Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wednesday 5/21/2014

After breakfast we had a lecture about mangrove ecosystems to prep us for the morning's snorkel.  The whole group snorkeled at two different sites.  The first site was at the only mangrove forest on the island and we got to see a lot of organisms.  In the roots there were feather worm, fire sponge, clams, an arrow crab, two fire worms and different species of juvenile fish.  On the bottom we saw upside down jellyfish, cushion star fish, and a lionfish. 

Alyssa Sechler holding an arrow crab! (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Upside-down Jellyfish in the mangroves (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Feather Duster Worms on mangrove proproots (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Fire Worm - Touch-Me-Not (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Cushion Sea Star in Turtle Grass (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Clams on the mangrove proproots (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Another Cushion Sea Star (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)
 The second snorkel of the morning was at a back reef outside of the marine reserve so we were able to collect things and talk about them on the boat.  To start off we saw an spotted eagle ray swimming near some of the snorkelers.  We spent some time snorkeling around looking for organisms to collect.  Our bucket had a few queen conch, a juvenile diadema, an upside down jellyfish, flamingo tongue snails, a conch fish, a sharpnose puffer, and a blue-headed wrasse by the end of the snorkel.  Jennifer also gathered different species of algae to show to us and explain which ones were healthy to have in the reef and which ones were not. After we were done examining the specimens we replaced them back into the water.

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

Spotted Eagle Ray (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

Pink Tipped Sea Anemone (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

Diadema in our box of stuff (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

After lunch we had another dive at a site called Green Outhouse.  The divers saw a bunch of green sea turtles and a hawksbill turtle which was very cool. 

We headed right to a rocky shore area on Bailey's Key to check out the zonation.  We saw many different species inhabiting the rocks and the sandy area along the shore. 

Riley Zimmerman holding a West Indian Sea Egg (Sea Urchin)

Sarah Pedrick holding a sea urchin

Sea Urchin in its natural habitat (Photo: Riley Zimmerman)

To finish off the night we had a bbq fiesta with the rest of the resort guests.  Some of the activities included a hermit crab race, limbo, dance competition along with an open dance floor for the rest of the night with some great tunes!

More pictures coming soon!

Tuesday 5/20/2014

We had two dives on Tuesday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  The divers saw a turtle for the first time and a green moray eel. They also swam through a tunnel created by a buttress that coral had grown over the top on the second dive of the day. 

After the second dive, we had a short break and then we walked over to Carambola Gardens.  The area was designed, created and is run by Bill, a botanist by training, who came here for a Peace Corps stay and never left!  He gave us a tour of the main path and taught us about some of the different plants he has growing there.

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

Photo: Riley Zimmerman
We finished the day off with a lecture from Dr. Zimmerman on a review of reef invertebrates.

Check back later for an update about Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Monday 5/19/2014

Started off the day with the dolphins!

For the first half hour we had an encounter session in small groups with an individual trainer and dolphin.  The trainer gave us an overview of the animal, explaining the use of each type of fin, how they produce sound from their blowhole, and some social behaviors, among other topics.  For most of the topics, the dolphin got to demonstrate by doing actions like swimming at a high speed, opening its mouth, making sounds, performing jumps, letting us feel their fins and pet her sides and belly.

We each got a picture taken with our group's dolphin, either giving it a hug or a kiss and they turned out great!

Photo: Sarah Pedrick

One of the dolphins showing off his skills! (Photo: Sarah Pedrick)

Photo: Sarah Pedrick

The second half of the session we got to snorkel around the main area with 15 of their dolphins!

Riley Zimmerman saying hi to a friend! (Photo: Sarah Pedrick)
Photo: Sarah Pedrick

Wes checking out some dolphins! (Photo: Sarah Pedrick)

Another dive followed in the afternoon. The next big event, though, was the night snorkel that evening.  We went over to Bailey's Key and snorkeled in the shallow coastal waters.  A lot of people we scared because of the possibility of there being jellyfish but everyone made it out alive and we saw some pretty neat stuff.  Octopi, different species of sea cucumbers, squirrelfish (active at night), spiny lobster, some hermit crabs on the beach are only some of the organisms. 

Check back for more updates and pictures!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sunday 5/18/2014

Our first full day in Roatan!

Started off the day with a wonderful breakfast and then went to the RIMS lab for another lecture on Reef Fish Identification.  Up next was the check out dive.  This was an opportunity for the divers to check their buoyancy in the salt water with weight and for the divemasters to check general dive skills.  Then they were free to check out the dive site a little.

The seas were a bit rough that morning so a few of us gave the fish a second breakfast...but we all made it back to the dock and generally felt better after lunch in time for the afternoon dive.

Rob Hodes and Johanna Hripto during the check out dive (Photo: Sarah Pedrick)

Jake Hoates and Ashlynn Beaker (Photo: Sarah Pedrick)
Sarah Pedrick completed her 100th dive!! (Photo: Rob Hodes)
We headed back out, after another lecture, to a different location for the afternoon dive.  The snorkelers split from the group and went to a calmer site.

After dinner we had a lecture on dolphins as preparation for our swim with the dolphins Monday morning (which everyone was looking forward to)!

Check back for updates about Monday (dolphins!) and Tuesday!

Hello from Roatan!

We have finally made a connection!

Sorry for the delay - we ran into some internet and access problems but it looks like we are up and running now! So, here is an update of our past few days:

We ran into a snag with our first flight being delayed, but the airline got the connecting to flight to be held in Atlanta and the attendants let us off the plane first.  Needless to say we arrived safely and hit the water Saturday afternoon for our first snorkel!

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

We snorkeled right off the key and saw some pretty cool stuff: spiny lobster, long spine urchin, barracuda, merman's shaving brush algae, and more!

Photo: Riley Zimmerman

The rest of Saturday was time for us to get settled and check out the rest of the resort.  We finished our long day of travel with a introductory lecture by Jennifer, a working marine biologist at RIMS, who is one of our divemasters on the boat.

More to come from Roatan!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hello From Divemaster Sarah Pedrick!


My name is Sarah Pedrick and I am a junior at Lycoming College who has been diving since August 2012 after getting certified by Frank Morrow at A Water Odyssey Scuba. Currently I am a PADI Divemaster and DSD Leader who helps with SCUBA classes held at the college.

I also hold certifications as a Public Safety Diver, Rescue Diver, Body and Evidence Recovery Diver, and Emergency First Response. 

Although I have been out of the country snorkeling before, this will be my first time getting to dive so I am really excited. 

Two weeks ago, I decided that I was going to make my first dive at Roatan my 100th; this meant I needed to log 18 more dives before we left. I realized it would be hard to do (and Dr. Zimm thought I was crazy), but I set my mind on it and went diving everyday after class rain or shine. With a little help from friends, I was able to complete my 99th dive on Wednesday. Although I am a little exhausted now, I can't wait to take a giant stride off of the boat and into warm, crystal clear water. 100th dive, here I come!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Students completing PADI Open Water Dive Course

They dove in the Lycoming pool and at the “slab-town” dive site  on Loyalsock Creek

Frank Morrow -- PADI Instructor – A Water Odyssey scuba shop 
Sarah Pedrick  (also a student in course) and  Dr. Zimmerman -- Divemasters