I have spent the last two days with previous intern Kim Malkoski at East Coast Divers in Brookline. In this time, I learned how to help customers find the perfect fit for a mask and basic dive gear so they could put their best fin forward as they earn their open water certification. In addition to learning the ins and outs of working in a dive shop, I also sat in on an open water class to review some knowledge and joined a few other divers in an intro to tech and sidemount diving class. Tech and sidemount is a style of diving that interests me because it allows divers to go past the recreational limits and become more streamlined in the water to maneuver tight spaces during wreck or cave dives. To wrap my time up with the crew at East Coast Divers, I earned my night diving certification by diving at Old Garden Beach with Kim and her dad Vin Malkoski.
We dove to 25 feet for 45 minutes, and saw how the behavior of marine life changes at night time. My favorite part was when we turned all our lights off to see the bioluminescent dinoflagellates glow in the dark. What upset me, however, was the marine debris we found as we began to surface. As a diver, I see firsthand how diving locations are being plagued by harmful debris such as plastics or fishing line. Divers must be advocates for the ocean; please remember to properly dispose of your waste and pick any up if you come across it!
For the past few days, I have been with a previous intern Kim Malkoski. Our first day we had a pool session to break in my new gear and practice basic underwater skills, such as air sharing and mask clearing. The next day we planned on diving Back Beach in Rockport, but because conditions were so calm we decided to go to Folly Cove. Though it was low tide, making for a slippery entrance on the rocks, our first dive was at 40 feet with great visibility (keep in mind this is New England, great visibility is about 20 ft). We saw plenty of sea life including a bed of sand dollars, plenty of lobsters and flounders, and even a sea raven! After a post dive snack and a bit of exploring in the tide pools, we went to dive the opposite side of the cove. Though the visibility decreased due to the incoming tide, the dive was still interesting and different from the first. While one was a rock ledge with a sandy bottom, the other was a rocky bottom covered with algae. After a second dive at 45 feet for 40 minutes, we headed to the New England Aquarium in Boston to listen to photographer, and Sea Rovers member, Brian Skerry speak about his experiences and release of his new book about sharks! The videos and images he showed were breathtaking and, as he hoped it would, helped the crowd see sharks as beautiful creatures to respect and protect.
Today I went to Beverly to meet the owner of Undersea Divers, Whitney Boyle. As usual, the shop was buzzing with people who were getting ready for another dive season. As we all know, diving is a gear-heavy sport, and I was entering the Eden of dive shops. For a store that was moving to a new location in a few days (check them out at 67 High St in Danvers!!!) the walls were stocked with gear and other necessities. Needless to say, I went a little wild. Though Whitney generously donated a Henderson thermaxx Titanium wetsuit, along with an AquaLung Pro HD BCD (for my non-diving friends and fans BCD= buoyancy compensation device) and an AquaLung Calypso regulator, I still had loads of things to purchase to be a prepared and safe diver. While Whitney took care of some customers who needed air fills I got my weights, a light, a dive flag, and of course a bag that could fit all my new toys. I am extremely grateful that Whitney continued in her father’s footsteps to support the Sea Rovers intern. When I got home I modeled my new gear to my family. After teaching dive gear 101, it was time for the grand finale – modeling my custom fit (and purple!!!) Divers Unlimited International drysuit donated by DUI and fitted by Faith Ortins. I can’t wait to break it in soon for cold water diving during my summer of adventures!
I would like to preface this blog with a bit of a warning. I am not a writer, I’m a diver. Well, I’m working on improving my skills so I can truly earn the title. So, bear with me, and hope that I figure out this blogging thing within a few posts. I am the 12th Boston Sea Rovers’ intern, this is my story.
The final stop of my summer internship landed me in Lexington, Michigan where I stayed with Jim and Pat Stayer. Jim and Pat are diving and videography experts with lots of experience in these fields. I enjoyed diving with them in Lake Huron, exploring the wrecks that lie below. I dove on three of the wrecks: the Sport, the Strong, and the Regina. The Regina was my favorite wreck to dive. I liked exploring its large propeller and large smokestack.
Given that Jim and Pat are experienced film producers, my time in Michigan was also spent editing this film. Jim and Pat provided all the support necessary to complete this film in the quick four-day time span we had together. From photo editing, to color correction, to transition optimization, the Stayers were instrumental in putting this all together.
I can’t thank Jim and Pat enough for taking me into their home, taking me out on the water with them to dive, and helping me edit my internship documentary. They were incredibly helpful and two incredibly nice individuals. I look forward to staying in touch with them and watching their film productions.
Newfoundland also had lots of wreck diving to offer. I was lucky to make two dives on the PLM-27. Located off the coast of Bell Island, this ship was sunk in World War II and is one of four wrecks with a similar story. I loved exploring this wreck – the largest I had ever been on at the time. There were lots of fish to see and the ship had many different areas to explore.
Perhaps the most memorable portion of my time in Newfoundland was the scallop dive I went on with Rick and Mark. In preparation for a seafood dinner we would be having with Rick’s family later that evening, Mark and I collected over 75 scallops, filling our bag quite quickly. This was my first time diving for scallops, and for this reason Rick prepared me one raw on the boat as a post dive snack. Talk about fresh seafood! Later that evening Rick showed me how to clean scallops and fillet cod. I hope to start diving for seafood near my home.
One of the highlights of my trip to Newfoundland was receiving my sidemount certification with OceanQuest instructor Mark McGowan. I had never before tried sidemount diving, but in the span of three days I discovered and practiced this style of diving. I enjoyed my five certification dives in locations where we saw interesting wildlife like eel pouts and lumpfish. Underwater, we found lot of cool objects like an underwater mirror and a pair of old sunglasses. Thanks so much for getting me certified, Mark!
