(Photo by Miriam Espacio from Pexels)
By our Traveling Tarpon, Maya Armstrong
Today, we are taking a break from our formal blog and sharing personal experiences. We all hear alot about ‘diving’ but what is the ‘experience’ really like? What makes it fun? I wanted to share why I love SCUBA diving and some of my favorite recent memories.
Creatures of the Deep
It was a 14 hour plane ride in the biggest, most cramped plane they had. But every second was worth it. I went to the Philippines. Now this is not a story about my favorite dive just because it was ‘The Philippines’; it was my favorite dive because of all of the cool creatures I saw and found. Our Dive Master was somewhat new and did not have a well-trained eye. So naturally I turned this into a competition. Granted it was all in my head but there were 2 categories, who found the most and who found the coolest animals. This particular dive was on a reef wall. It was overflowing with amazing life and colors – simply breathtaking. I felt surrounded by beauty and small at the same time. There is all this space yet I also realized I am one of the few that has the opportunity to experience this place. Throughout the trip I was known as the one to find the eels, I could find about 5 every dive. My dad was my dive buddy and he only cared for macro stuff so I knew what he was looking for and I had experience looking for eels. I was on a roll with all the cool animals I was finding and felt special with every new thing I saw. However on this particular reef wall dive I felt the most accomplished I ever have on a dive. I found 3 octopi on a single dive. I repeat 3 octopi; one of the most elusive creatures to find. All 3 were Day Octopi and could change color and texture making them even harder to spot. I found them, not my highly experienced Dad, not the Dive Master whose job it was to find us cool animals. No I found them and that was highly rewarding and I felt very accomplished. I was surprised and in shock and awe. I rode that high of finding elusive creatures the rest of that day. It wasn’t the location so much as the experience and seeing animals you don’t normally see on a day dive. This turned out to be one of my most rewarding dives.
Ginnie Springs is a common popular spring destination in Florida. It is also the only place you can do a galaxy dive. Now this was at the beginning of my diving career and I was up for anything and curious beyond words. When someone mentioned night dive I was already on board. But I was confused because they called it a galaxy dive. I had no clue what I signed up for but I knew it was going to be fun. And it was. The Dive Buddy I went on the trip with cut up glow sticks into a bag. Okay, strange. Something about releasing them into the water, wasn’t entirely sure why but hey – we were going night diving I wasn’t about to ask too many questions. We suited up and started the dive – entering into ‘The Ballroom’. I have a flashlight, as required for night dives, and was playing with all the air bubbles on top of the ceiling. At the same time, I was watching the light reflect and bend and bounce around the room. I thought it was the coolest thing. Little did I know it was about to get more interesting. We swam to the bottom of the ballroom right in front of the grate. Then everyone turned off their lights. Very strange but I went with it. All I knew was something was about to happen. You could still see up and out from the moon coming in through the entrance to the ballroom but not enough to actually light up the space. Then we all floated there and it was almost complete darkness where you could only notice everyone’s breathing. I kept looking to my dive buddy to see what was going on and how I should react. Everyone was waiting and waiting looking back towards our dive buddy at the grate watching. I was starting to get bored floating in the dark and cold with nothing to see or do. The next thing I know our dive buddy releases the glow sticks he had cut up earlier. I could feel my breath stop! Now, there is color swirling all around following the flow of the water. It starts off slow with little circles of green coming towards me then the whole ballroom is filled with flowing splatter paint. There are orbs of color all around dancing and playing in the current from the flowing underground spring water. While we were previously in complete darkness – now all you could see are colored stars floating around. I got this feeling of smallness. I felt as though I was actually in a galaxy. This was one of those dives that no words can fully capture the experience. And one that should be on every diver’s bucket list. It left me breathless – and my eyes have been fully opened.
Every diver has their own experiences and favorite dives. Everyone has their stories, especially divers. We love to talk and share. I wanted to take some time from the normal format to share some of my own personal stories.
Do you have places you want to visit? Your local dive shop may be able to set up a trip. You never know what you will experience or what stories will come back with you. Overall scuba diving is a very rewarding hobby that is very relaxing and gratifying. Any dive is a good dive if you go with the right people. Diving is about community and family you will miss whenever you aren’t diving. Thank you for reading some of my stories, now go make your own!
Have you had a dive that ‘took your breath away’? Please reply to our Blog with your own story. We will pick out the best and draw a winner for a $100 gift certificate for one of our international scuba diving trips so that you can tell some more great stories of your own.