Safety stops. We all have to take them. We spend our obligatory 3 minutes at 15 feet for recreational diving and whether you are drift diving, fighting for your depth against the swells and jellyfish, or shore diving and watching your PSI diminish, there’s always something great to see.
Shore diving in low or no current has become one of my favorite pastimes. That long, slow swim towards shore always offers time to relax and take in all the sights and sounds of the ocean. Then, that moment comes. A moment of sheer bliss as you enter a warm sunny thermocline, which envelopes your body like a warm blanket. Comfortable, warm, perfect. With shore diving, there is no boat waiting for you to board, no tourists wishing you’d burn through your last bit of PSI so they can get to lunch, no schedule to keep, and so much to see. I watch fish dance in slow motion, schools moving in unison, independent fish sporting their own styles, and surge keeping time like a distance waltz.
I like to spend time looking for seahorses, nudebranchs and other small creatures that hang out among the shallow sea fans and coral heads. The Brown Chromis seemed to be quite prevalent on most of my dives off the coast of Bonaire, and especially on this dive. I love to see abundant sea life swimming around in a breathtaking environment – this is why I dive. There are multiple ecosystems on the reef – fish supporting corals, corals supporting fish, which are absolutely stunning with the colors and textures as sun rays dance across the ocean floor. It’s a dream world and film hardly captures the feeling of being here, breathing in a slow breath and being consumed by your surroundings.
I noticed the Brown Chromis on every dive, they seem to be everywhere, dancing just above the reef. But here, taking time with my camera and looking for interesting things, I noticed the group flinching as the moved in unison with every minor movement I made. Here I was, nearly motionless in the shallows, but the fish reacted with my movements. Subtle moves bowed the group in, harsher movements made the group dart so perfectly together. Like a dance, we moved together, hovering above the reef like floating on a cloud. I switched from macro photography to video mode to capture the delight of this experience. My dive buddy volunteered to direct the Brown Chromis ballet and create his own fish choreography. Here we were, enjoying a safety stop and dancing with fish.
It’s hard to believe the ocean is suffering in other parts of the world. To see this protected park, teeming with life and color, I wonder why there are not more parks available in this vast world for ecotourism such as diving and snorkeling. Clearly, there is opportunity for a healthy environment full of long-growth corals, sponges and a balanced ecosystem. Perhaps the world needs more awareness of the changes beneath the surface of our oceans to help protect it, like it is protected here. Or maybe, the world just needs a few more divers.
Yes. Definitely more divers.