My version of heaven: 80’ below the surface of the ocean. For those of you who have never scuba dived before, I hope you’ll give it a try after reading this blog because it’s a wonderful underwater world that’s just waiting to be discovered. First of all, I was surprised by how incredibly warm the ocean is even though it’s just springtime in the Bahamas. I wore a “shortie” wet suit at the encouragement of the dive staff but I probably could have managed without one. The water was calm and at least 70 degrees even at 80’ under. But it’s the sea life that is so spectacular. Yellow tail snappers, Parrot fish, Angel fish, Trumpet fish, Spotted Moray Eel, Grouper, Sting Rays, and, of course, Nurse Sharks (absolutely harmless just curious about the latest visitors to their reef). But unfortunately there was one other fish that is NOT welcome – the Lionfish. Originally Lionfish were only found in the Indo-Pacific but they are rapidly invading the waters of the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. Although incredibly beautiful, lionfish are covered in venomous spines and they are veracious and effective predators. Due to their population explosion and aggressive behaviour, lionfish have the potential to become the most disastrous marine invasion in history by drastically reducing the abundance of coral reef fishes and leaving behind devastated ecosystems. 4 years ago, I saw my first lionfish and was mesmerized by its beauty. Today they were everywhere. In fact, they have become such a huge problem that the Bahamas has called it “open season” on them. In other words, people are encouraged to spearfish them and then take them home for dinner. Apparently the filets are a delicate white, flaky meat but make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing clean the fish because one prick from their venomous spines and you’re going to develop a raging fever that will make the common flu feel desirable! You’re probably wondering how the above resembles heaven. I can’t explain how at peace I am when diving. Of course, you’re weightless underwater but there’s something else that creates the feeling of being completely in balance. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that for the 30 minutes when I’m at the ocean’s bottom, I completely forget about life on land. I’m not thinking about my business, what to make for dinner, or anything else when I’m diving. It’s just my fishy friends and me. And even though 30 minutes is short, the feeling lingers … just like a good massage. What are your favourite ways to recharge and rejuvenate your soul? Have I planted any initial seeds of interest in you to try diving? If yes, you won’t regret it!
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