Panama, Day 12

Another deep dive today, to 120′ this time. Now that we had been exposed to some of the challenges of deep diving, we were given a more specific assignment, to document distribution of various marine species at depth. This time around, everyone was prepared for narcosis at depth, no matter how subtle, and as a result our dive went a lot smoother. Even though two divers experienced significant, noticeable narcosis, everyone performed their checks properly and recorded usable data at depth; the only “victim” was one diver who, lured by Terrence gesturing at something at the seafloor, hit 128′ before she realized what he was up to. But for that, the dive went quite smoothly, and we were rewarded with the spotting of a large hogfish at 110′–the first decent sized game fish we’ve seen this trip–as well as a pair of squid hovering over the reef at 30′ that pulsed various shades of blue as we drifted by.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing onshore, but as the sun started to set we cast off again, heading back towards Portobelo Harbor for a night dive at the San Marinas reef. Though lighting difficulties limited the quality of the footage I could capture on that dive, it was still very enjoyable to cruise around the reef wall at 60′, observing the bioluminescence, various crustaceans, and (finally) a definite glimpse of an adult octopus, who was unfortuantely securely buried in a rock face so that only his tentacles protruded out in sight.
Tomorrow will bring us our final dive, which promises to test our experience and take us to the recreational depth limit of 130′. These past few dives have been a great capstone to all the learning and fun we’ve had on this trip; Panama will sorely be missed, though I can’t wait to see what’s next to come in this incredible internship.