I awake at 7:00 AM, and ready myself for breakfast at 7:30 AM. We are to eat and leave to swim by 8:30 AM. I get ready, and wait for the cafeteria to open. For breakfast, I eat fruit, toast, and cereal. return to my room to pick up my swimming equipment.
I am dressed and await for the others for our departure. We will swim in open water, approximately a ten minute boat ride from the island, passed the inner proportions of the reef. Everyone arrives, and we set off for the docks.
I bring sunscreen, my camera, and wear my swimwear to the beach. When we reach the beach, we see a small boat waiting for us. We are instructed to leave anything we do not require, as they will get wet and perhaps fall off the boat. I leave my glasses and my towel.
We walk from the beach into the boat, which cannot get too close to the shoreline without getting marooned. It is difficult for me to see without my glasses, as both of my eyes are less than ideal and sitting worse than -7.0 vision for each eye, and I approach the boat slowly. My professors are behind me to help guide me.
I climb upon the boat and find a seat. Given the size of the boat, I was technically sitting on the edge of the small boat, and needed to find handles to grasp when we began to move. My belongings were under my feet, and I had not applied sunscreen yet.
We depart the beach slowly, but move quickly after the docks. I must hold on to prevent falling either into the boat or out of it. The breeze felt very nice, but I acquired a small headache without my glasses. I see nothing but silhouettes and blue tint around me.
We stop moving, and we are informed on how to exit (jump) from the boat. I let others jump before me, as it was difficult for me to see. I prepare my goggles (we have been taught to line the inside of our goggles with saliva, which helps to prevent fogging in the lenses) and put on my flippers. My partner today is one of my professors, who has graciously offered to stay with me if I need anything.
I exit the boat by holding my mask to my face, and fall backwards off the side of the boat, landing on my back and plunging into the water. I wait for my water suit to lift me back to the surface before I clear my snorkel. The water was warm and pleasant. There are only mild waves as I situate myself. The water is very clear to my surprise, despite our distance from shore.
I begin to swim. There were many fishes and tons of coral, entire beds that I swim above. It is very colorful and pretty. My confidence has risen in the water since my first day, and though I am no expert, I am able to move much more efficiently and quickly through the water. I seldom have issues with my mask or snorkel.
I watch my professors dive very deep into the water, and am excited to see how far they can go down. I wish to join them, but I am much too inexperienced and sluggish in the water. I see other students attempt to dive as well, but very get very far, as it appears some of them are less apt in water as well.
I decide to attempt to dive, despite my multiple layers of water clothes and wet suit providing me with generous portions of buoyancy. I am unsuccessful, and make loud noises as I splash, but I feel I understood what I did incorrectly. I watch my professors dive more, and attempt to mimic their techniques.
I am able to submerge myself underwater, but I still require much force to keep myself below the surface of the water. Even so, I cannot hold my breath for as long as them, and instead continue practicing with my limits. I get better, but still require much practice.
After swimming for approximately an hour and a half, and following students along the reef, we return to the boat, and I again seat myself similarly as before. I do not take off my goggles, however, so that I may see a little better. My goggles are prescription, and work, to an extent, as an awkward replacement for my glasses.
We arrive upon shore at approximately 11:30 AM. I realize I forgot to apply sunscreen, but I fortunately do not burn from what I can tell. I thank my professors for taking their time in staying with me today, and return to grab my dry clothing and shower.
At 12:00 PM, everyone eats. I decide not to have lunch and instead grab only an apple. I import the photos I have taken to my computer and view them. At 1:30 PM, we have another lecture and lab.
Lecture was pleasant, and we afterwards are instructed to put on some of our clothing that we do not mind getting wet, as we are to head to the low-tide shore and take random samples of coral health for a community science program called Coral Watch.
We leave at approximately 3:00 PM, if I recall correctly. I bring my sunscreen and basic water shoes, as well as a UV resistant shirt and pants. I am assigned another partner, and we meet upon the beach. I step into a shaded area and apply sunscreen.
Before we enter the water, we take a large group photo and basic promotional shots for Aimee Tallian, one of my favorite professors at Utah State University. She is attempting to put together a virtual tour for kids to learn about different ecosystems. You can learn more about Aimee, her work, and more at https://www.ourworldofwildlife.com/
When we are finished, we walk into the water. The water is very cold in comparison to the deeper parts of the reef, but a fair portion of the coral is above the surface of the water and I do not get very wet above my knees. Coral Watch requires us only to look at random coral patches (of which there are many) and record approximate colors given a palette to choose from. We require the lightest and darkest shades of the coral, including white for dead, dying, or simply white coral. We take twenty samples, and depart to the lab, where we take a few moments to input our data. We are finished at about 4:30 PM.
When we return, I put on warm clothing, and the other students who had finished decided to go on another group afternoon swim until supper, which was to be at 6:30 PM. I do not swim, but I follow them to the shoreline with my camera. I wish to set up a time lapse of the sunset. I managed to get the footage for the time lapse, but I will require time to process it into video format. It is windy, and I need to hold my hands above my camera to prevent the wind from pushing it into the water, as it was not waterproof and I had opted for the docks.
I return at approximately 6:00 PM, where I begin to write my blogs. At 6:30 PM, I enter the cafeteria to eat. I eat much tonight, having exactly six portions of food. I ate rice and what I assume to be Swedish meatballs. They were very good. After dinner, I spend the next hour and a half (right now) writing my blogs. I will study for my exam tomorrow, for which I have found little time to study for. I am hoping I will do alright. My exam is species identification with scientific names. I have taken many classes that require this, but memorization is not my strongest quality. I am hoping to do well nevertheless.
My name is Serafin Cardeli. I am Twenty years old and studying to become a Conservation & Restoration Ecologist. I wish to combine education, outreach, and legitimate scientific research to better environmental health and increase public awareness through applicable and relatable methodology. I attempt to specialize in all Canids.