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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Taking the Plunge: Scuba in Jamaica - Page 5

Written by Gary Pearson
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Hiding behind my mask, I quickly forgot about the slight blip and followed the others through a labyrinth of narrow passages. Arms stretched out, I could touch the reef on both sides. Some parts were mossy and soft, while others, like a porcupine’s quills, were hard and unforgiving.

French grunts, yellowtail snappers and ocean surgeonfish seamlessly scoured the reef, popping in and out of the coral’s porous foundation.

Swimming free of the confined passage, Halacoglu motioned to the sandy seabed. I thrust forward, attempting to gain a better vantage point. Its beady eyes barely visible, a stingray blended into the clayish canvass, exhibiting its aptness for camouflage. As promised, the shark diver cradled the resting stingray. It lay motionless, appearing to be in the midst of a mid-afternoon siesta. This was my chance. In his element, Halacoglu delicately handed over the stingray, like a newborn being passed from mother to father for the first time. Praying the baton pass didn’t set off its venomous defense mechanism, I carefully held on to tropical dweller. Slippery and rubbery, its skin was comforting to the touch. The stingray suddenly stirred and wiggled free, fleeing into the murky abyss. The moment, however fleeting, will be perpetually inscribed to memory. 

“Don’t chase the marine life,” I recalled Halacoglu saying before the dive.

I didn’t need to be told twice.

This is how Halacoglu must have felt when he swam with whale sharks and manta rays. Well, maybe not, but I was still on Cloud 9. No one was going to burst my bubble, except maybe my depleting oxygen supply.

My air supply stayed steady at 50 bars, the minimum level permitted underwater. It was time to swim to the surface.

As we hopped aboard the bobbing vessel, the experienced diving groups boasted of their encounter with a blacknose shark.

“We must have just missed it,” Halacoglu despairingly pronounced. “But we touched a stingray and there is always a next time.”

For the first time I related to the conflicted instructor’s sentiment. Nothing else matters while exploring a world so mysterious, unusual and perplexing.


© Gary Pearson



(Page 5 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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