Life as a Coral Cay Reef marine diver – Week 2

Lime Kiln Bay, Montserrat

My second week here on Montserrat with Coral Cay Conservation has focused on the skills development program, specifically the science training. We completed lectures on fish, invertebrates and impacts, and substrates. We’ve also been diving to identify all the different specifies under each category, as well as sitting theory tests with 90% pass rates. It’s been a heavy week of study and learning, but I’m so pleased with all the knowledge I have gained. Diving feels so much more enriching now I can identify what I’m seeing. The pictures below have been taken with my Go Pro, and reveal the marine reef world at Lime Kiln Bay, Montserrat.

The elusive lion fish who have become an invasive species in the Caribbean

Soldier/Squirrel fish are characterised by their big eyes and a really tall second dorsal fin.

 

The blue tang is a type of surgeon fish but characterised by the electric blue colour on the edge of their dorsal and anal fins, and a yellow scapel on their cordal peduncle.

 

A single grunt, characterised by a smiley mouth and a pelvic fin that is right angle in shape.

File fish are diamond shaped and have a file above its head that is sometimes upright.

A sea fan that has been diseased with aspergillosis, charactersised by the purple blotches.

A gorgonian with two flamingo tongues on its branches.

Sponges are benthic feeding animals with large openings at the top.


There have been so many other amazing things sighted here on Lime Kiln’s reef including barracuda, trumpet fish, squid, an octopus, lobsters, shrimps, pencil and long spined sea urchins. The marine world continues to be amazing and must be protected and preserved above profit and money.
ALL TEXT and IMAGES COPYRIGHT TO THIS BLOG. 

Life as a Coral Cay reef marine diver – Week 1


5.30-6am: I wake up to the sound of birds  and the sun peeking through the slated blinds.  Getting up, I admire and appreciate the stunning Carribbean waters from my room.

 I perform some yoga stretches to ease tired muscles from diving the day before, and some dance stretches so I won’t be too out of shape when I attend dance classes on my return to London.

 I prepare my own breakfast which consists of cereal and toast in any combination I fancy. I also bought some eggs from the local store Ram’s, so sometimes I make fried eggs. 

7.30am: Our field manager gives his morning briefing on the day’s plans including cooking rota for the day, scheduled diving plans, science lectures, and chore duties.

7.30: We all complete morning chores which consists of sweeping and mopping, or washing the breakfast dishes. It all works like clockwork with everyone pitching in.  A clean house is a happy one!

We all help with loading the jeep full of diving gear, including cylinders, have a brief time to sit before  collecting our personal effects to walk downhill to  one of the local bay’s for our morning dive. 


8.30am: Our shore marshall provides us with our dive brief, we kit up, buddy check and then enter the bay off shore. 


It’s hard work finning out but it isn’t long before we descend below the water’s surface. I explore the marine world of Montserrrat’s local reefs with my dive buddy close by. Our initial dives were fun dives, but the latter part of this week has been spent  pointing out  fish and invertebrates  as part of our science training.

9.30am: I exit the bay, feeling content with my dive. We all de kit, walk uphill back to base, help unload the jeep, hose down our kit, then relax, read, and study for our fish identification test,  and Internet browse before lunch.

12.00: Lunch is served which consists of pasta or rice, with beans, vegetables and meat. As a vegetarian I am well catered for.  After a second briefing for the afternoon, we all help load  the vehicle with our dive kit, find some time to relax and digest before  walking down to our dive site.

13.30pm: With our dive kit all back on, we enter the water from the shore  to either revise some skills, identify fish or invertebrates, or just explore the reef. On my third  dive this week, I was feeling more confident having not dived since January. The sea current carried me along under water. There was no need to kick my fins. Instead I just floated along, totally weightless and suspended in a hover.

On exiting the water, I feel happy with all the things we saw. With our fish identification lecture out of the way, diving felt so much more enriching knowing what you were actually viewing in terms of marine life. So many fun things to see and identity including lion fish, barracuda, spotted eagle ray, butterfly and angel fish.


With a second walk uphill back to base, my body was definitely feeling tired. We all help with unloading the vehicle including carrying tanks back downstairs to be refilled, rinsing our dive kit, then finally hitting the shower.

We have more free time before dinner. Instead of reading one day this week, me and Andy decided to walk 20 minutes up hill to the local shop Ram’s for food supplies. I stocked up on some personal items such as nuts, chocolate, cheese, crackers, Ribena and apples. I also had the shopping list for some of the others. Peta  wanted a 24 box of crunchie chocolate bars, Isobel decided she only wanted 4 individual kit kats as opposed to a box of 24, and Jess wanted a jar of peanut butter.

Having arrived back at base, it was time to update my dive logbook, study, read, and browse the Internet. 

18.00pm: Dinner was ready with another version of beans, frozen vegetables and pasta. Then a final briefing for the day. 

18.45pm: We had another lecture tonight, completing our fish identification session and a second lecture on invertebrates. After both sessions had ended, Isobel and I decided to review our fish with flash cards. I wasn’t doing so well, I’m blaming fatigue! The others watched an episode of Game of thrones.

More time to relax, read, study, browse and prepare for bed. The  view of the stars in the night sky from our open dining/living room were fantastic.

21.48pm: Time for me to head up to bed. I’m not feeling as tired I was before, but I know I will be tomorrow when  the day starts again. So I take myself back upstairs to my room. Goodnight!