Today, Amy and I went for our first scuba dive in open water. Swimming and breathing comfortably forty feet underwater for 45 minutes is an experience in itself, but the beauty of marine life was separately spectacular. While we still put David Gallo’s six-minute TED Talk on “underwater astonishments” (a must watch) on our top ten list, observing the underwater world of coral, tropical fish, massive rocks, and striking colors in person should be on everyone’s bucket list.*
The following are some other observations from the day:
- We met two cute kids on the beach in Rio San Juan. Unlike many kids in developing countries, they didn’t run up to us asking for anything. They just were running around, trying to tickle us, pretending to ‘arrest’ us, and horsing around. It was apparent that we weren’t hiding any cash in our wetsuits, so they were clearly just trying to have some fun. (And they got some Coke (soda!) and chips out of it in the end.)
- As we mentioned in our previous post, our pool instruction and dive were both courtesy of the resort! This is a sweet deal.
- The sea color was a clear turquoise-green. Stunning, and quite different from anything Amy had ever experienced – even in the Bahamas.
- The colors of the marine life were unlike anything that we had seen on land. Some of the fish were neon yellow, reflective metallic-turquoise, or sleek black. These were colors we were used to seeing in highlighter packs, not in the ocean! The highly venomous lionfish were similarly freaking cool.
- Our dive instructor brought fish food with him (granola from lunch, actually!), making our first experience on the ocean floor one filled with huge schools of fish. Awesome.
- Amy held a sea anemone (which decided to attach itself to her hand) and I held and inspected a dead something.
- Our dive instructor spent some time peeling snails off of the coral because they are parasitic and have been overwhelming the local coral population.
- When Amy began the dive, she first felt like she was in a womb, and then felt like she was a fish. 🙂 She also found it really interesting that underwater you have to be aware of your surroundings in all directions (including up and down), whereas on land you usually only care about what’s in front, behind, and to the sides of you. In the ocean you have to be mindful of rocks over your head, coral under your feet, etc., making Amy appreciate why some fish have oddly located eyes on opposite sides of their bodies.
- Scuba diving is much cooler than snorkeling. Also, breathing is much more natural and easy when scuba diving.
- It was fascinating how nearly all of the fish didn’t seem bothered by our presence.
- We found a variety of crap on the ocean floor (we brought it up to dispose of it properly). Some highlights: underwear, flip-flops (two!), Duracell batteries, and a can of beans.
All in all, it was a totally rocking day. Whether or not we both go for PADI Open Water certification, we’ll definitely do some more diving before we leave the island.
* Similar to viewing awesome videos of marine life, space and terrestrial telescopes have produced marvelous images of the cosmos. These images are frequently captured in non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, but even those images that are taken in the optical range deliver sights that will never be seen with the human eye at the eyepiece of a telescope – no matter how large and powerful that telescope may be. Nevertheless, I find it an awesome experience to locate and personally observe even the faintest of celestial objects in the night sky. There is something about seeing an object yourself that can’t be matched by still and video images.
posted by jayhorowitz, with significant input from amybetho