We’re not going home…not really.

So the Bahamas field course 2016 has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean I’ll leave without posting one last blog about the last few memorable days of the trip (and the emotional goodbyes).

After our action-packed days which focused on lionfish, sharks and rays our project groups were all put to work on creating our videos and doing research on a given topic; my group topic was “plastics”. We all pitched our research ideas for our topics to the lecturers and to leading researchers at the institute – no pressure there. Once ideas had been finalised we prepared for our day of data collection and filming on the following day. But for that evening we took a trip to the local marina and had a cocktail (or two) to enjoy ourselves before we really threw ourselves into our work.

As a group we had decided to look at several different beaches and compare the amount of plastics on each beach, as well as observing whether large or small plastics were more abundant. We had a lot of fun filming, and (spoiler alert) hopefully the intro to our film will be enjoyable for everyone which follows a FRIENDS opening kind of feel. We got way too enthusiastic about filming but it made the last few days before leaving that bit more unforgettable.

In the morning of the day before we were due to fly home, those of us who scuba dive were told we were going to do our first deep dive at a drop off of over hundreds of meters – TERRIFYING. With a bit of a messy start in the morning due to the main boat not starting, we sorted ourselves out onto two smaller boats and whisked off to the dive site, we were all incredibly excited to experience the coral reef wall and drop off. As we arrived we were soon kitted up and in the water ready in our buddy groups. We descended down and reached almost 27 meters to the wildlife booming coral reef below us. There were fish swimming all around us as we swam to the edge of the reef…and then we swam out into open blue water with nothing to see below us for miles. It felt so surreal. We followed the edge of the coral reef wall as we swam over the nothingness – I couldn’t get over the whole experience throughout the dive. Being a deeper dive however meant a shorter dive due to more air being consumed at lower depths so as we turned back we swam through the coral reef seeing endless amounts of life. The lecturers were also lucky enough to see a loggerhead male turtle – jealousy does not even cover how I was feeling! However, I can say for sure that this wall dive and drop off was the most incredible dive I have done, and I have been lucky enough to have done it in the Bahamas.

Myself diving over the drop off.

We all rushed our packing in the afternoon, all too excited at the thought of our end of trip party and BBQ. The food was amazing and everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves, dancing without a care in the world (with a bit of crowd surfing thrown in too). The same can even be said for the lecturers who were perhaps even better than us, who would have thought it! It was the perfect way to end the night with all of us together singing the night away…literally. The party ended in massive group hugs with all the lecturers – perhaps they thought us odd students but for us we couldn’t thank them all enough for making this such an incredible experience none of us will forget. They truly made this better than we could have even imagined.

The gang on our last night before heading home.

After a heavy (somewhat) night we were up and ready to go but first a few of us went and took one last look at the beach as the sun was rising. Emotions were flying as we came to the realisation that we were actually leaving this beautiful place.

These past two weeks have truly been some of the best days of my life and that’s no exaggeration. I have become friends with some amazing new people and the experiences we have gained and the sights we have seen will never be forgotten. Words can’t describe how hard it was to say goodbye – I even get emotional as I write this now currently sat in Heathrow airport! I can’t thank the lecturers and everyone behind the scenes enough for everything they have done. I hope that soon I can return to Cape Eleuthera, it’s not a place you can go to just once in your lifetime.

Watching the sunrise one last time – Photo by Kelle Holmes.

But for now it’s back to the real world, however (as cheesy as this may sound) we will carry these memories with us forever.

eew204    January 16th, 2016    Bahamas archive