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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What will I see today?


      What will I see today?
      Crossing a deep white sandy beach, I approach the surf. Today Half Moon bay is calm, gentle half meter waves roll onto shore. The water is crystal clear and warm, perhaps 82 degrees, I wade out a short distance to waist deep water, and then fall backwards until completely submerged. I spend a short time bobbing like some semi beached whale, buoyancy keeping my head above water as I slip on the flippers and then my mask and snorkel. Roll face down and gently stroke to deeper waters.

      What will I see today?
      Schools of small Sergeant fish, gold with dark vertical bands, common sea fans undulating with the current, stripped multicolored grunts, parrot fish of all sizes and colors. Brain coral, leaf coral, sea rods and corky sea fingers. I keep swimming, out pass the breakers.

      What will I see today?
      I reach the portion of half moon bay the locals call “The Deep”. It is 10 to 15 meters deep, mostly a sandy bottom with some coral outcroppings, and the occasional stand of sea grass. A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle calmly munching the sea grass. She will come ashore tonight, dig a deep pit and lay a 100 eggs. Then disappear back into the ocean deep. I cross “The Deep” and swim on.

      What will I see today?
      The water becomes chilled, I have entered the out flow of a fresh water cenote. There is now a thermocline, the cold clear fresh water rides above the heavy salt water. The cenote outflow is a thousand gallons a minute and a hundred meters wide, creating swirls and up swelling, then settling into a river within the sea. The fresh water is separated from the salt water and easily visible. I follow this river within the sea as it mixes and blends and all becomes one salty sea. Yellow stingrays and juvenile groupers use this area as their hunting ground. A school of young squid gather around me, are they curious or seeking shelter, are they investigating me or using me to hide from something bigger? I turn and head back toward shore.

      What will I see today?
      I cross a shallow 100 meter stretch, the water is about 1.5 meters deep. Staying flat to the surface I slowly kick forward, the bottom within arm’s reach. The rocks and coral and sea grass providing a nursery for a teeming fish hatchery. An ecosystem protecting the hundreds of thousands of fry. I see what looks like a cloud of milk, closer examination and it is fry, fry so small one individual is hard to see, thousands look like a milky cloud. Maybe one in a thousand will survive to become juvenile, maybe one in a hundred will survive to become an adult. So many are born, so few survive. On the surface minnows swim, schools that pass me for minutes. As I float motionless to drink in all this life, a pelican crashes into the water and fills her beak with minnows. Now, that I did not expect. I raise my head above water, pull back my mask and look skyward, the sea birds have arrived for the afternoon meal. The birds know I am not a threat, possibly I am herding the minnows? I swim on to my egress point.

      I reach the shoals, water just deep enough to float in. I remove my flippers first, I have always had more trouble getting out of my gear that getting into my gear. That was the final class, the last chapter in my diving/snorkeling hand book. Someday I intend to read it.
      I check my watch, 3 hours and 18 minutes. My wife is on shore with her cell phone, a picture of me will be on Facebook. A pot belly old man with water shriveled skin. Just great.

      She ask, “What did you see today?”