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 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.


  1. These are such amazing experiences! The eel...diving a night...I think you are much braver than you give yourself credit for! :)

    I wouldn't be a good diver. I love the ocean passionately...but I'm terrified of deep water...and can't swim. Go figure?

    I love those underwater photos too. It truly does look like another world...

  2. Jaime,
    As i read through this post , Louis armstrong sang through my head ' what a wonderful world'...
    Was totally carried away by your narations, the chilly waters, your new lord of the ring " the eellyphant"...watery fireflies, and shooting stars...enjoyed it!!
    Thankyou Jaime, for reminding me that if we don't take care of the planet , there won't be anymore of this " close encounters with the rare kind".
    the reason all the more for which we should protect these creatures from those creatures who make bombs , and pollute the ocean.



    nb: just replied to your mail.

  3. I think you are braver than you know. Your fears of diving are real, but look what you experienced when you dived right into that fear!

    The title of your blog is very accurate. As you share your love and respect for the planet with us, we learn how to walk gently with you.

  4. I've never done any diving..but the magical way in which you describe it makes me want to give it a try.
    That you faced your fears..and dove deep - is an experience you'll grow from.
    Love the underwater photos. A face - only a mother could love!!!!

  5. Yesterday I wrote about how I love to read stuff that is written like a painting. This is incredible - the night dive description made me so happy!! Thank you!

  6. "If I never dive again, I will be content."
    It's a rare and beautiful thing to be able to say something like this: "I did it, and I'm satisfied. Next challenge, please :)" That's what life is about.

  7. I admire that you undertook to do this. Nothing scares me more than the ocean, the bottom of the ocean, etc. I can't swim at all so this is something that I can't imagine ever doing. Seems that it would take a LOT of courage to go down there but the lightshow you experienced sounds phenomenal.

    You are an amazing creature yourself. :)

  8. This looks like such an amazing thing to do.. :-) And I love the photos!!

  9. i'll have to email you about an eel...a story I watched years back...have to run! Love the photos! and you! xx

  10. eeeeeeek! You brave girl! I can't even swim...


    My daughter had the chance to float beside a turtle in Hawaii and she is in awe of that moment.

    How beautiful to fulfill your wishes, yes?


  11. i seem to recall from one of your earlier posts something about fireflies...but it sounds like your underwater ones were even more magical than the terrestrial sort! what an experience!

    i'm not sure i would have wanted to scratch that not-so-little eel guy under his chin, but what an opportunity to see and interact with such a creature! lucky that you live where the waters are protected and you had the experience. even luckier that you shared it with us!! wonderful!

  12. Your journal is so lovely and beautiful indeed.

  13. ooohhhhh.... Lucky, lucky you. Of course, luck favors those who do. I say lucky, but I know you wouldn't have had such a magical experience if you hadn't gotten yourself certified. I have always wanted to scuba dive. This post is what I call amazing inspiration! Thank you.