I went diving with a 142 year old green turtle named Bryan tonight.
We slipped under the sparkling layer that separates gravity and 21 percent oxygen from the mysterious underwater world. It’s like meditation, with the only sound the sweeping vacuum of your lungs, breath and bubbles. And the fish crunching chunks off the coral. And the squeaking of your ears, filling with water all warm and inviting. And the clinking of your air tank, an existential reminder that you are foreign here. In the day, the sun leaches through the surface with shoots of light. Coral sways and hair swills, clams tremor and eels growl. The fish come in every flavour, colour and shape. Tiny electric blue schools dart nervously from coral base to base, and extroverted rainbow individuals sniff around with curiosity. In the torchlight of the night dive, sharks make themselves known. The current combs the reef, moving the ecosystem as one, driving the aquatic heartbeat. While drinking tea and dancing on deck to the sway of the waves, I realised that my only stress in life is whether to get qualified to dive to 30m rather than 18m. On the back of the staff shirts it reads ‘going down is a way of life’. I’m on a Pro Dive five day learn to dive course off the coast of Cairns on the Outer Great Barrier Reef, the largest living thing on earth.
Here’s a little movie clip from the trip; https://www.facebook.com/jessica.thomas.140193/posts/10206343811582070
I booked in a week before the course and turned up to a classroom full of internationals, and a trio of Melbournites. I have done a few experience dives in my life and just want that freedom of diving solo. The first two days were spent in the training centre in Cairns learning about the gear and the emergency procedures. Half of this time was spent in their four metre deep pool practising what we were taught. By the end of the intensive training, my mind was full of information about decompression sickness, emergency weight drops, what to do when you lose your buddy and your mask comes off and you get attacked by a shark. We were whisked to a boat on the esplanade and motored sixty nautical miles into the big blue. A lot of certified divers have joined us for the liveaboard boat trip, but it doesn’t feel crowded at all. The staff are from exotic locations around the world, and have serious diving experience. Jenny the French Canadian cook has filled our bellies with delicious fresh food. My instructor is Tim, a 28 year old Canadian engineer who happens to have a prosthetic leg. He is the best teacher we could ever hope for, and has us in stitches every day. Yesterday he took a mini Mars Bar down a few metres and convinced us it was a full sized one that had been decompressed by the pressure. After our four training dives, we were given the PADI open water diving certificate and were sent off to find our own fish for five dives and try not to run out of air in the process. We sleep early and deep and wake before the sun to jump back in. It’s been a surreal experience, and I want all of my friends to do it so we can have dive holidays off shipwrecks in the Bahamas together 🤗