Although yesterday was unexpected, I attended the Coral Reef presentation by Angelo Villagomez and Bree Reynolds, whom by the way are both “Taya Talent” players. It wasn’t like the usual Professional Development Day workshops I’ve been in the past years. After a session of facts and some brutal information about what’s happening to our island we headed out to Managaha and Kagman for a real-life connection.
We took a ferry with lots of food to BBQ, snorkeling gear and our free yellow pads. Of course Diana got lost and missed the boat. She did manage to hop on one of the tourist boats with Tony by offering half-eaten food. Anyhoo, we took a walk around the small 10-acre island, saw the Shearwater habitat (nocturnal birds that build their nests underground that also sound like babies crying), talked about the positive and negative effects of tourism, and observed the geographical change the island has gone through over the years. I even picked up sand dollars; about 7 of them in one area, after Angelo said “take nothing and leave nothing but footprints.” I was gonna sneak it out but I felt guilty and showed one to him before we were about to leave, to my surprise he pointed out that it wasn’t sand dollars but sea urchins -bummer!
The best part though was snorkeling! The others went ahead while Diana, Tony, Asap and I stayed to complete the paper work. As soon as we were ready, we got our gears on and for some reason Diana couldn’t get the snorkel stuck to her face and ended up with water in her goggles half the time (special Diana moments, hilarious!). Our mission was to see the corals and everything that goes with it so our initial thought was to go far beyond the buoy where less damage has been done. You see, I’ve only done this a couple times before, and both times with experienced divers. Diana and Tony are from Randolph, MA (Boston), so you fill in the blanks. Asap, who canoes, was basically our only chance of survival against the strong currents. The struggle was absolutely worth it. We saw at least five different species we could name. The others, we made names for, until Bree shared her amazing knowledge on what they were. Swimming with all those fish was an absolute stress reliever!
When we got back we headed out to a protected area where volunteers have planted trees a year ago. It was an awesome hike with a great view. More information was said but the one that stuck to me was “whatever we do to our land greatly affects our ocean.” It’s depressing how we, humans, are the biggest reason why nature’s beauty is at risk.
Not only did I meet new friends, and survived the swim and hike with battle wounds, I am now more aware and know that it is essential that we should try to make a difference.