In light of COVID taking away a lot of opportunities for our undergraduate team to do field research in the Florida Keys last spring and over the summer, instead of discussing the countless hours I spent on my laptop, I thought I’d share the experience of my first real dive ever that really began my passion for the ocean.
In 2013 my family took a trip to a Guanacoste, Costa Rica, the Pacific side of the country. After listening to my dad’s countless stories about diving throughout the Caribbean and even in the Charleston Harbor, I really wanted to go SCUBA diving. My dad signed us up for a resort diving course with the resort we were staying at.
We woke up first thing in the morning, where the dive instructor taught me the basics in a pool. Afterwards, we boarded the boat and took off to our first destination. The first dive was about 25 feet down. The most difficult part was trying to clear my ears and equalize for the first time, but once I got past that I got to see the beautiful world that lies just beneath the surface. Schools and schools of beautifully colorful fish. The most amazing starfish that looked like blue porcelain. It was a very serene experience. The dive went by so quickly and we were back on the boat before I knew it.
The second dive solidified my newfound love for diving in which the dive instructor took us a little bit deeper than we were supposed to go to see an extraordinary white tip reef shark. As a 13 year old girl I was both scared and amazed. It was very surreal. Quickly after returning from the trip I began the journey to getting certified.
I don’t have many pictures from the experience as I was a 13 year old with an underwater disposable camera where most of the pictures were of the island we dive around, Monkey Head Island, which looked like a monkey’s head, and blurry fish.
This picture is of me, my father, and the dive instructor.
Coming to Clemson, a school far from the coast, I didn’t think I would find a marine research lab. When I found out about the Childress lab and Something Very Fishy I felt I had found my place. My experience in this lab has been amazing and I have met many talented students and future scientists in this that have helped to motivate and teach me.
I am currently studying the effects of marine debris under PhD candidate Kea Payton and I am really enjoying it!