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Monday, April 16, 2007

On the Boat Again...

"A bad day diving is better than a good day at work."

Various stickers are plastered at the AKR dock where a boat shuttles resort guests between their island cabanas and the main resort. But this sticker stands out among them, especially today. Based on the previous day's experience, Chris couldn't disagree more.

However, he's ready to give diving another try--albeit hesitantly.

Peace has returned to Roatan after a night of heavy storms, which is unseasonable for the month of April. Waves battered the deck of our cabana all night, and the colorful hammocks bashed against the railings. Even though the sea was still churning by morning, the sun appeared over the mountain, and it looked like it would be a good day for scuba diving, which was rescheduled for the south side of the island where the waters are calmer.

"Don't worry, Chris," says Frank, the divemaster. "It'll be no problem today."

Frank kept his word.

Throughout the day, we were treated to a healthy barrier reef (the second largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef) chocked full of pillar, tube and barrel sponges "you can fit a cow in," magestic eagle rays, lobsters, green moray eels, barracuda, parrotfish, gigantic grouper and variety of tropical fish that I can't identify--despite having gone last night to the "School of Fish," an informative fish identification class that is presented once a week by Sergio Luperto, the newest divemaster at AKR.

Part of what makes fish identification so difficult is that the fish change dramatically over the course of their lives. Take for example, the Damselfish. As a juvenile, it looks like a disco ball with it's shiny white dots on it's midnight blue scales. But as it ages, its color changes, it develop stripes, and only the tell-tale disco dots on its dorsal fin give it away.

The highlight was seeing the spotted eagle ray with its six-foot wingspan. It caught one glimpse of us and turned around and shot off deeper into the abyss, and we headed in the opposite direction--back to the surface--with a renewed fondness for underwater exploration.

Now we truly can say that we'd rather be diving than spending our afternoon at a office desk.

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