Submerge!

By Al Hornsby

Since my first editorial, back in May, when I wrote about following the dream to be involved in diving, Ive received dozens of letters from readers acknowledging theyve had a similar dream. Many have asked for advice about how best to follow through. Others have shared their special moments, times when the incredible magic diving can be has left an indelible, unforgettable mark on their lives and emotions.

Some of us have been lucky enough to have experienced enough of those moments that we finally said, Thats it. There simply isnt anything else this enjoyable and meaningful;Im going to find a way to do it.

However, there are also people who never experience the emotions and sensations that make diving so incredible. Im convinced that some of those who miss out on the peak experiences do so because they havent learned how to find them.

Let me explain. On your dive trips, have you noticed that there seems to always be someone who has all the luck? Someone who always seems to have the upclose encounter with the big animals or finds the rare critters? Doesnt this person always seem just a little more excited and having a better time than anyone else?

Well, there really are people like that. By now, Im completely comfortable with the fact that I am one (thank goodness!). There are so many examples I can remember. Like the day I got the only close shot of the Manta we saw feeding on the surface or the night my buddy and I got the (previously undocumented, as best we have been able to determine) shots of the fish in the jellyfish or the night I found the reclusive Crocodile Snake Eel and was the only photographer on the boat to get a picture of it.

Is it luck? Maybe. But, theres also something more. While everyone else was chasing the Manta, I noticed it was making a big circle. I swam to where we would intersect, waited for the right moment and did a freedive so I wouldnt be on the surface where the Mantas pursuers were. Sure enough, she swam right to me; her curiosity requiring her to determine what I might be.

The fish in the jellyfish;a one and a half inch long fish hiding inside the bell of a one inch jellyfish, has its own story. While everyone else was enjoying after-dinner drinks on our boat in the Indian Ocean, my buddy and I made a dive, knowing we would find an assortment of planktonic animals and their tiny predators. Sure enough, there were tiny octopi, embryonic lobsters, boxfish and many others;including our rare jelly.

The Crocodile Snake Eel? The other divers didnt bother diving on the sand plain;nothing there. (Of course, lots of unusual creatures, such as the eel, live in the sand and thus, are seldom seen.)

Was I having more fun on these dives than the others? You can bet I was.

There are several common threads in stories like these. They include knowing what marine life might be found where and being willing to try the unusual in order to be rewarded by the unusual. They also include slowing down, developing a patient, non-threatening, unawkward style in the water so you dont scare the animals off before they have the chance to swim over to see you.

In short, the more you submerge yourself into this wonderful sport of ours, the more youll get back out of it. (You can take that as a guarantee.)