Of Bubbles and Vibrant Colors

I have always loved the ocean, so it was only natural that I picked up a mask and snorkel on my first Caribbean trip. I was mesmerized by the vivid blue, green and yellow fishes below me. Then something else caught my eye. A scuba diver was gliding deeper into the water and swimming with the fish. I decided right then, I had to learn to scuba dive. Back home in southern California, I took my certification dives off the coast of Catalina. While it was interesting watching the fluorescent orange Garibaldi fish swimming through kelp forests and spying the occasional scurrying spiny lobster, I wanted more. These waters only had limited visibility. For more vibrant views, I needed to dive in warm waters.

My husband and I booked a trip to Tahiti for its crystal clear waters. I couldn’t wait for that first dive. The crew took six of us out to one of their favorite spots. All my previous dives where on large boats, where we walked out on a platform and jumped in feet first. This time I was on a zodiac boat which only has rubberized sides and no place for a platform. There would be no feet first diving. Instead I would be doing a backwards flip into the water, and I was a bit nervous. The dive captain, Michel, said, “Don’t worry; it is easy, just a quick flip. This way you won’t see the sharks around you.” I laughed at his joke, and when it was my turn, I flipped over into the water.

When I entered the water like that, it was as if I fallen into a big glass of fizzy water. All I saw were tons of bubbles surrounding me. When the bubbles dissipated, I had to quickly clamp down on my regulator to stop my jaw from dropping in amazement. This feeling must have been what the astronauts experienced when they took their first steps on the moon. This was a vast new world with sights too amazing.

I saw fingers of waving yellow coral with tiny red fish timidly poking their noses out. There was thick brownish-purple coral where I noted fish in camouflage. Alternating clouds of yellow and black striped fish and cobalt blue fish drifted past us. There were even lovely blue starfish. Michel entertained us as he fed a large sea turtle that did flips for him like a pet dog. We eagerly followed a graceful 12 foot
manta ray as he glided to the ocean floor, not realizing we had dropped 100 feet.

Too soon the dive was over, but I was hooked on this new adventure. Later on I viewed the pictures we took on the dive. What I thought Michel had said as a joke was reality. My husband had snapped a photo of me as I made my first turn downwards. There in the picture swimming behind me was a lemon shark.

C Henderson

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