Last Thursday we did our deepest dive yet. We went to 30 m, about 100 feet. The dive site was called Hilma Hooker which is the name of the 200 ft sunken ship there. The ship was purposely sunk about 30 years ago. As the story goes, the ship was having some rudder troubles off the cost of Bonaire. When the ocean officials went out to help they wouldn't accept it. After a week of floating around a few miles out the Bonairian officials went back out and demanded some sort of paper work as to what they were carrying and where they were going. The people on the boat couldn't produce any valid paper work so the Bonairians conducted a search. They pulled it into shore, went aboard and found 25,000 lbs of marijuana. After weeks of no one claiming the boat they decided to sink it. It has now turned into a beautiful dive site!
First we descended to the bottom and sat in the sand to do some underwater activities. We brought with us a few things..we brought a color wheel to see what happens at such a depth where light hardly reaches. This deep down you cannot see the color red, it just looks like black or dark brown. We also brought a tennis ball which was completely flat from the pressure by the time we got to the bottom. We brought a water bottle with just a little bit of water in it to show the effects of pressure too. Also we brought an egg. When we cracked the egg the pressure is so great that it holds the yolk together so you can bounce it around and play with it a little bit. When we held the top of the water bottle near the egg it sucked it right in. Then we squeezed it back out and the yolk was still intact. Since CIEE has been there so many times and have done this trick, or maybe other people too, the fish know! As soon as we sat on the bottom a few Yellow Tail Snappers started surrounding us. They were coming up and swimming into our hands and arms. Right after we squeezed the egg out of the water bottle and big snapper came and gobbled it right up! I couldn't help but laugh and smile I thought it was really funny!!
After that we swam around the boat. It was really cool to see all of the corals and sponges that have colonized there. There were tons of fish too!! We weren't able to actually penetrate the site (go in the boat) but there is a very large area where they sored cargo and the doors have been taken off so we could go in there a bit. It was a very cool dive! We didn't stay down for very long so it is definitely somewhere I would like to go back to for another dive! I think it was one of the best dives so far as far as the health of the reef goes. A lot of the sites we've been to have been covered in algae, a sign of few herbivores, and a large percent of the coral is dead. Maybe its because its so deep and not a lot of tourists dive there, I'm not sure.
The three animals I was most excited to see before coming here were donkeys, flamingos and sea turtles. Within a week I've seen them all! On Saturday about 5 of us were going for a casual snorkel at Yellow Sub, the place that is just a block away were we dive everyday, and we had a great sea turtle sighting!!! This was my first once although some people had already see one or two. It was down on the reef about 25 ft deep when we first sighted it. It was pretty camouflaged so I had a hard time seeing it at first. We watched it for a few minuets and then it started to swim..we all followed. It swam to the surface very very slowly and then hung out there just breathing and looking around for about 10 minutes. We were all positioned in a half circle around it watching in awe. It was pretty big, probably 3 ft long and soo pretty! It finally swam back down and out of our sight. It was definitely one of the coolest things I have ever seen!
On Sunday we decided to go for a very long swim. There is a small island off the western side of Bonaire called Klien Boanire. In the fall during 'Regatta Week' one activity is to swim there. That was our activity of the day. A group of 8 of us put on our wet suits (for buoyancy, which was definitely the best idea ever) and grabbed out snorkels, masks and booties. When we got to the dock we told one of the dive instructors at Yellow Sub that we were going to swim to Klein. For some reason he thought it was a terrible idea; he said we wouldn't make it half way we would be way to tired and they way back we would end up half way down the island because of wind and current. He told us that if he had to come pick us up each one of us owed him a case of beer. I don't think the boys really listened and all the girls thought he was underestimating what kind of shape we were in. So, off we went. We swam for about 30 minutes, looking at nothing. We could always see where we started from and where we ended but it was weird being out in the middle just looking at the darkness of the water, no bottom. Finally out of no where popped up the reef crest, not only was it so relieving to know that we made it but it was so beautiful! I know I just said Hilma Hooker was the best diving I had seen but this part of Klien Bonaire actually was! The water got shallow very quickly so soon we were right on top of so many corals and soft coral gargonian (bush looking plants) and sponges and tons and tons of fish! It was awesome. We carefully swam all the way to shore, there was so much coral and living things that we had to keep swimming/floating until we were in about 2 ft of water. We weaved out way between coral and fish until it was okay to walk the remainder of the way. When all 8 of us were up on the beach we were so proud of ourselves! The swim really wasn't too bad at all. And we decided it was well worth it because of everything we saw once we got there! We sat on the beach for a while then went back in for about 30 minutes of snorkeling. It was great because everything was so close because it was so shallow. At Yellow Sub we do a lot of free diving (holding your breathe and going down) when we aren't scuba diving so we can be closer to everything. This just gets really tiring and annoying after awhile so it was great to be so close to everything. Within the 30 minutes we saw about 10 sea turtles. Some were small, others quite large. some were swimming along very peacefully and others were hiding under coral and gargonians and we didn't realize we were practically right on top of them. Around 5ish we decided to head back. It took us another 35-45 minutes so we estamated that we swam about 1 1/4 miles in all. I don't think its something I would do every single weekend but definitely a few more times before I go home, it was all so worth it because of that beautiful snorkeling!!
Tonight we are going on a night dive at 8pm!!