Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Creatures of the Deep
A face only a mother could love.....and me. I love him.
I know a little bit about what lurks down in the deep. A year ago this month, I got my diving certification so that I could go swim with sea turtles in the Caribbean last summer (which I did!).
Let me tell you...learning to dive in the cold waters of the north Pacific was a lesson in respect for mother nature. The cold water, poor visibility, powerful currents and stinging jellyfish are very clear reminders that there is no fooling around with the laws of the sea. Except when you run into a wolf eel.
The first eel we saw was so big and lazy, he wouldn't come out of the rocks to play. I was a little relieved, as he looked like he wanted to bite my head off. His head was the size of a basketball, and so was his open jaw. But then out of nowhere, this little guy came swirling around me, checking me out with as much curiosity as I had toward him. He let me pet him and scratch his chin, which I did with great care, as I didn't want to rub off his protective slimy coat. He was like a little puppy...full of beans. And then when the camera's flash went off, he quickly lost interest in me, and was all over the photographer and his camera, as you can see in the second picture. He was fascinated with it. I was fascinated, completely, with him.
I know now, that diving isn't something I'm passionate about. My fears get in the way. I'm always thinking about the what if's (because in my overactive imagination, lot's can go wrong!)...always looking forward to surfacing, and breathing "real" air again. This is why I wish I could grow gills...it would eliminate the fear. Even so, I have seen some incredible things in these waters. Here, the marine life is protected, so there is such an abundance of life. Everywhere you look, there is something new to see. It is the closest thing to visiting a different planet. No oxygen, weightlessness, alien lifeforms everywhere.
My last dive last year was a night dive. I saw one of the most magical things I have ever seen with my own eyes. My dive instructor took me right to the ocean floor and took my flashlight from me and buried it in the sand. The darkness swallowed us whole. But then he waved his hands through the water, and all around me were billions of shooting stars, swirling around me, madly in all directions. Phosphorescence. Microscopic creatures that light up like tiny underwater fireflies when they are disturbed. Absolute enchantment. I was wide eyed and brimming with wonder. For as long as I live, I will never forget that experience.
If I never dive again, I will be content. I've had a small taste of what it would be like to be a fish, and it is wonderful. If I do return, I will be sure to revisit my new underwater best friend and see how life is keeping with him in the big deep sea.