and talk about the goals for collecting, we were back in – this time with a mission: collect fish! Sarah wanted the staff to do the first dive together so her, Bill, Dave and I went in as a group. Sarah was intent on catching a juvenile blue tang and we spent most of the dive patiently trying to coax him into our nets. We succeeded, and other catches from the first day included foureye butterflyfish, little parrot fish and I even caught a tiny sharpnose puffer. I had to release him though, because of his small size, but it was a wonderful feeling to have caught something on my first collecting dive!
The Aquarium is very selective in which fish we are able to keep, first they must be on our list of animals that have been requested by aquarists back in Boston. We never collect any animals that are threatened or endangered, and we never take anything that has eggs (shrimp or crabs), and we never take anything too small to survive transportation back to Boston.
I am exhausted but in a very good way, and tomorrow we have even more excitement in store! As always – more to come!!