Well, today was our last day on the island. Come 9:00 tomorrow morning, we are officially no longer residents of the Heron Island Research Station. It was definitely a day to remember though, so it's a very bittersweet feeling.
We started the morning with an early breakfast, then quickly headed out to a final snorkel at the outer reef. I have to say that today's snorkel was the best one we've had this whole trip. The boat ride out was essentially the six flags of the ocean. There were huge swells, and our boat driver had the pedal to the metal. It was a blast. The area where we were swimming had so many incredible colors, shapes, and sizes. I tried to absorb the sight of it into my brain so that I can remember it forever. I hope it works, because it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Halfway through our snorkel it starting raining, which was a surprisingly magical experience. Water above, water below. We also spent a good amount of time doing underwater party tricks, including some lovely dance moves.
After lunch, our research team ran through our presentation one final time. We also spent some time just trying to relax and enjoy our final day here. I read a book, sat outside, and generally tried to forget the fact that they're kicking my sorry butt out of here first thing tomorrow morning. We also went on one final evening swim over the reef flat and into the boat channel. We saw tons of turtles! They must still be sheltering near the island because of the storms we've been having. They're so friendly and adorable. Let me tell you, there is nothing cuter than a turtle breaching for air. Especially when said turtle is a baby.
Pat cooked us a heck of a meal (I'm not sure exactly what he called it, but in my mind it was pork tenderloin with ratatouille). He also made the most amazing fruit and nut pastry with chocolate mousse for dessert. I hope he takes us up on our suggestion for him to open his own restaurant in Logan, Utah. It seems like a wise investment.
After dinner we finally put all of our hard work to the test. Each group gave their twelve minute presentation in front of the rest of the class. It's amazing to me that I've only known these people for twelve days, and yet I felt so proud of every single person. We've all worked so hard and really thrown ourselves into this class, especially our research projects. We've discovered some really cool things about coral reefs and marine wildlife, and I feel like I've definitely grown as a person.
The presentations were followed by a humorous awards ceremony put on by Edd and Trisha. We all got little awards for things we've done throughout the class. Mine was "The Oprah Winfrey Award" because I guess I did a decent job talking into the camera yesterday for the promo video. It's yet to been seen whether the footage will actually make it into the video....
We cleaned basically the whole island (just kidding, it was only the labs and the library), and then we played cards for hours. I feel like I've never laughed so hard in my life. Holly discovered poop on her shoe, and somehow that led into a string of events that included Holly's creepy stare in the window and me getting the privilege of watching both Josh and Susie spit large amounts of water out of their mouths at the same time. It was a hilarious few hours, and we all got continuously more loopy as the time went on. We ended up calling it at about one in the morning (which is essentially the equivalent of 4 a.m. here because we go to bed at 9 every night).
Tomorrow morning we'll finish packing up, clean out our rooms, and hop on the ferry to get out of here. That'll start the basically 36 hour journey home.
Heron, you've been a dream, and I will miss you.
Trying to channel my inner H2O mermaid self^