I’m Neel. I am a student at Rutgers University New Brunswick and am a rising senior in the physics program there. This party was like no other I have been too and it was not because it was underwater.
Today is June 11 and today was a day I will never forget! It started early to a bright Sunday sky and the pleasant sound of waves rolling over the beach in the backyard here at CCMI. After a breakfast, we planned to head to out to Cumber’s dive site where we had two of our very first dives. After a bit of a late start and a bumpy ride over, we walked into the water from the beach and proceeded to descend down to the shallow coral wall. This dive was purely a fun dive and to get the lay of the land for our night dive later on! This dive turned out to be quite a fun dive indeed with Lowell leading half the group in which I was in and Greg leading the other half of the group! One of the most exciting fish I saw on this dive were several Scrawled FileFish! (Shown below!)
An interesting tidbit about this fish is that when under attack the Scrawled Filefish hides in a hole and extends spines on their head and pelvis to wedge themselves in the hole to avoid capture. After the dive we headed back to basecamp and worked on our various projects and assignments as we push to finish our posters on our chosen research projects.
After lunch we were given a presentation on bioluminescence and biofluorescence by Tom Sparke. This was such a cool presentation! This was talking about all the deep sea creatures that use a chemical reaction to produce light which is bioluminescence and the creatures that are more shallow that use light or energy to produce more light which is biofluorescence! (SO COOL) A lot of corals near the surface are biofluorescent so Tom explained that our dive leader would use blue UV lights to shine on the corals to allow them to produce more UV light of different colors. To see the light emitted by these colonial organisms we would need to cancel out the blue UV light so we each were given a pair of special glasses to wrap around our dive masks to do just that! Me, having taken a lot of classes on light due to the whole physics deal, was absolutely thrilled about this presentation.
After we scarfed down dinner we all slipped on our wetsuits in preparation for the massive amounts of bloodworms that will swarm towards our lights during the night dive (also because of jellyfish… but really for the bloodworms). The bloodworms are shown in the picture on the cover of this post (Incase you are just as confused as everyone who I show this picture to).
Once we suited up and put our BCD’s and regulators on our tanks we tossed all of our stuff in the truck and piled into the vans. I was ecstatic! Not only was I about to do my very first night dive but also see an underwater rave (light show) produced by coral! This was the coolest dive I had ever done, without a doubt. I saw a Purple Mouth Moray Eel which was the first time I had seen a Moray Eel! The team saw everything from fluorescent cuddelfish to a luminescent Squid to a blue Octopus! To say the least, this dive did not have a dull moment! Once we surfaced we met a whole other light show from the stars. We were speechless… well just for a minute then we couldn’t stop talking about everything that we saw.
Tomorrow we get to sleep in and then get an afternoon full of fun dives seeing the renowned coral wall on the west side of Little Cayman and an un-culled Lionfish site called Rock Bottom! The West Wall is so renowned because it is a sheer drop that extends thousands of feet down. I cannot wait!
Neel Mehta, Rutgers University
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