Every once in a while I still dream about the ocean. I dream about hovering in the still, peaceful blue, surrounded by reef with sharks and mantas gliding silently past me. The dreams are less frequent now than they were when I worked on, in and around the water. I love VT but I do get homesick for the ocean.
After my disappointing sunrise photo session, Mike and I ate breakfast and prepared for our first day in the water. We walked over to the dive center and, to our surprise, were loaded into a van that took us down the road to the traditional marina (aka one hundred charming, rickety, traditional outboard boats). We loaded up and puttered out across the little channel toward Menjangan Island. Luckily it was a beautiful day and the water was calm. We passed mangroves, skimmed over deep blue water and set our sights on the beautiful turquoise patches of reef in the distance. As we neared the island my heart sank. Our divemaster directed the captain toward a floating mat of garbage and smiled eagerly as he explained that this was one of his favorite dive sites. A wave of disgust washed over me as I looked around us at the floating refuse. The thought of snorkeling through garbage was repulsive. (Later in the day we would pass below a temple high up on the cliff above us, partially obstructed by a massive trash midden, spilling over the cliff directly into the water.)
I set up my camera and we bailed out over the side of the boat. I hit the water and pushed aside a chip bag and a travel shampoo bottle. Then I looked down and was astounded. We floated above a wall that dropped off into the dark blue depths. There were hundreds of reef fish, beautiful, bright corals, glowing sponges and clams. The ocean was alive! For the first time I felt happiness and hope. We drifted along the coast for a little over an hour. I had used up most of my camera battery by the time we met our boat for a brief rest and some lunch.
Our second snorkel was even better. Cuttlefish camouflaged in the shallows, huge schools of silver fish cruised the deeper areas of the wall, pursued by several large iridescent bluefin trevally, clownfish nestled in giant anemonies. We saw more diversity in that one day than we did the entire 3 years we lived in Hawaii. Somehow, amidst the garbage and pollution, the reef still flourished.
Can you spot the cuttlefish....
So, perhaps hope lies below the surface.
The question is, what can we do about it?