There is only one place on planet Earth humans have not fully explored, mapped, or even understood.
Strangely enough this region covers over two-thirds of the world, yet remains a vast and mysterious terrain. To this day, it is still an area waiting to be discovered: the depths of the ocean. We lived on the shores of the Pacific while I was growing up and it seemed to me I had always heard tales of adventure rising out of the waves. Rumors of submerged treasures, wrecked Spanish galleons lying silently awaiting to be found – what girl would not be inspired by romantic stories like this to become a diver?
Plunging into the depths, mask on face and air tank strapped to my back, I feel as if I am entering outer space. In the dark beneath the water’s surface my senses are limited to paltry sight. Weightless, like an astronaut, surrounded by acres of wild territory I float and swim with no landmarks for guidance. Diving, for me, is an indescribable experience filled with both wonder and danger. It reminds me that I am not the master of the universe. It opens my eyes to creatures, both large and small, who command my respect. Here, unlike the aquarium, I cannot press my face close to the tentacles of an octopus or watch clownfish wandering aimlessly in circles. Exploring underwater allows me, as a tolerated guest, to take part in the ballet of life occurring beneath the waves. Each time I go diving I find stories much more fascinating than the ones I heard as a child about sunken caskets.
I have yet to find the forgotten relics of a Spanish armada on my diving trips, but what I have discovered has been much more valuable to me. I have watched the movements of a school of herring passing through like a well coordinated parade. The sway of the anemone, the darting of butterflyfish, and the hide and seek play of gobies have been like a silent dance performance. I have spied the delicate exposed skeleton of a glass-fish, seen the bizarre physiognomy of a whiff, and witnessed the encounter between a spine-foot and a parrotfish. I have swam alongside tiger sharks, been a hand’s breadth away from a moray eel’s shy head peeking out from its home, and met a trio of damselfish face to face. Each of my marine experiences has been a discovery, a precious memory, an epic story of my own to tell. I would not have these riches if I never set foot underwater.
Diving is one of the few opportunities where I experience wildlife behavior in its natural setting. As a diver, I can feel the allure of adventure fathoms away from mapped territory. Exploring underwater allows me to also understand the complicated threads by which we are all dependent on our native resources, whether they are seen or not. While outer space is truly another world, the cosmos underwater is our very own and yet it is a world unlike any other. I doubt I will ever stumble upon a cache of precious metals or the long forgotten ruins of a steamer, but the valuables I locate underneath the waves on each of my diving trips are worth more than buried jewels. I began a love affair with diving because of picturesque stories of buccaneers, but I happily tell tales more wondrous than the ones I heard, of a globe filled with underwater life waiting to be explored.
BESPOKE TRAVELER TIP #10
“Exploration can reveal as much about ourselves as it does about the world we live in.”
For more water adventures, check out “Into the Blue.“