The Aquatic Life with Jon Fletcher

(Originally written in August, 2014)

For the past year, especially for the last month, I’ve been kicking myself for not learning to SCUBA dive.  What an amazing experience!  Last summer I went on a vacation to Turks & Caicos, a small island group between the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, where I had my first taste of SCUBA.  It was a very shallow dive – about 25 feet, and I loved it!  I signed up for a very low-level certification course the resort offered, and did two “instructional dives” as part of it.  Then, over the Christmas holiday, my daughter and I went to Cancun, and I completed the “Open Water” certification, which included 2 more “instructional dives”.   Fascinating!

Last month I had the good fortune to go to Cozumel with my daughter, and Cozumel is considered one of the best places to dive.  Since the “instructional” part was over, I considered these to be my first “real” dives, even though there was a  Dive Master with the group.  Dive Masters generally have local knowledge of the dive sites, and their ultimate goal is to protect the safety of the divers.  I did 6 dives, and all of them with great Dive Masters.  But the highlights were the fish, and the corals, and the colors, and the awe of it all.  My first dive I saw a Moray Eel, probably about 6 feet long.  A little bit scary, yes, especially when the Dive Master petted him and got him to open his mouth!  Amazing!

Another dive featured a Nurse Shark – probably about 4 feet long, but he wasn’t very close to us. With visibility around 100 feet, it was hard to gauge the distance, but he was probably about 30 feet away.  The most unnerving moment, however, was on a dive when we saw a Barracuda just watching us – he seemed to be staying in place – and he was probably 40 feet away.  But, like an extremely high percentage of fish, he didn’t bother us because we didn’t bother him!  Other highlights of the dives included a few sea turtles, smaller eels, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, rays, grouper, and thousands of gorgeous fish of all shapes, sizes and colors –  all coexisting amid all of the coral and rock formations.

Each dive gave me more confidence, and that allowed me to relax and enjoy the dives even more.  And to think that most of this was only about 35-60 feet under!  I’m already working on a Christmas dive trip for this year. Virgin Islands? Caymans? Hawaii?