Best. Day. Ever…I kid you not. Today was a day that will be forever forged in my memory as the day I made a friend for life, and that friend was a grouper. On the last dive of the day at the East Wall, I was swimming along when I spotted a pretty good size grouper a few feet away. He looked at me with a face only a mother could love and the next thing you know, he’s two inches away from my dome port and I’m scratching his chin and clicking my shutter like crazy. Just like a puppy, he followed me for a good 20 minutes until I said goodbye and up I went towards the surface only to find another set of friends. My buddy Michael gave me some great advice this week on dealing with marine life. He said, “Slow down. This is their world, not ours. Let them come to you.” He was so right. As I swam towards the boat, twelve Caribbean reef squid were there looking at me with frank interest, and as I steadily waited for them to realize I posed no threat, they swam closer and closer until they were mere inches away. I know it sounds like a bunch of hippie-dippie bullcrap, but I really feel like I connected with these squid, and we swam together for a good forty minutes. They are curious creatures by nature and every time my strobes went off, they would change colors. Very cool stuff indeed. I have learned so much from so many amazing people here and have come in contact with some of the most interesting and passionate individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting (including the ex-drummer from the band Gogol Bordello — who knew?). It’s going to be hard for me not to come back next year, so I’m making it a point to scrape together every last penny I earn this year to get my butt back to the Backscatter Digital Shootout. Thanks to everyone who helped me along my underwater photography journey, including the whole staff at Backscatter, all the stellar people on the Holiday Diver II, and the Little Cayman Beach Resort for being SO accommodating. It’s been an absolute blast! And in celebration of how well this week went, I think I will take a good, long nap….