The Bahamas has an abundance of inland ponds that are rarely visited and poorly studied. These inland ponds are fragile ecosystems that are under threat from developments, pollution and the introduction of species, yet these ponds are rarely considered for conservation protection. Eleuthera has over 200 of these inland water sites. One of these, Sweetings pond, has an unusually high number of seahorses. This pond may not be the only special site, as these isolated ponds are known to support unique and endemic life. This semester, Island School students started to explore and assess the ponds of South Eleuthera to provide data to ensure their long-term conservation. Excitingly we found new species, please visit the CEI blog for more details.
Of all the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have here, free-diving has definitely been one of the most satisfactory so far. It has been an area where I have achieved vast improvement since my start, as well as let me see so much more of the Bahamian waters and marine wildlife.
Every Wednesday and Sunday morning, if possible, I get up early to go free-diving instead of sleeping. On Wednesday that means waking up at six twenty rather than seven fifty. If it was not worth it, I would never forsake that much sleep, but it is. One of the benefits of free-diving is that many animals, such as sharks, do not like the noise that SCUBA equipment makes underwater. But in free-diving, you have no equipment, so some animals might not be as repelled as they would have if you were SCUBA diving. Whether because of this, or just out of sheer luck, I have been able to see as well swim with many amazing underwater creatures. Some of the more extraordinary examples include: a ten-foot Hammerhead Shark, an eight-foot wide Spotted Eagle Ray, a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a Reef Shark, and much more. These amazing creatures have sparked a love of not just free-diving, but also marine life and the ocean that was not nearly as strong as before coming to the Island School.
Secondly, since my beginning of free-diving, I have been able to quickly notice my improvement. When I started, we were going out to Tunnel Rock Reef, where the water was about 35 feet deep. The first time I couldn’t even get to the bottom, then the next time I reached the bottom. After that I reached the bottom many times and was able to “chill” at the bottom for a time. Finally, after that I was able to do a swim through. While we were going to Tunnel Rock, we also went to Cathedral Reef every now and then. Cathedral is about 55 feet deep, much deeper and harder than Tunnel Rock, with an extremely long swim through. After working at it for a while, I can now reach the bottom and wait at Cathedral as well as Tunnel Rock. This large increase in my free-diving abilities has come through help of the instructors as well as pushing my limits. It feels great to be able to see yourself grow, and this theme is present in many parts of the Island School, but for me it is greatest in Free-Diving.
I am extremely grateful to have this experience, and it has been made even better with all of the work and fun of Free-Diving.
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to showcase my talents along with Island School kids and individuals from Deep Creek community. My friends Triston, Gus, Jeremy, Ian, Khalil and I traveled to Deep Creek along with Pat as our overseer. After arriving we shot around the court for a little while then played a warm in game to twenty-one before we picked teams ans played 4-4 basketball. In the first game the team was Pat, Ian, Michael and I against Gus, Triston, Khalil, and Jeremy. My team and I started the game out playing good basketball and we developed a good chemistry moving forward. We jumped out ahead with a big lead and then starting playing lazy which resulting in the opposing team gaining some points. However, we closed them out pretty easy once we decided play time was over.
The sun smiled its rays down on us as sweat gently dripped from our exhausted bodies. The next team to step on the court was a challenge, but I love challenges because they give you and opportunity to become better and make others better in the process. We were up against Darrel, Rachael, Cammy, and Brendan. “Screech, screech” was the sound our exotic shoes made sliding across the rouch cemented court. The game began with Darrel’s team jumping out ahead taking advantage of mismatches and leaks that they saw in our team. It was to my surprise that Rachael could play so well, she completely took advantage of my comrade Ian as Darrel bullied Michael in the post. It was time for me to stop taking a back seat, I demanding the ball and went to work scoring multiple baskets in a row. An intense game went on and no team would break first with the scored being tied 20-20 in the long run. It was our ball and the moment was bright what will I do, pass to my partners or take it the hoop and do what I do best score? I crossed over Brendan and drove to the rim as a diversion knowing in my mind that Darrel would switch over to help because he had a point to prove that he was this superstar player and wanted to advertise it to the world. Knowing that I could still try and make the shot I gave it it to an open teamate for the shot in which they missed resulting in the opposing team grabbing the rebound and claiming possession of the ball. I played defence to the best of my ability and in the corner of my eye I could see Darrel posting up Michael and asking for the ball while he was in the post up position. The thought in the back of my head flickered that Darrel would score if he got the ball and if I left Rachel to help on defence she would automatically receive the ball and it was a high percentage she would hit the shot. Therefore, I decided to stay on my opponent desperately hoping Michael would protect our basket in which he was unsuccessful in doing and resulting in our defeat. We lost that game 20-22 and yeah it was heartbreaking but I am a great competitor and use experiences to make me a better person and basketball player in life. I shook hands with everyone and exclaimed good game for I knew I would have a next opportunity in the near future to showcase my talents and this time I’ll lead my team to victory.