From the warm waters of Bonaire, I made a quick transition to northeastern Canada where I spent a week in Newfoundland with Rick Stanley, his wife, Debbie, and OceanQuest Adventures. I had never before visited Canada, so I was thrilled to begin exploring right away with a snorkel around historic Bell Island. Rick took me out on his zodiak with a small group of snorkelers and brought us to all the best spots to check out. I explored the unique geography and cave systems the island has to offer as well as the marine life.
The next day Rick took me out to search for whales, Newfoundland’s iconic attraction. We saw two minke whales and a humpback from the surface, but could not get close enough to swim with them. Determined to find more, I went out the following day with Johnny O. of OceanQuest in search for more. We struck out again, but had fun exploring waterfalls and swimming with a bloom of moon jellies.
My time in Newfoundland was also full of regional and OceanQuest traditions. I tried pie-irons for the first time. These are sandwiches cooked in a sealed, iron griddle over an open flame. They were were delicious! I also got to attend the Conception Bay South summer games opening ceremonies. The games’ host city changes every year, so this was certainly a treat. I also got to try a Newfoundland special: moose soup! My trip to Newfoundland came to an end with an awesome sunset which I watched from Rick’s roof!
Thank you so much, Rick and Debbie, for hosting me at your home and absorbing me right into your incredible family. I had so much fun up in Newfoundland trying new things, getting to know the region, and meeting new people. I hope to come back soon to spot some whales with OceanQuest and reconnect with you both. Thank you!
The island of Bonaire had lots to offer as a unique destination to explore. In between dives, I had the opportunity to visit ‘downtown’ Bonaire a number of times. Lining the tight, colorful streets were lots of shops and restaurants. In one store, I found my favorite flavor of soda: bubblegum. Throughout the course of the week, we made many visits to the local gelato shop. I also enjoyed exploring this area at night. There was lots of live music which made for a great atmosphere.
One of my favorite parts of Bonaire was the donkey sanctuary. Located on the other side of the island, the donkey sanctuary is located near the airport and is almost as large as it! I visited the donkey sanctuary with the kids of Kids Sea Camp. There were hundreds of donkeys in the sanctuary, both young and old and we enjoyed getting very close to the animals. I enjoyed feeding the donkeys from the back of a truck as we journey through the sanctuary and taking lots of pictures with them. This was a truly unique experience. On our way home from the donkey sanctuary we also stopped at the slave huts and salt flats of Bonaire. These were two very interesting locations with strong historical ties. I enjoyed spotting flamingos in the salt flats.
It was also great to meet the people of Bonaire. I enjoyed working closely with the staff of Buddy Dive. They were an incredibly helpful, nice, and fun group. It was also great getting to know some of the families of Kids Sea Camp throughout the week.
I’d like to thank Woody and his whole family for making my week down in Bonaire so fun and memorable. I felt warmly welcomed into their family and enjoyed getting to know them all much better. I look forward to staying in touch with the Tinsleys.
Alongside diving on my free time and with the adults, there was lots of time to be spent in the water with the stars of the week: the kids! Kids Sea Camp offered many different courses throughout the week for children of all ages. I was lucky enough to spend a bit of time with most of the groups, both on land and in the water.
The first group I worked with was the PADI Seal Team. The PADI Seal Team Program is designed to introduce scuba diving to children not yet old enough to be Junior Open water certified. The Seals practice skills such as buoyancy control, mask clearing, underwater photography, and underwater communication in the pool. At the end of the week they perform their first dive in the ocean with their parents. This is a hallmark moment for many children, so it was great to see so much enthusiasm for this culminating dive. I was also able to join the Seals for an ocean snorkel mid-week. Having just completed a dive, I tagged along in my full scuba kit, allowing me to take some great photos of the snorkelers above me.
The following day, I joined the coral restoration group. This organization promotes the conservation of various species of coral and the education of divers to responsibly interact with these animals. The Coral Restoration Foundation focuses its efforts in the Florida Keys and Caribbean with the goal of growing and outplanting corals to help rebuild and restore reef communities. In Bonaire, the Coral Restoration Foundation manages over 30 coral ‘trees’ – structures designed to facilitate the growth of corals. These trees serve as a nursery for young corals that will one day be introduced into a new location. I enjoyed helping the kids transplant corals using a very meticulous process involving careful placement and proper attachment. It was great to see so many young adults interested in conservation and the protection of our oceans.
There was also lots of fun to be had with the kids outside of scuba diving. Kids Sea Camp’s annual trivia contest, hosted by the one and only Woody Tinsley, was so much fun. Woody has quite the arsenal of random factoids, ocean related and not. It was great being a part of the action as families competed for prizes and bragging rights.
The poetry contests, a part of the camp’s closing ceremonies, was also very interesting. Some individuals entered their own works, while some families worked together. There were a wide variety of pieces including acrostic poems, haikus, songs, and even Bonaire themed Christmas carols!
Finally, what would a Kids Sea Camp be without a Zombie Apocalypse?! On our last day of diving, all certified divers (and snorkelers) were offered the opportunity to earn their PADI Zombie Apocalypse Diver Specialty Certification from instructor Woody Tinsley. This day, I played the role of a menacing, underwater zombie in the ‘shooting gallery’. Divers had the chance to shoot me and my undead partners with a bubble-ring gun. I had a great time attacking the armed youngsters – all in good fun, of course! It’s easy to say that Kids Sea Camp is ‘Grade-A’ when it comes to fun and diversity.