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Published: July 12th 2011
Hello world! Apologies for not updating sooner, but I have the best of excuses. Since arriving to paradise on Friday afternoon, I've spent my days diving in the clear, emerald waters of the Caribbean. Life is tough, but I'm quite sure the turtles, spotted eagle rays, giant grouper, drum, green and spotted morrays, and spotted eagle rays really enjoy my company.
Fantasy Island Resort is located on the south-central coast of Roatan. It is an all-inclusive resort, which is a HUGE change from what I am used to in Latin America (see previous blog entries for ellaboration). Though not a 5-star by US standards, I was blown away, and, yes, did an extended "happy dance" when I got to my room Friday night. Because of the atmosphere, I worried that meeting people would be more difficult than I am used to, but divers are a friendly breed. I met up with a great group from Austin, TX and had an entertaining Friday night, followed by 2 beautiful dives on Saturday morning. They unfortunately left Sunday, but a new group from FL arrived and adopted me instead.
In case you're wondering why I'm not yet started with my research, there
was a hiccup with logistics and my advisor won't be arriving here until Thursday this week, along with my assistant and friend Christi. I can't wait to get my hands on some turtles! I did see my first ever hawksbill on yesterday's afternoon dive. It was a nice juvenile and let me follow it around for about 15 mins before we proceeded. So cute! If the others behave like this guy, I am very confident that the divemasters and I won't have any issue bringing them to the surface (thankfully!!). I will hopefully be able to enlist some vacationing divers to help with some habitat and abundance surveys as well. Since I'm still learning my sponge species (dietary choice of hawksbills) I haven't done any habitat assessments yet, but I'm definitely becoming more familiar.
Also, I typically see at least 3+ lionfish on every dive. Lionfish are a VERY invasive exotic species of fish that were introduced to the Caribbean from Asia through the aquarium trade (i.e. pet owners releasing the fish into the ocean) and have no natural predators in the Caribbean/Atlantic. They are taking over reefs everywhere and environmentalists have no idea how to stop them. Spearfishing
is encouraged, and they are supposedly very tasty, but the fishery has not caught on.
Since I had some issues ordering the underwater casing for my camera, I won't have it until Thursday when Christi arrives. Hopefully I learn how to take good photos quickly because you HAVE to see what is living down here! Truly beautiful!
All of the resort/dive shop empoyees are extremely friendly and a lot of fun. I suppose being a young gringa helps, but they are hooking me up beyond what I could have imagined. I'll probably jump on board with some trips to the West End of the island later in the week and join them for a shark dive on Wednesday. Can't wait!! Also, we have lots of "pets" running around the island, too. There is a family of monkeys, a peacock, lots of massive iguanas, cute little rodents that look like mini capybara (can't remember the name), an unhappy boa, and some friendly woodpeckers.
I hope all is well back home. I have to admit, abadoning the degree and just moving here has crossed my mind many times! But then again, if I can manage to live here for
free for a while, that's the next best thing! I am insanely happy and finally living out my dream of living in the Bay Islands. You should probably come visit, but prepare to never leave. I'll do my best to update soon.
Abrazos y besos,
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