The boat sways in the gentle waves where the Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico meet. She steadies herself on the platform, suited up. The boat is noisy with fellow divers, waves hitting the boat, and the sound of birds flying overhead.
Looking across the turquoise and blue waters, she takes a final fresh breath of air before placing her regulator in, holding it to her face, and taking a giant stride off the back of the boat. The water splashes around and she begins to descend. The sounds from above are muffled, and slowly dissipate as she slips away from the boat towards the reef ahead. Quiet takes over as the only sounds come from her regulator.
She checks every so often on her dive partner who isn’t too far behind as they make their way around the reef. She slows her pace and pauses to watch soft coral swaying in the gentle current. The vibrant purple sea fan contrasts against the hard coral surface behind. Small colorful reef fish hide in the valleys and recesses in the rocks.
She continues on, looking for other sites to see. In the openness of the waters a school of young yellow tail snapper swim alongside her. She is amazed as they dart by her, cutting through the water like it were air. Not far behind trails a barracuda, possibly looking for a little lunch.
She returns her focus to the reef. Her partner comes up alongside and signals to her – Look, Eel . She looks in the direction and finds a vibrant green moray wrapped around an outcropping, his head floating in a small opening looking out towards the waters. The eel tucks back into his groove and waits as they float by.
The reef is covered in colorful corals, from bottle brush, feather and Christmas Tree, to plate, brain and moon coral. More small reef fish and shrimp play among the coral, darting in and out. She pauses and breathes a few moments, watching them with delight.
Her partner taps her on the shoulder. Time to ascend and return to the real world. Slowly they make their way back to the boat and return to their normal human, land-based lives.
This is based on a dive at the race track reef near John Pennekamp Coral Reef state park in the Florida Keys. It’s a place I like to go to in my mind when I need a quick escape from the everyday.