So I’m now fully underway in the internship here at the Darling Marine Center and throwing myself into the ongoing projects and my dive studies as well. So far I’ve started a Nitrox course, the AAUS Scientific Diving course, my Divemaster course, and almost finished with Drysuit training. With everything I’m learning these days it feels like being a new diver all over again! I’ve reviewed skills like Search and Recovery where I played a retrieval game with some of my coworkers and also retrieved a lift bag I dropped myself. The recovery game asked us to retrieve four painted golf balls after a fellow buddy team dropped them on the bottom. I got the opportunity to buddy with a friend I met in Australia studying abroad but who attended U.Maine for her own undergraduate career. Hilariously, we also were sporting the same wetsuit.
I’ve also been out now a total of seven times in my drysuit! My composite drysuit was loaned to me by USiA for the summer to help acclimate me to the Maine diving temperatures, which believe me are much colder than what I’ve previously dove in the Caribbean and Great Barrier Reef. Skills wise, drysuit training has so far been my biggest challenge. Relearning buoyancy control in the drysuit is difficult but I can absolutely tell the difference in my own comfort in below 50 degree Fahrenheit waters. I’m still working on being comfortable enough in the suit to use it during scientific dives where resting upside-down is highly likely, but hopefully I will be ready to use the suit once these “summer” water temperatures drop back below 45. I’m thankful for the chance to learn to use the suit without the pressure of buying or renting one on my own. Thank you Kim Johns and USiA!!
Although my photos don’t show it quite as well, the dives here are pretty beautiful. On any dive I can expect to see lobsters, rock and jonah crabs, urchins, fish occasionally, and many different kinds of anemones – one of my personal favorites. Recently I went on a trip to Monhegan Island, where, besides the quaint village on the island and the amazing swim-throughs on the stone dropoff, I had a chance to see seals while underwater. It was a great experience to see them up close and in an environment where their grace overwhelms their tendency to flop. On this dive not only did I dive dry, but completed my Nitrox certification and dove for much longer than I would’ve otherwise been able to. I have photos from above the water but from below are still to come!
Anyways, I’m on my way to getting my AAUS certification and Divemaster certifications so I’m also doing lots of dive physics and physiology. It makes me excited to think that one day I could be teaching someone else these things and introducing them to the underwater world. Its definitely a once in a lifetime summer to work so closely with both a great DSO and a great working dive team!
I’ll have more updates soon on the different research projects I’ve been working on soon. Until then, I hope you all get some time underwater!
-Katy Newcomer, AAUS Intern