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Belize Dolphin Studies

DS21 Update — Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sun, salt, and sea.

Sharks and dolphins and rays. Oh my. This trifecta of sea life was just one contributing factor to what began as an undoubtedly good day and what faded into a chaotic evening. The day began early and with the now familiar but always jarring sounds of a fist against the door. The early morning was made worthwhile when the group arrived at BDS, the company that would be taking us on three dives, and boarded the dive boat. The crew greeted us with wide smiles and a sparkling deftness that I know disarmed me, being the relatively inexperienced diver that I am.

And that is what makes this trip great; it brings together people like me, who flew into Belize city untanned by sun and unaware of the possibilities diving can open up with people such as Caleb, our group member who has done over 90 dives, and with the seaswept, smiling crew members. This melding of worlds, Belizean and American (and Canadian in the case of Victoria, our resident foreigner), land and sea is the truly awe-inspiring part of this trip and what always brings the day to a close on a positive note. Any slight inconveniences, such as seasickness, head colds, heat fatigue, and mediocre Cuban food, pale in comparison to the wonder of knocking fins with a nurse shark, as Sammie did on our second dive, glimpsing bat rays through the water, and spotting dolphins on two separate occasions. Our worlds collide with those of the animals we encounter, those of the Belizeans we meet, and those of each group-mate, lending us an ability to wonder again and again at the newness and freshness of our experience.

And its not hard to find things to wonder at. After our second dive we had the opportunity to walk around the island of San Pedro. Encountering monkeys tethered to vendors’ carts, brightly painted seaside cafes and ever-smiling residents who nearly invariably waved or greeted our pack of ragged divers as we strolled along the beach. Even the commonplace walk becomes something extraordinary when we feel the will of the group moving onward and upward together, finding the beauty in the greetings of a stranger or the grace in the playful gamboling of a pit bull puppy ambling across the white sand.

After the third dive, we all returned to shore salt logged and wind torn, but fresh faced after spying the swooping breaches of a pod of dolphins. This return to shore did not bode well for the group for soon after class Chelsea, Mia, and Cooper retired early with sheer exhaustion. But despite any tired eyes, we drew closer together; over dinner Michael’s debate over music, Nathalie and Josephine’s shutter-bug antics, and Jandro and Galen’s never ceasing positivity brought us to the ultimate and ultimately correct conclusion: that we are a group and through the good and the difficult, we together can find what is truly amazing and truly awe-inspiring in the world around us.


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