by Barbara Eller
What do divers do when it rains? They go diving, of course! Oh, come on now, we are already wet, so why not? Of course, I am not talking about a storm with lightning and thunder, just a nice light, gentle rain.
It's about 7 AM Wednesday morning, and I am getting my gear ready for a dive. Today there are no cruise ships in port, so my friend Jorge and I will have the reef to ourselves. I keep my eye out over the water because it is overcast and a light wind is coming in from the east. A tropical storm is forming and we expect to get wind and rain from it, depending on how close it decides to get to us. Patrick and I load up the car and head into the shop (we live 7.5 km south of town.) We quickly get the boat ready and Patrick sees us off.
We head south to a favorite site, Kabanak; as the rain heads toward us, the water begins to get a bit choppy. The rain actually looks as if it is "walking" across the water, then up onto the beach, then over the buildings.
We arrive and do a check of gear and a back roll off the boat into the water. Jorge signals "ok, ready to descend" and we drop down into another world. The ocean wraps her arms around us, fills us with peace and shows us things we never imagined. Jorge and I are looking for the "little people" that live on the reef. Right away we spy some flamingo tongues on a sea fan. Ok, look at the back of your little finger down to the first knuckle; that is about the size of a flamingo tongue. Its flesh is pale in color and has black asymmetrical circles on it. There are three of them on this fan. Jorge takes some pictures and we move on. As we pass over one of the canyons, we see something that looks strange. We drop down to about 55 feet and find a young turtle with its head and part of its body in the coral. It is fast asleep and doesn’t realize we are there, so we "tiptoe" away.
As we are swimming I roll over on my back and see the raindrops falling on the surface. Yes, you can be over 50 feet down and still see the surface of the water. Looking up, the water is gray and the raindrops appear like rain hitting your window. I roll back over and see Jorge investigating something. He found some cleaner shrimp hiding under some coral. Cleaner shrimp don't look like the ones you put cocktail sauce on. They are very small and almost transparent, with small blue spots on them. I will have to show you a picture for you to understand. Their job in this undersea world is to keep fish clean. A fish will stop by the shrimp's "place of business" and the shrimp will climb all over the fish and inside its mouth and gills, cleaning off dead skin, parasites and other debris. And you thought man invented the laundromat.
We spend the rest of our dive enjoying this magical world. Reaching the surface after our safety stop, we discover a blue sky, no clouds, a bright sun and calm, blue water. We are back on the boat and the captain asks what to do now. Jorge and I look at each other and together say, "Let's go diving!"
Happy Bubbles ...