February 2013
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My January: Real-life Finding Nemo

It was the only way we could describe what we were seeing every day. “The Drop off!!” “The Big Blue!” Surrounded by schools of bright purple and black fish of all shapes and sizes, a day instantly became the best day ever when we spotted a sea turtle. Tropical beaches, palm trees and clear turquoise waters? Welcome to my Jan term course- were we felt like we were inside “Finding Nemo.”

The course was entitled, “Scuba Diving the World: Bonaire” and it was amazing! The first three days of the trip, the majority of our group (there were about 18 of us) had to complete our SCUBA training to be certified. Despite thoroughly hating taking off my mask underwater (because then I wanted to breathe in through my nose…a bad idea underwater), we managed to pass all of the tests and exercises underwater with some wonderful, extremely tan, dive instructors. Now we got to do the fun part: real dives!

Breathing underwater is incredible. We dove from the dive dock at the resort, and took boat dives every afternoon. Swimming along, gently drifting over the coral and sea fans I was entranced. Moray eels! An octopus! Squid! Lobsters! Dory! Can you see why this was fantastic?

I was usually among the last people in our group swimming along (with my dive buddy of course). Why? I was too busy looking at everything! I mean, there were seahorses and flounder and I was swimming among large groups of fish close enough to touch! I have two top dives though. One was diving the wreck. Descending 100 feet to find this huge ship in front of me was both the coolest and creepiest thing I’d ever seen. I suddenly became very aware of the incredible fact that I was breathing- 100 feet underwater… And I could help but start wondering what the ship’s last moments had been like. What had the people who were onboard been thinking as it went down? Nobody…nobody died on this right…? (not to my knowledge, no). But being able to swim, and hover, alongside and overtop of this wreck was incredible.

My other favorite dive happened right after the wreck. It was our last day-dive of the two-week trip, and we had a spectacular ending. Not only did we see seahorses, squid, flounder, eels and loads of coral and fish, we saw the prize: not one, but two sea turtles! Yeah. It was pretty epic. I couldn’t resist swimming along side one for several minutes- they’re just incredibly cool.

Our main requirements for the trip were writing in a journal everyday and recording all of our dives in a dive log. But the experiences- and fun- we had were generally too great to completely convey in words. I met some people I never knew before on campus and made new friends, tried new food and learned how to scuba dive. Now that I’m certified for life… bring on the Great Barrier Reef!

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