Put me in the ocean and I turn into an instant idiot.
Now, to be fair, I have my limits. First, I respect the ecosystem and I make certain that I leave it in exactly the condition I saw it (no messing with the coral or taking souvenirs, etc.). Second, I’m not going to grab the tail of a great white shark just to see if I can. I’m not going to see how close I can get to a crocodile before he starts paying attention to me either. I won’t mess with rays other than to get reasonably close for a photo…
On the other hand, I’m a lot nuttier than most when I get in saltwater with fins, a mask and a snorkel (I don’t get into the scuba thing – too much effort and money for my tastes).
I’m only a few feet way from this nurse shark. Here’s a photo of that same shark from the surface:
I’d have gone down to touch it but it was just too deep for my delicate jet lagged sinuses to take. The shark above was about three feet shorter than the last one I rode about thirteen years ago…
On this trip I damn near ran into a six foot barracuda trying to swim after a full-grown turtle. Dude, funny thing about a barracuda… they watch you, like you’re lunch, when you get close.
Now contrary to my previous statement, what I won’t do, at least in the wild, is touch anything unless it’s a nurse shark. First, I’m stupid (a fella has to know his limitations). I don’t know the difference between something that seems innocuous but will teach me the meaning of the word pain. Take these urchins:
Apparently those pointy parts are bad.
I had no clue just how bad getting nicked by one of those would hurt (and thankfully I didn’t have to learn this firsthand, I took my brother-in-law’s advice and stayed away). The stuff with teeth, I get. Barracuda are cool to look at but I’ve heard they’re a little aggressive. Technically a little more than “a little”. Still, I won’t lie… when I saw the first one, my first ever in the wild, I was absolutely fascinated. “I wonder what it will do if I approach it”, I thought. Um, it won’t back down, that’s for sure. I ended up backing off after it slowly turned and eyed me like a piece of candy.
Then there were the sea turtles! In addition to the four I saw while snorkeling, we saw at least four more from the boat.
Our Saturday excursion was cancelled due to excessive chop (waves) so we decided to check out what we could from shore:
We ran into a proper school of fish but there wasn’t much else to look at. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. We scanned the entire swim area for anything we could find… It took well over an hour.
Every time I get near saltwater with some fins, a mask and a snorkel, I can’t help myself. I turn into an ignorant version of Jacques Cousteau. I am a saltwater addict and my name is Jim…