Sunday, October 09, 2005

Go Dive!

I took a break this weekend from surfing and came over to the Great Barrier Reef for some diving. I did two dives this morning and in one word, it was INCREDIBLE. I think everyone should learn diving, and then explore the world down below water. It's bigger than IMAX! ;-)

I am staying at the Heron Island, an island on the reef itself, in the Marine park. It is a really tiny island (takes about half an hour to walk around it), and it sits on top of a huge reef shelf. The dives were a short boat ride off the island.

During the first dive, I was a little disoriented. Being under water, at 40ft, is still somewhat of a novel experience for me. And everyone else on the dive being expert divers kind of made me look even more green. I was under water for nearly half an hour, and for most part I spent it kind of under the spell of the incredible beauty that surrounded me, not to forget trying not to make too big a fool of myself. It was one incredible experience -- to be surrounded by amazing stuff that IMAX movies are made of, with water squeezing the air bubbles in you, and then there is even more beautiful things that swim by you, taking you somewhat by surprise.

The second dive was a lot better. I was a lot more relaxed, and if I thought the earlier dive was fascinating, this one beat it hands down. We descended to about 18m, and swam along the reef for about half an hour. At one point the divemaster signalled us to come over, and we swam around a coral to find a, yes!, a shark beneath it. It was at least a meter long, maybe 1.5 meters or so. At first sight, I felt a slight twinge of fear. But when the divemaster just went close to its face and waved it out from the coral, I let myself just take it all in. I was swimming 18m beneath the sea level, about a couple of feet away from a 4.5ft shark, the one with the JAWS, so close I count its gills and had time to compare it with what I had seen in books, documentaries and Spielberg's horror flick, and my guide was even close to it and trying to scare it out of its hiding space. I assumed it wasn't going to come for me -- there were more meaty looking divers around me. Surely the guide wouldn't be waving at it if there was indeed a risk. So, I just watched, fascinated, enthralled. No shark cages for me, no sir! Just give me this fearless divemaster!

On my second dive I had taken my underwater camera with me. On the first dive, I reckoned it would be too much hassle, too much of a distraction. I clicked one photo before the dive to make sure the camera worked but, as though to make Murphy the lawmaker give the i-told-you-so smile, the camera refused to work once I entered the water. So I have no pictures to prove what I saw, but I know I'll never forget it either. Tara the fearless divemaster was there as a witness!

I think everyone in this world should learn to dive and explore the world under water. It is worth it! Go dive!

I am headed back from my trip to Heron Island, back to the "mainland." I start my third part of surfing tomorrow morning. My break from vacation has ended, and the vacation itself is drawing to conclusion. In another eight days' time I will be in Bangalore, and then there will be families, flights, weddings and back-to-work.

1 comment:

Krishna Motukuri said...

Wow!! I'm learning diving.