Coki Beach Scuba Diving 2022

So today, we are going diving!!! We are diving with Coki Dive Center at...Coki of course!

 

Just some quick back history: Coki was the very first place we EVER dove with back in 2016. Sakari had taken up scuba diving lessons back home and I figured why not give it a shot myself. She made it look so easy. That time around would be Sakari, Brayden, Kolin, Courtney, Kendra, the hubby and myself. It was quite the experience. We all loved it so much...except the hubby. He struggled with the current and I think got a charley horse and had to be pulled back by one of the instructors. So, he didn't get to enjoy it as much. But, that started our love for Discover Scuba Diving and we have been doing it ever since. 

Last time we were here, we had decided to try a different spot and ended up booking with a dive shop at Secret Harbor and had a really crappy time. We went out, we came back in, dive over. Wait what?!? I kid you not...15 min and we were done. Unheard of! Never again. I would not be going back to that place ever again. So, this time around I booked with Coki again since I knew the reef was good and so were they. 

Kiera had been super excited for today to arrive. She had talked about it since we first arrived saying she couldn't wait to go. She has watched Sakari dive on every vacation for the last, almost, 3 years and said she was so jealous of all of the pictures.  Well...the day has come and she was going to get her first experience. I did explain to her  "You know you have to wear this jacket and tank on your back right? How is this going to be on your sunburn?" She said "I think it will be ok" in this cute little high pitched squealy voice she does when she's excited. Ok then...it's 8:45am and it's time to go!

I wanted to get to Coki a little early...once again for a parking spot. When we arrived, I went up to tell them we were here. Our dive wasn't until 11:30am and I figured we would just hang out at Coki for the morning. The guy at the desk said his name was Ryan and he was going to be our instructor for the day. Cool. He asked if we would be interested in going now? He said he didn't have anyone else and if we were ready, so was he. I consulted with the family and they all said "YES!" So yes it was. I didn't even have a chance to get nervous. 

They gave us our wrist bands and I was sent over to Coral World to show them so I could obtain a parking pass. I guess they give you a 3 hour parking pass to put in the dash of your car if you are there for diving (even though when we went to Coral World the other day, they had told us "don't worry about it").

Now I went to go take a picture and for some reason my battery was already flashing that it was about to die. What the heck??? I was in panic mode. I knew from before that Coki used the same camera's for their dive pictures and I asked Ryan if they had a way to charge my battery. All of my batteries were saying the same thing despite me checking them before I left the house. I have no idea what is going on. He said he'd take my battery up to the office and charge it for me. Whew!!!

Ryan handed us our books to fill out and we all joked about Kiera being the newbie of the bunch. As we sat down and filled out our books, we are so used to doing this and I believe this would be our...maybe 14th...Discover Scuba Dive that we filled out all the multiple pages and pages of stuff in there and also filled out the test they give you. Of course except for Kiera who had no idea what any of it was. I guess it has just become such a habit for us and we know all the answers that we just kept going. Oops. 

After we were done, everyone got up and I yelled "Wait! I didn't get any pictures of us doing our books! Come back!" Sakari was laughing at me but kept walking. They had already made it back up to the front desk with Ryan and handing him their books. 

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Now it was time to take our short walk over to behind Coral World where they give you their class. This was the same place as before. Ryan started his class and as always, they make it a lot of fun.

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During class we hear this big THUMP. On the table was a lizard who had just fell from the wall after being chased by another lizard. 

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We let Kiera try to answer most of the questions Ryan ask...we wanted to make sure she understood....NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH....she had heard it so many times already...finger up in the air as she shouted those famous words once more...."Never hold your breath...got it!"

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Once class was over, Ryan asked Kiera all the questions on the test and she got them all right. Then it was time to head down to the beach to meet him to put the gear on. I had previously asked the owner if it was ok for someone to carry my equipment to the water for me to put on and he started shushing me and saying "I don't want to hear about any injuries, please don't tell me any of this, I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that, please ask the instructor". Um, ok. I told him it didn't prevent me from diving. I mean you are lighter in the water and therapy companies use pools for therapy on injuries. It makes it better. I wasn't sure what his problem was. I've never had a problem asking this of any other dive company I've been with. But, he was acting like if I told him about it, he wouldn't be able to let me dive. What the heck! I also brought it up to Ryan and he had the same reaction. Do they realize there are dive companies out there that cater to people with missing limbs and disabilities as well? I mean I have a release form from my doctor saying it was fine to dive.  It was just weird. 

Ryan came back with my battery and said it was charged. Whew! I could breathe a sigh of relief. Everyone geared up but me and Ryan did carry my equipment to the water and then it was time to do our skills in the water. I handed the GoPro to the hubby and told Sakari I was letting her take the pictures since she always does the macro pictures and gets up close to everything and this was the camera she always used for that. Her photography is always great. She asked if I was sure and I double checked the doors to the camera and handed it off to her.

Skills time...

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So far, Kiera was doing great. I did have concerns on how she would feel about removing her regulator from her mouth and "continuing to breathe" and still  be able to put it back in. Would she shoot up out of the water? Would she panic? NOPE! She is a pro! I tell you what, no matter what this kid does, she does it great the first time. As I mentioned before, Sakari has taken up skating with her dad. He goes to the skate parks and there are some pretty big drop ramps and it has taken Sakari quite some time to get up enough courage to be able to drop from them. They take Kiera for the first time and she just goes right down it like she had been doing it all her life. This is just one example of MANY! She's just awesome.

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Ok, it was time to start our adventure and Kiera was feeling good about it by the looks of things. 

