Divemaster Training in the Bahamas – By Melanie L. – Senior

January 21st marked our first day in the Bahamas with the Sophomores. Everyone was super excited to get away from the cold weather and dark waters of NYC. I was especially excited to continue my Divemaster training. Throughout the week I had the chance to lead dives, perform the salvage of engines and a mini cement mixer off of the boat house, and bond with the future of the Professional Diving program. It was an amazing experience watching them grow from “Soft-mores” to Sophomores. Their skills improved dramatically dive after dive. My favorite memory of this trip was at one of our dive sites called The Saddle where I was 20 ft down with Steven waiting for his ears to clear when we got surrounded by 10 Black Tip sharks (my favorites!).

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I was so excited watching them and Steven didn’t even crack smile until a French Angelfish passed us by. That’s when he went crazy to get my attention and make sure I saw it. I couldn’t believe this, their first dive and they see several sharks surround them without any appreciation! All in all, it was a great trip and I gained a lot of unforgettable experiences and knowledge. Thank you Lenny, Zoë, and the Billion Oyster Project for making it all possible.

A Successful Fundraiser! – Justin Spinelli

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The fundraiser for Professional Diving was a success. Melanie Longo, a senior in the Professional Diving program who started the fundraiser, helped raise almost 5000 dollars for the diving program. Many people from all jobs and walks of life joined us at the seaport museum. There were stations in which visitors would engage with Lenny Speregen’s former commercial diving gear, or be put into an scenario where you would assemble objects in darkness, followed by caping a simulated oil leak. There were also stations where children and adults would paint oyster shells and talk to some of the members in the diving class. There were tons of oysters eaten as well.

Overall, the Professional Diving program thanks everyone that came out to support our program alongside the Billion Oyster Project. Every donation helped our program by becoming stronger with the community it’s in, educating people on our purpose in the harbor, and producing better divers!

Dutch Springs – By Javier Vazquez, 10th grade

      DSSo it was my first ever dive outside the pool and I was really excited. I remember getting up around 3 in the morning really tired, at that point I was not looking forward to anything but sleep. This was literally the earliest I had ever been up in my life. I packed my lunch, grabbed my stuff and I got in the car. On the way to the BMB I saw that there was a store open and so I ran in and got myself a Bacon Egg and Cheese for breakfast. After arriving to the BMB I saw that most of my friends were there and we all started talking about how hyped we all were for our first dive in Dutch Springs. We had about an hour before the bus left so Quincy, Steven and I walked to Dunkin Donuts. Almost 30 minutes later the bus arrived. We boarded the bus and we were all present but one person, Diego. Well, Diego was unfortunately stuck on the R train and missed the bus. 2 hours later we arrived at Dutch Springs.

Javi      The seniors guided us on how we should unload the van and from there we went on to one of  the most unforgettable days of my life. The visibility was great and we got to see a lot of different fish. I was actually able to dive twice with no problems and finished all my skills required for that day. The ride back was the best part because I was finally able to sleep.

 

Our Work at Head Of Bay – by Harold Bandouveris

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Our first day at Head Of Bay (HOB) was challenging.  Our goal was to set up a baseline and oyster trays on each of the reefs so that we can find the trays when we come back next year.   Oyster trays are vital to data collection on oyster growth, because they show which substrate (porcelain, clam, or oyster) would support the most spat on shell.  We started our day by getting on the 9:00 ferry to governors island, then proceeding to load our gear onto the Virginia Maitland Sachs.  The commute by boat takes an hour to get to HOB, so we had to get right to work on arrival to the site.  We put on our gear and preformed a giant stride entry into the water. Our dive team descended down the preset buoys to plant the shaft anchors. After the shaft anchors were planted, we tied the line onto the shaft anchor and swam it over to the other preset buoy and repeated the steps again. We eventually finished the baseline, but it took longer than expected due to the poor visibility.  

The next day we scrapped our previous plan, and thought of a new, more efficient, system for setting the baselines on the three other reefs.  Our new plan had Captain Abegg drop anchors with attached buoys and baselines at predetermined coordinates.  We formed two teams and descended at each reef to replace the weights with shaft anchors.   Along the baseline we planted trays every 40 feet on the left and right side, so our divers can know where they are next year.

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