I went snorkeling for the second time in my life. The first time I didn’t like it; water kept filling my mask and I inhaled copious amounts of water as I tried to find something remotely alive in the cloudy Pacific Ocean off an over-populated Hawaiian beach. I really had no idea what the big deal was as my boyfriend at the time merrily kicked his flippers about among the waves, his snorkel barely visible as he grew more distant.
This time it was entirely different. We took a small, inflatable motor boat out to our destination – the ride lasted over an hour as we passed one set of islands, then another, before finally arriving at the designated spot. The water was completely clear – a perfect pale, greenish blue. Waves were minimal and the water was 30 degrees Centigrade (that’s over 90 for you Americans). I was essentially in a large salt bath filled with color and life.
Within 10 minutes of swimming around, I saw sea turtles! They were completely unphased by my presence, seemingly happy to swim around with me, or in spite of me.
I also saw the most beautiful fish – the same fish I had seen a few months before at my local sushi restaurant. There, the tropical fish were not for consumption, but aesthetic; they swam around in a large tank for all customers to see as us humans feasted on distant cousins. Never did I think I would see these creatures in their natural habitat (Note: All these pictures were taken by a friend of mine, Ali Mac, who is a diver with a cool underwater camera. These are the same creatures I saw though!).
The coral reefs were pretty cool too:
During our second snorkeling run (after a short snack break), we went to yet another location where the reefs made the ocean about three feet deep. It allowed us to see the fish up close and personal. Fish like the clown fish, parrot fish, and these guys.
Cliché as it may be, I truly felt as if I was in another world. The coral looked like brains, fungi on a forest floor, or dead desert trees; it came in white, pink, brown, purple, and green. It was so hard not to touch them given how shallow the water was (tide was low in addition to the reef being large); I did my best to respect all the life I encountered.
As with the first time, water still got into my mask and stung my eyes, and I drank my share of salt water, but this time it didn’t matter so much. The sea creeping into my orifices was a small price to pay for what I was able to witness. I guess I can equate snorkeling with Brussels sprouts; I hated those tiny cabbages at first, but now I consider them one of my favorites. Snorkeling may not be something I do often, but I hope to experience its wonder again while I’m here.