by Christine Sur
I had always thought to become certified to dive, but it was one of those things that I just never got around to. I finally got my chance this past semester, and it completely surprised me. I signed up for the Problems without Passports to Guam and Palau and thought I would simply do some open water training during the summer before the trip, but I got much more than that when we went out to Wrigley for three packed weekends in April.
At first, the classes and exercises seemed simple as we started with learning to recover lost gear and using different entries, along with basic dive equipment and safety. Our days were filled with dives, classes and, 6 a.m. 60-degree ocean swim tests. But the dives quickly went from practice drills to more training such as navigation, buoyancy control and rescue. The last weekend we began our scientific training, laying transects and doing fish counts. It was a great time being able to spend days in the water, diving with different buddies and gaining more experience with such a new activity. Each dive was a different and valuable learning experience, especially since they didn’t all go perfectly—I got a cold and had one weekend filled with equalizing problems, during navigation training our group got lost in a kelp forest, and our transect practice involved a little manipulation of some sea cucumbers.
Now after only three weekends, I can count 11 dives in my logbook. Thanks to great instructors and a beautiful training site, I feel confident going into the research that we will be doing in Guam and Palau. I can’t wait to get back into the water and see where this will take me.