Location: West End, Tortola

If you take the name ActionQuest literally, the trip was a successful action packed 3 weeks. It was also much more than that. From the beginning it was apparent that we were going to be a close-knit group with all of the inside jokes and secret handshakes. The second half of the trip, everyone bonded on a deeper level. Everyone has been busy with program activities and daily duties. Even mundane activities, like doing the dishes, are an adventure at sea. Everyone has a great attitude about helping out – Doug and Sydnei have been especially helpful retrieving miscellaneous objects, such as cups and deck brushes that go overboard. For chores like clean up, we usually turn up the tunes and blast out the work. Jackson’s jokes, dance moves and constant requests for the song “Tropics” keep everyone in high spirits. As far as program activities go, the Neptune’s have been busy learning the ins and outs of dive equipment and working towards their wreck diver specialty certification. They’ve also had time to water ski/wakeboard, and Balazs was always the first to volunteer! Hannah got up on just one ski, and amazing accomplishment! Molly has the best of both worlds, switching between Neptune and dolphin activities so she can learn new skills and not repeat certifications from previous years. She joined the dolphins for their digital photography dives as well as underwater naturalist. The other dolphins have decided on group projects and have been using their dive skills to collect underwater data. Rebecca came up with the idea of researching fire coral growth on manmade vs. natural reefs for the girls’ project, while the boys studied sponge abundance vs. water quality. It was exciting to see the teamwork and communication they needed to collect their data while diving. Nate did and excellent job of using his new underwater photography knowledge to make research collections easier. The dolphins also got to participate in a turtle tagging expedition. It took a full team effort to corner the turtle and a spectacular grab from Will to obtain a turtle to tag. It was incredible to see how being involved in an ongoing research study effected the shipmates. Elena said that the turtle tagging solidified her resolve of becoming a marine biologist. Both Neptune and dolphin students have been working towards their night diver specialty certification. It has been one of Bratton’s favorite parts. Having the skills to be comfortable in the water at night allowed them to navigate out and back, finding tarpon and stingrays along the way. Any moments in between projects, studying for tests, sailing to dive sites, and breathing underwater has been filled with dance parties, beach outings and prank wars between boats. My personal favorite so far has been Lydia’s switch with her twin sister on Shazam! I can’t believe how quickly this trip has flown by, but I will never forget the amazing experiences and wonderful people I have met on my first ActionQuest adventure.