Saturday, March 28

Scuba Diving - Day 1

We embarked on our first "real" dive today. Last weekend we did a practice dive, entering the water from the beach. Today, we took the boat about 10 minutes out to an amazing coral reef. We performed 2 dives today, both descending to 12 meters, or roughly 40 feet.

On our first dive, I had trouble regulating my ears. I had trouble last week also, but hoped that some things I learned during the week would help. However, I still could not clear them! I tried every method shown to me, but in the end, just had to descend much, much slower than my dive mates. Eventually, the pain subsided & my ears cleared, making the dive more enjoyable. Once I reached the sea floor & joined my dive instructor & fellow classmates, things seemed manageable. Then, it hit me... "I'm sitting on the bottom of the ocean! What if I see a shark? What if I can't get enough air in my lungs? What if I start freaking out?" Which is precisely what I did! I started experiencing anxiety & had a mini panic attack. It was the same feeling I get when I have to speak in front of a crowd - accelerated heart beat, tightness in my chest, closed throat, shortness of breath. Not a good thing to experience 40 feet under the ocean! So, I quickly swam back to the rope attached to our boat with the intention to start making my way back to the surface. I figured a little fresh air was all I needed to calm me down. However, the assistant dive master was quickly on my heels & kept me down on the bottom. He signaled for me to look him directly in the eyes & to take deep, controlled breaths. I followed his lead & was able to rejoin the group moments later. That was quite a scary moment for me, though. And, one I hope to never repeat!

After we reviewed & mastered our necessary drills underwater, we began to swim around the reef & enjoy the sights.

I had a better experience on the second dive. We entered the water using the "walk in" method. We descended using the rope again & practiced a few more drills on the ocean floor. After mastering those drills, in which I accidentally took a big swallow of sea water (GAG!), we explored the opposite side of the coral reef. It was during this dive, that we experienced some amazing encounters:

* We saw a large, silver tuna bottom feeding
* We touched a sticky sea anemone, with a clownfish swimming among its tentacles
* We petted a blow fish (or puffer fish) that our dive master held in his hand
* We swam by a spectacular looking lion fish, one of the most venomous fish in the region
* Sam held a jellyfish in the palm of his hand
* We saw numerous variations of sea worms
* And, of course, we saw tons of beautiful, brightly colored fish swimming all around us

We had a great afternoon of diving & I ended up thoroughly enjoying my time spent under the water. Tomorrow, we will dive a sunken barge & a sunken Spanish ship. We will go a little deeper & I truly hope I can regulate my ears quickly enough to be able to explore this amazing world in the ocean blue!


Lynn Leaming said...

Sounds so amazing and fascinating! I would love to do that someday :0

Tam, Matt, Cade said...

I'm so proud of you girl! You are doing things now only a few will ever do in their lifetime. I'm wishing we had taken our lessons when we first arrived, 3 years ago. Oh well! Have fun on the remaining dives.