My name is Kabir Aland Parker and I am a sophomore Marine Science/Microbiology & Immunology major at the University of Miami. I was born in Greenwich, Connecticut but have spent most my life in New Delhi, India. I am an American but an international student and studied at an International school in New Delhi before going to Miami. I have grown up diving in the Indian Ocean including Lakshadweep, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, the Andaman Islands, Bali, and Phuket as well as several countries along the Mediterranean. I am fortunate to have learned to dive in the Maldives, which I consider to be my home, underwater. I am also a passionate freediver and spearfisherman. At our graduate campus, the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science, I am a research assistant in The Coral Reef Futures Lab. There we investigate coral-algal symbiosis and its implications under climate change. The date is May 28th, 2017 and here at CCMI we had a superb day. I woke up at about 5:30 in the morning to do some meditation by the beach. Listening to the waves gently caressing the shoreline while watching the sun rise above the brilliant blue Caribbean Sea was breathtaking. I found it hard to get over the fact that all of us are finally here. At around 7:30 I joined my peers in the cafeteria for a quick breakfast before rushing into the classroom to review algae identification before Alli and Drew gave us all a lecture on fish behavior and ID. Lucy arrived just in time to join us after several issues with the not so reliable Cayman Airways, and I think we’re all glad she was able to make it. It was an informative morning, but I believe all of us were itching to get into the water on scuba gear. Yesterday we snorkeled and freedove Cumbers; the dive site’s stunning marine life and drop offs were captivating. We had a lovely bacon-filled brunch, and then proceeded to set up for the two dives. We drove over to Cumbers, put on all our gear, set up into teams, and eagerly entered the big blue. The first dives got us situated with our gear, each other, and thankfully I had a great team made up of Monique, Neel, and CJ, led by Tom who together made the dive rather enjoyable. When we exited the water, the 15 of us seemed so happy that I cannot remember the last time I smiled so hard for so long. Everyone was getting to know each other a lot better, and I’ve got a feeling it’s not only the location but also the people that are going to make this trip one I’ll remember for a life-time. The second dive was even more exciting because we visited the second drop off, which is what made Cumbers famous. Some groups saw a Hawksbill (didn’t look like a Loggerhead to me, Greg!), and others the gregarious Gary the Nassau Grouper.
Something interesting we learned today was that Gary is female. Apparently, a while after the fish was named, a group from CCMI saw her spawn and realized they had incorrectly assumed she was male…oh well. In the evening when we returned from our dives, we ate a quick dinner before starting the presentations. My highlight from the day was listening to them. They were all quite informative, and I learned a great deal about the ocean today thanks to everyone making a solid effort. Noah’s presentation had a very clear porpoise, which was great to sea. Tomorrow we look forward to more diving and learning about a software called CoralNET.
Thank you for your time.
Kabir Aland Parker, University of Miami | Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science