Fear & Loving: Where Sea Level Meets the Deep – a literary blogstory – PART TWO

Dive Log 22 & 23: This Sea Turtle Reminded Me of Bullwinkle, That Snowflake Moray Eel Did Not Bite Young Dude’s Face, and Erik’s Camera is an Underwater Hubble Telescope

Catacomb Reef and Boynton Comb Reef
off Boynton Beach, FL
23 July 2016

Scuba dive: max depths 70′ and 64′

Don’t know why this sea turtle reminded me of Bullwinkle when I ain’t thought of Bullwinkle since what the 80s? © J. Manos

Don’t know why this sea turtle reminded me of Bullwinkle when I haven’t thought of Bullwinkle since what the 80s? © J. Manos

How Much Color We Don’t See!

I have a question: Why do these sea creatures, these corals, sponges, fish, crustaceans, mollusks etc., create so much explosive color down in the depths where there is little and eventually no sunlight?

Beyond 10 feet underwater, our human eyes start to lose ability to see colors, with red going first, followed by orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and at last violet.

Fish inside giant barrel sponge. © Erik Denson/Founder of DiVERSe Orlando

Fish inside giant barrel sponge. © Erik Denson/Founder of DiVERSe Orlando

What is it that they see? What are they expressing, and to whom? Clearly not to us!

And they have been doing this for millions and millions of years, long before we were around.

At depth of about 60 feet, for some reason we could still see the bright yellow of this juvenile Spanish hogfish. They turn red when they get older, though to our eyes they would look silver at that depth. That band of silver-gray across the top of his body is likely red in sunlight. © J. Manos

At depth of about 60 feet, for some reason we could still see the bright yellow of this juvenile Spanish hogfish. They turn red when they get older, though to our eyes they would look silver at that depth. That band of silver-gray across the top of his body is likely red in sunlight. © J. Manos

But when a photographer uses a light or flash that has the characteristics of the sun, the real colors are revealed, and they are extraordinary. Why?

Underwater reefs remind me of far-flung galaxies photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

© NASA Hubble Space Telescope

© NASA Hubble Space Telescope

Spiny lobster and wife chilling at home. © Erik Denson/DIVERSe Orlando

Spiny lobster and wife chilling at home. © Erik Denson/DIVERSe Orlando

Giant anemone. © Erik Denson. Erik is the Electrical Chief Engineer at the Kennedy Space Center. He is also founder of the black dive club DIVERSe Orlando.

Giant anemone. © Erik Denson. Erik is the Electrical Chief Engineer at the Kennedy Space Center. He is also founder of the black dive club DIVERSe Orlando.

*  *  *

With my scuba training review course finished, I finally felt up to speed to go on a 2 tank boat dive with DIVERSe Orlando.

I stepped off the boat holding the dive flag the boat’s dive master had handed me. I was to hand it to Aubra once in the water.

Somebody previous had not properly attached the coiled yellow rope and it came off as I hit. I watched sickened at the sight of it sinking down into the green water below.

Damnit even when you try so hard to not cause any harm, shit happens.

Now that rope could be a hazard to marine life down there for a long time unless some other diver eventually sees it and brings it back up.

I was pissed but had to pay attention because the whole crew was already descending to 70 feet.

Descending to 70’ feet on the Catacomb Reef. © J. Manos

Descending to 70’ feet on the Catacomb Reef. © J. Manos

© GPRC

© GPRC

Catacomb Reef at the bottom sprawled outward, every inch filled with life and color.

I had forgotten the red filter for my GoPro. Everything I filmed would be greenish.

I leveled out, hurriedly adjusting my buoyancy so I did not touch the reef at all.

One of my fins did kick up some sediment. Not good. I moved upward to level out horizontally.

My fins accidentally touched the reef and kicked up sediment. I will do whatever it takes to not let my fins touch the reef again. © J. Manos

My fins accidentally touched the reef and kicked up sediment. I will do whatever it takes to not let my fins touch a reef again. © J. Manos

A main rule of diving is to master your buoyancy and never touch the reef or any marine life.

No bleaching was seen.

Out in Australia, 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has bleached out. A third of it has died completely.

It’s likely only a matter of time before our reefs are hit severely too.

Considering this, the rough talking dive master lady on the boat who sounded like cigarettes said: “We’re on the precipice.” She wasn’t talking about underwater topography.

As I got my buoyancy under control and we began swimming a few feet above this underwater civilization, the last of my surface-world thoughts came:

Diving at the end of the world…

Later, back on board, a diver from another group said a 7 foot hammerhead shark rushed him. Then swerved away at the last minute.

I grinned and didn’t say a word, other than: You know they’re endangered around the world, right?

Erik taking a pic of his wife Aubra. They’re the founders of the black dive club in Orlando. They love each other, they love the ocean, and they love people. © J. Manos

Erik taking a pic of his wife Aubra. They’re the founders of the black dive club in Orlando. They love each other, they love the ocean, and they love people. © J. Manos

Frame-23-07-2016-07-16-44

Ron taking pics of a spiny lobster and his wife. This is what a lobster looks like at home chilling, listening to music and whatnot, before Red Lobster (or some consumptive diver) comes and snatches him away.

Ron taking a pic of a spiny lobster couple. © J. Manos

Spiny lobster and wife, at Boynton Cove Reef. © Erik Denson

Spiny lobster and wife, at Boynton Cove Reef. This is what lobsters look like when they’re at home chilling, listening to music and whatnot, before Red Lobster (or some consumptive diver) comes and snatches them away. © Erik Denson

Young Dude Standing on Head by Snowflake Moray Eel. © J. Manos

Young Dude Standing on Head by Snowflake Moray Eel. © J. Manos

Caption: Snowflake moray eel getting his headshots done. © J. Manos

Caption: Snowflake moray eel getting his headshots done. © J. Manos

Snowflake moray eel, photographed by Erik Denson.

Snowflake moray eel, photographed by Erik Denson.

Snowflake moray eel, photographed by Erik Denson.

Snowflake moray eel, photographed by Erik Denson. Look how every inch of the water is filled with abundance and diversity.


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