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We stopped to take some pictures as we had done the last time we dove with them. Now last time they did have a photographer with them that took tons of pictures. We didn't have anyone this time around. I did ask if they had someone coming along and he told me no, unless I wanted someone, then he'd fine one. Eh, nah...since we have our own camera and GoPro, we would be ok. BIG MISTAKE! Ryan took my camera and snapped some pictures of us.

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Ryan adjusted my weights a bit and then we were off..

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As we are going along, we found a lizard fish.

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Sakari managed to get a good close up of him and then he swam off. 

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Sakari was going along and doing her close up and macro pictures. I had hoped that she remembered how to switch back and forth between the two...but when I got home to look at all of her pictures, I would discover that there were many that she would have in macro mode and look up and take a picture of something going by, therefore getting a completely blurry picture.

Brain Coral:

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Blue Bell Tunicates:

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Scattered Pore Rope Sponge:

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Black Sea Rod Coral:

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This was possibly green cup coral since they looked green inside. They usually don't come out unless it's nighttime and dark but I have got to see some on our snorkeling and diving trips in the past (except they were the orange cup coral). They would have been so pretty if they would have been "blooming". 

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Black Sea Rod Coral macro shot

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Blue Vase Sponge:

One of my favorites! They are just so pretty...and blue!

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Some interesting facts about sponges:

*Did you know that sponges are actually animals and not plants?

*There are over 5,000 sponge species around the world

*They have been around for over 500 million years. That means they've been here since the Chitons.

*Although they are animals, they do not have heads, eyes, brains, arms, legs, ears, muscles, nerves or organs!

*They do not move

*They use pores to filter water for food and oxygen and pores to push out the waste

*They have very few predators other than sea turtles and fish with toxins

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A four eyed butterfly swam by. She actually remembered to change settings to capture this shot.

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More Blue Bell Tunicates:

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Some interesting facts about Blue Bell Tunicates:

*They are also called "Sea Squirts"

*They are the only animal in the world that can produce cellulose.

*The blood of the animal is green instead of red. Oxygen is carried by the plasm and there is a "U" shaped heart to pump blood into the veins. The blood is very acidic.

*They are filter feeders and draw water into the body and siphon tiny plankton inside. They have such a fine net to filter the food that even bacteria cannot pass through it.

*They grow on dead coral or other hard substances like stones.

Branching Tube Sponge:

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Sea Plumes

Blue Sponge

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Trumpet Fish:

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Some interesting facts about Trumpet Fish:

*There are only 3 species of Trumpet Fish

*They have a snout with a teeth located in their lower jaw

*They have a row of spines on their backs that can be raised to ward off predators

*They can grow up to around 39 inches

*They can change colors to blend in with their surroundings and during mating

*They eat small fish and crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp, krill)

*They can float vertical with their head down to blend in with coral and fans

*Just like seahorses, after mating the female transfers the eggs to the males pouch to care for until they hatch

The hubby was busy with the GoPro and at some point I decided to take it from him. He does always get good video but I noticed he wasn't as far down as we were and I was concerned with what he may be getting. I wanted closer up pictures and since I didn't have a camera this time around, I had no control over any of the video or pictures that I relied on my family to get. This was getting the best of me. I'm so used to having a camera in my hand and capturing everything we see (because truth be known, even though he gets a lot of things, he doesn't always see what I do). 

I took the GoPro and started filming myself. Then it happened....WE FOUND KEVIN!!!

He was hiding but we spotted him and I was soooooo excited. Man he was big! They sure grow them big down here in St Thomas!

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I was just so fascinated with him. Sakari got the pictures and moved on after awhile (she did get there before me). Then I noticed the rest of the family had moved on as well. Ok, bye Kevin. It was great seeing you...oh how I loved him. 

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We continued on and I noticed that Sakari was swimming a lot higher than she normally does. Hmmm, I wonder what was up with that. She waved at me which told me that SHE was ok but I noticed that she no longer had the camera in her hand. It was now just dangling from her wrist. I would find that the battery had died. Ugh! Devastation came over me again. What the heck was going on??? I tried turning it on several times because I know that if you leave it off for awhile and turn it back on then it would start working again. But it didn't. It was done!

This would be the last picture that she took before it died. 

A Yellow Tailed Snapper:

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We were motioned over to a rock. Ryan has his stick and he is pointing. It was a chain moray eel. 

Aaaannnndddd...my GoPro stops working. You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH!!!!!!!!!!! I'm beyond frustrated now...I'm pissed. How can this be happening to me? Seriously? I frantically turned it off and back on and off and back on. No pictures of the eel. No video of the eel. Nothing...Nada...Nope! Well it ended up saying that the sd card was full. Wow, it sure didn't hold much if that's the case. I can't believe it. We have never filled it up before. On any vacation. I know we don't take a lot of video with it and we were probably using it a lot more this time around because of the camera issues...but still. 

Well, we no longer had any proof of what we had seen. All I can do at this point is enjoy the dive and pray that we got some good footage.

Then we came across Kevin's brother...we will name him Melvin. He was huge as well. Geesh! Once again, no pictures or video. I'm just devastated. And now that you see the pictures Sakari got, even more devastated because there were not a lot of them. :(

We continued the dive and the reef is just AMAZING there. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to do it again. I need my camera and equipment to work!

So here's the video the hubby and I took of our day diving. I hope you enjoy it. 

We dove for 50 minutes and went 40 feet according to our instructor. It was an awesome dive. It would have been better if I had my camera's working. I felt lost without mine. 

Kiera did awesome for her first dive. However, she was CONSTANTLY checking her air supply. Like non-stop watching that dial. After the dive we told her it wasn't necessary for her to do that constantly and the instructor watches it and ask for it every so often as needed. They know the territory and how far you can go on a dive and you would not run out of air. I think she'll do better on that part on the next dive she ever does. 

I removed my battery from the camera and put it back in and whaddayaknow...it worked again. UGH!