Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Weekend of Ocean


Saturday morning I went scuba diving for the Great Annual Fish Count. I thought that this was a silly event designed to get divers to all dive on the same day, but no it's really a serious thing! The New England Aquarium has divers count what kinds and how many fish they see, and they collect the data every year for a variety of dive sites to track the fish population. I had to fill out a whole form including depths and temperatures and habitats and everything. I was given a chart of popular fish types, so I could match what I saw to the proper fish species.

Kinda cool, I thought. Although I only saw about five fish, so my form was pretty sparse...

Then at the end of the day, the aquarium holds a BBQ for the divers and a raffle for prizes. You get raffle tickets just for filling out the fish count form. I won a subscription to New England Dive News, which is nice, but I had a 33% chance of winning a wetsuit and I didn't get one. :( Next year!

The actual dive was not what I expected, actually. This was a shore dive - which means you enter from the rocks at the edge of the ocean, instead of jumping off a boat. Never tried that before, and it's really awkward and funny-looking to watch divers crawling or sliding on their butt to get into the water. I thought I was pretty graceful, but then at the end a wave caught me and I flipped end over end. Okay, okay, I'm in, I'm in! :)

I've never been cold water diving before, and it's been two years since I last dove. So it was first time in this climate, first time at this dive site, first time entering from the shore, first time in a 7mm wetsuit, first time with a hood and gloves, first time using a dive flag, first time in two years, and... Yeah. I should have taken a refresher course.

I really underestimated how tough it was to get accustomed to everything. With the thick wetsuit and gloves, I couldn't feel anything, and with the thick hood I couldn't hear anything. Then the visibility was really poor (under 10') so I had trouble seeing my buddy, and my mask fogged up so I couldn't see anything anyway. I was already feeling claustrophobic, and then because I had to stick so close to my dive buddy (due to poor visibility) I managed to get myself tangled in the dive flag line. My buddy didn't notice because she was looking for lobsters. But then in trying to get myself untangled, I only managed to start floating upwards and I couldn't stay down (I think now that I wasn't carrying enough weights - again, first time so I had to guess on the weights).

It was really scary. I'm afraid to say I sort of panicked. The one thing you are not supposed to do while diving. I was never in any real danger, because my air supply was always fine, but I was just scared.

So this particular dive was a little awkward, but I think the next time I go will be much better because I will know what to expect. Onward!


In the morning today, at 5:30am, the fire alarm went off. Gack. I am SO not EVER prepared when the fire alarm goes off. I always peel myself out of bed, put on some clothes, and waddle my way down six flights and outside. And it never fails that I end up standing on the sidewalk next to some tiny girl who managed to get herself dressed, fling her hair back in the cute bed-head ponytail, and appear bright eyed while waiting for the firefighters to give the all clear.

I will not miss this part of the dorm when I move.

Oh wait, I'm moving to another dorm... sigh.

But this afternoon I went sailing with a few other friends. This I love. I know how to work all the lines without getting tangled, my friends are also good sailors so we can do the whole gracefully-shifting-weight-while-tacking maneuver, and we totally owned the river today.

Life is good! When we really caught the wind, three of us have to hang off one side of the boat to keep us from tipping over, and I get to fling back my arms and scrape the waves with my fingertips.

This, my friends, is what grad school is all about.

And the moral of the story is that Miss Outlier is much more comfortable above the ocean than under it.


  1. Hi, I've been lurking on your blog for a little while (I started reading because I think your pseudonym is awesome).

    Although I see you already know, I'd seen your previous post and was coming back to comment that fish counts are actually serious business! There are a lot of such data collection/public outreach events at national parks, sanctuaries, etc. I'm actually just learning about the statistics packages they come up with to compensate for the fact that the data is collected by untrained observers.

    Anyways, hello!


  2. Your dive adventure sounds great... I wish there was something like that around here. But I agree with the uncomfortable-ness of the 7mm wetsuits... I did my certification dives in a quarry in Pennsylvania in December in the snow, so we had the whole shabang (really, it would have been better suited to dry suit diving).