Sometimes I feel like a landlocked soul seeking adventure on the last and greatest frontier on Earth. Perhaps it is the leftover wanderlust from childhood – that long lost desire to grow up and be like Indiana Jones, Lewis & Clark, pirates, cowboys and the like.
I believe there are so many things here on earth, yet to be discovered – like the Leopard Flatworm. Perhaps these discoveries have already been discovered by others already. They have been printed in books and set on a shelf for us adventurers to find. What we haven’t discovered is out there waiting to find like Inca gold, the lost city of Atlantis, the cure for cancer or whatever it is we seek to dream.
Like most SCUBA divers out there, we start with a fascination of the big fish: sharks, whales, rays, dolphins, grouper and snapper. We can’t wait to see them, swim with them, and love them. Maybe we never really get over that awe, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.
But what about the small things?
Little fish and creatures dot the reefs and yet most divers and snorkelers don’t give them a second look. But then, oddities like the Leopard Flatworm pop out on occasion and all of a sudden you may be struck with the realization that there’s just so much out there left undiscovered. If it weren’t for macro photography and the mouth-full-of-eggs Yellowhead Jawfish money shots on the cover of magazines, perhaps we’d never have interest or appreciation for anything smaller than our pet rock.
There I was, swimming along, and nearly ran into a Leopard Flatform. It was floating up right in front of me at 52 feet on a bright sunny day. An entire group of divers swam right past it, completely unnoticed. But it found me and I discovered it! And, I had a video camera. Perfect.
Yes, the Leopard Flatworm had already been identified by others smarter than I. No, I didn’t name it. I didn’t discover a new species. But I found THIS one, in a 2,753,000 sq km sea. Never before had I seen something like it. And it was a great reminder to seek out and enjoy the little things against a backdrop of a mighty big world. I experienced a moment to enjoy the art of discovery, to celebrate the resurgence of that childhood wanderlust.