Today was the last official day of the project. Conditions at Bird Islet were gorgeous. Being the last day, we took time to enjoy our surroundings by conducting recreational dives. I dived with a group on the outer edge of Bird Islet’s fringing reef. Not to sound like a broken record but this was an incredible dive. The outer reef is a series of coral canyons, caverns, swim throughs and chimneys. Pastel coral terraces provide a dynamic habitation for tropical fish of all kinds. Swimming through the canyons is exciting because you have no idea what the next corner will unveil. We were constantly on the look out for sharks because yesterday a team reported seeing a large bull shark. I asked Nigel how large the shark actually was and he replied it was a big bugger. We did not see any sharks on this dive, just some very large sea snakes. A list of all the marine life we observed could fill a book.
After the dive, we returned to Nimrod Explorer. On board we stowed our gear, had lunch and exchanged contact information. No one really wants the voyage to end but two weeks at sea has taken its toll and everyone is feeling fatigued. It has been a great trip. We surveyed many kilometers of reef and located 4 wrecks, 3 at Porpoise Cay (Cato, HMS Porpoise and Mahaica) and another at Bird Islet (Anne). I have learned a lot from the professionals involved in this trip and hope to have the opportunity to work with them again. I would like to thank John, Jacqui and Kieran for the invitation to join this research project. I would also like to thank Nigel for the insight and thesis advice he provided me in the evenings and a huge thank you to the crew who simply ROCK! Most importantly, I would like to thank my thesis advisor Jennifer McKinnon for the opportunity to partake in this adventure.
Contributed by W. Shawn Arnold.