I spent my afternoon with sea life. I am in awe of the life that exists underwater in the sea. It’s one of the reasons I love to scuba dive. Breathing underwater and visiting this part of our world is awesome. I have been a certified diver since 1985, and appreciate the opportunity to exist for a short time in this other world. Paul and I have wanted to scuba dive in Belize since our Cozumel experience in 1994. We are grateful that the winds have died down on our last day in Belize… our final opportunity to dive. We’ve been hanging out for three days, waiting for the gusty winds to subside.
The motorboat transporting us and a bunch of other scuba divers, travels for about forty-five minutes to a shallow spot of ocean spread out with coral reef. The area is called Esmeralda. Our two tank “drift dive” means we get to relax and take it easy. It should be effortless because the drifting water keeps us all moving in the same direction. It’s perfect to simply observe and enjoy. Gearing up, one by one, we each back-drop into the ocean. Almost immediately I become in tune with my surroundings as I hear the sound of my own breathing and regulate its rhythm through the regulator. I feel in sync with the fish and sea animals.
During our dive, I am followed by what I believe is a yellow and white snapper. He swims with me for a long distance, and several times, he seems to make direct eye contact with me. My daughters would say we became "BFF” (best friends forever). I’m not sure if my presence amused him or baffled him, but I am convinced he was trying hard to tell me something!
Yellow is the colour that I noticed the most amongst the fish. Some are pure yellow. Others are white and yellow striped, and still others turquoise or iridescent blue making sure to present a yellow splash somewhere on their body. Yellow is the colour that most absorbs light! That makes sense in the underwater world. The sun shines right through, even 80 feet below!
I understand now the concept of ‘sepia’. God’s colours are very different in the depths of the ocean world. Browns, tans, chocolates, with a smattering of orange and yellow. Dark greens clearly differ from the greens and browns of our earth surface. Long tubes of swaying purple or orange or blue plants remind me of Dr. Suess…”And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” Underwater life is otherworldly. It’s a place that I know exists, and just doesn’t feel completely real.
The blue sky shines through. Even at 80 feet below the surface, when I look upward I can see the sky. I wonder if the fish notice that too and if they too survive on the vitamin D provided by the sun.
Scuba diving is a co-operative sport. I would never dive solo! We are carefully arranged with buddies prior to descending. It’s important to review the hand signals together. Rounding your fingers reinforces “Are you okay?” Conspicuously handling your air gauge asks, “How’s your air level?” Moving fingers in a walking motion says, “Look! A lobster!” In the beginning of our first dive, I couldn’t find Paul! He often descends slowly because it’s hard for him to clear his ears at first. I know that, but still, I didn’t like not seeing him. In underwater sign language, I had a lengthy conversation with our dive master. “Are you okay?” he asks. “Yes. I’m fine. I’m fine,” I said again, “but my partner isn’t here. I don’t know where he is.” “Don’t worry!” Edwel responds, “He’s coming down. He’ll be here soon. You stay with me.” Reassured, I continue, but not until I actually see Paul and swim together am I feeling completely at ease.
Big fish! Barracudas, stingrays, nurse sharks sometimes measuring the length of my outstretched arms (about 5 feet). I was in awe of the way they swim, or just drift, coming so close to me and then moving on. I experienced no fear! It felt natural to be there with them!
It is a wonder to me that there is so much life under water, and, sometimes I even see evidence of socialization. At one point there were large groups of fish hanging out together near beautiful coral walls. There must have been about 50 of them! Though they congregated together in one place, they were clearly segregated, each hanging out with their own colours. The solid yellow tunas in one group, striped in another, and the plain silver kept to them selves in still another. It was a unique glimpse of sociological fish world. Just like what goes on in our own schoolyards!
This was our first dive in several years. If we had one more day, we’d go for the famous “Blue Hole”. Well….we’ll leave that for another time!