Diving is the type of sport I love to do. It’s entertaining, relaxing, educational, humbling and best of all, I will be able to continue enjoying it until later in life.
I once met a lady in Bonaire (Dutch Antilles) that was in her 80s and had been diving for decades. She couldn’t have weighted more than 100lbs so I was naturally curious about how she planned on carrying around 30lbs of gear in and out of the water through a ladder in the back of the boat.
While I thought about the most polite way to ask, she smiled, no doubt seeing confusion and worry on my face.
“I love to dive, but I don’t carry my gear anymore.”
She touched my arm and leaned over to tell me a secret. “You see dear, I tip really well!”
Indeed she did! And the boat crew were more than willing to carry her gear for her and lower it to the water where she would wait to put it on in a gravity “free” environment. They were also ready when she came up at the end of the dive to haul her gear onto the boat so she would only need to haul herself up the ladder. And that she did nimbly and gracefully, which the rest of us failed to do, carrying our wet gear.
I remember thinking ‘What a smart woman! I hope I can be like that when I “grow up”!’
I have been a diver for close to a decade now and believe everyone should give it a try, at least once.
I know it sounds scary, but there is nothing more exciting than dropping into a clear blue ocean and being part of a world that exists outside our landlocked realm. And if relaxation is your thing, being underwater is like meditating, except you are floating. In fact, it is so fun, it should be illegal!
Over the years, my novice apprehension about being 60-130 feet underwater grew to sheer fascination for marine life and our oceans. I have learned to be an observer and a part of this incredible place. Sometimes I wonder if by loosing our gills, if we ever had them, led to us taking one step back in evolution.
I love being underwater and anything related to it, so Finding Nemo is one of my favorite movies (yes, I know I am an adult). It was written by divers and it is based on real marine life. I giggle every time I see absentminded Blue Tangs and think of Amnesia sufferer Dory and I love watching turtles gliding effortlessly by and eying me like “Hey Duuude!”
Until my trip to Hawaii, I had met some, but not all protagonists in the Disney movie. On this trip to Hawaii, I met a new one- Gill- the grumpy, battered Moorish idol fish living in a dentist aquarium. Let me tell you, they are really grumpy in the real world too. I was chased by one while snorkeling in a lagoon when it thought I was in its personal space…I almost choked, laughing out loud at its resemblance with Gill, I was a good 3 feet away from it. In my later dives, I met other Moorish idols that were friendlier and I managed to take a few pictures to share with you.
In our dives we also saw tons of Morays- think Little Mermaid. In this case, they are not evil as Disney portrayed them. Their sharp teeth and open mouth stances used to freak me out when I first started diving, but now I love looking for them among the coral.
Unfortunately, Hawaii is not home to the main character in the movie- Nemo or clown fish, so I didn’t have an opportunity to say “Ah there you are!”.
There is however one specimen that calls Kona home that made me have a series of panic attacks planning this trip- Tiger Sharks! Thankfully during the time we were visiting the island, we did not encounter one underwater. I am pretty sure at least one was around, but I was glad it chose not to introduce itself to us.
In one of our dives, the divemaster suddenly changed direction as he saw a big shadow swim by. I looked, acknowledged the shadow and his hand signs and kept swimming towards the boat. The divemaster was confused and perplexed, most divers would love to get a shark sighting. NOT me! I am unjustifiably petrified of sharks, or really anything that could bite me in half…
A second group that was in the same boat with us encountered a smaller reef shark in the same dive.
On our way back to the marina our boat jolted midway, shouts went out and people flocked to the front of the boat-our captain sighted another Tiger Shark on the surface in front of the boat. It was around 14 feet long, he estimated. Again, I was glad it had better things to do than kill me through a heart attack underwater.
Even with all this shark activity, I swallowed my fear of sharks and made one exception for a dive of a lifetime- Manta Night.
I know, I know… everyone that has had a near death experience usually says they had a bad feeling and they shouldn’t have done it, but the dive was totally worth it and I would do it again.
Here are some underwater pictures of Kona, Hawaii. I also found a movie I recorded that I will be posting soon from our Manta Night Dive and if you are not convinced about giving diving a try, at least watch Finding Nemo.
Next time you see a pack of gulls by the shore, I dare you not to hear them say “Mine, Mine, Mine!”