06-01-2017

9:23 PM AEST
Phew! Done sifting sediment now it's on to writing up our findings. Turns out there is more plastic on the beach than in the lagoon. Not a lot, but definitely more.

The class swam out to the conservation side of the island today. The coral growth there is much denser than most of the areas we've been working on, with many giant clams and many, many fish. We also stumbled across a small eel and another octopus. We grabbed our instructor Trisha because after our last encounter (which she missed), Edd told us that Trisha has really wanted to see octopus, so today she got her wish. He wouldn't come out of his hole, but he was there.

Our second swim trip was smaller: Edd, Colten, Audree, and I went swimming out around 4:30. The weather had deteriorated--the wind had picked up, the sky was dark, and the water choppy. As we stood on the beach getting ready, sand stung at our skin and we were eager to hit the water to escape it. When we got in, we discovered a significant current. The lagoon where the boats dock is off-limits to swimmers until 5 PM, but the current was so strong that I thought I was going to end up there whether I wanted to or not. I'm a weak swimmer, so I almost turned back, but the current eased off as we got farther from the beach, so we swum out to the wreck that sits at the edge of the channel that boats use to travel to and from the island. There we were shielded form most of the waves and the wind.

Turns out a lot of marine life went there for the same reason. There must have been dozens of parrotfish, jacks and the like, along with a school of small, shimmery fish, a grouper or two, and probably five or so sea turtles. The turtles let us get in quite close, and I think I got some good footage of one.

Edd was poking around in front of us, popping down to look at things. Quite abruptly he popped back up practically screaming about a massive shark. He had poked his head into a hole only to find that it was already occupied by a shark which was apparently just as startled as he was and shot out past him, thoroughly startling him before disappearing off into the blue. No real threat after the initial panic moment, but it freaked him out.

I'm quite pleased with how that second swim turned out. I haven't felt very strong in the water, but I think I'm finally starting to become proficient in snorkeling. Today's rough seas were challenging, but also a confidence booster. Still, that current was a force to be reckoned with, and I'd be wary of tangling with it again. The buoyancy of my wetsuit means that I can float essentially indefinitely, but the idea of being swept away to God knows where stirs a rather primal fear. Or maybe I'm just a wimp.

But currents aside, I'm feeling pretty good about snorkeling now. Just in time for the class to be over in three days so I can return to my home thousands of miles from the sea. Here's hoping for another opportunity to snorkel in the future.
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