Written by WU Student, Moa Björestam (’25)

Hello! It’s my pleasure to be writing my very first post for Warner University. My name is Moa Björestam, I’m originally from Gothenburg, Sweden, and I’m currently in my Sophomore year at Warner University.

This semester I’m taking an introductory class in Ecology with Professor Estabrooks. During the first week of class, he told us that he was planning a snorkeling trip to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo over Spring Break. I have never snorkeled in a coral reef before, so I immediately decided to go. I got my ticket for the boat and then the countdown for spring break officially started!

The van left promptly at 6:30 a.m. on the Thursday of our Spring Break. I wanted to have the front seat to have the best view and be able to take photos during the ride, so I decided to show up extra early. At 6:29 a.m. everybody was in the van and we began to make our way south to the Florida Keys. 

We made a stop at Arby’s in Moore Haven to get breakfast and stretch our legs. I had never been to Arby’s before, but I had eaten oats in the van which was enough breakfast for me so I didn’t get anything here. We headed further south, passed Lake Okeechobee, and entered the Everglades. I have heard of Everglades National Park before, but the national park is just a small portion of the almost 5,000,000 acres of wetland. For a while, we had wetlands on both sides of the road and beyond the horizon.

We arrived at Pennekamp State Park with enough time to check out the gift store and get ready for the boat ride. Grecian Rocks is located a few miles offshore and it took us about 20 minutes to get there. The sea was rough and according to Professor Estabrooks, it was one of the roughest conditions he had ever snorkeled in… but that didn’t stop us! Under the surface, a colorful world of beautiful corals and fish opened up! Each of us had underwater cameras we used to record what we saw and in the following days, we shared our videos and got the opportunity to identify several species of fish and coral that we encountered. After about an hour of snorkeling, it was time to get back to the mainland.

We left Pennekamp State Park and went to eat lunch at Chick-fil-A in Miami, Florida. On our way back to campus we saw a gorgeous sunset. In total, we spent 9 hours on the road this day, which might seem like a lot, but I still enjoyed it. We had many good and funny conversations in the van and as we all know, time flies when you’re having fun. Thanks to the people around me, the hours on the road didn’t bother me at all and I enjoyed every second of the Spring Break trip down to the Florida Keys.

Below is a short video of my time at John Pennekamp State Park with my classmates and Professor. Enjoy!