Even better than I hoped: the story of a first dive

Guest blog by Andaya V, an adventurous grade 6 student

It all began one day in the Philippines with excitement in the air.  Filipino friends (another Project Seahorse family) were coming to stay with us in a tiny local beach cottage resort called Polaris. The staff were kind and friendly. The resort was beautiful, peaceful and entertaining. There was a huge pool, a chess board, a treehouse and a pool (billiards) table. Suddenly a familiar voice called our name. Oh! Our friends had suddenly arrived! We greeted them with joyful smiles. Then we commanded them to run into the pool and we started to play. There were five kids: Martine, Maxine and Julian plus my brother and me.

After a while I reminded my mother about “the surprise” and she said she would talk about that with their mother. Later they told us to gather around the edge of the pool. “I’m going to give you some… scuba lessons” offered my mother. And boy did we go in to squeals! So we watched a video on “How to scuba dive”.  The video told us about how you have to clean all of your gear in fresh water and you can have different colour tanks and you’ll breath through a Regulator and you have to clean all of your gear and it’s like breathing under water. A long hour later (or at least it felt like it) we finished the video. 

All photos by Amanda Vincent

After lunch, thrill was creeping closer... Our instructor for the day told us about the equipment and how to put it on. I couldn’t get over the number of things to put together. This is the oxygen tank - it gives you oxygen to breath, this is the B.C.D (buoyancy control device) and these are the regulators and these are… OK, you get the point.  But again, you are trying to breath under water (which is pretty tricky!).

To the water! First, the pool. We skipped along (maybe not the people carrying the tanks) anyway, we skipped along to the pool and plunged in. Then I put on the B.C.D. and shoved the regulator in my mouth and went below the surface. I was actually breathing underwater! Now we had to complete a test (sort-of)! My first test was to be able to clean out my mask underwater (without going to the surface). The instructor said to pinch the top to let water in, swirl it around so it’s all cleaned out, then blow bubbles out of my nose. It looked easy enough so I tried. Oops... I let in too much water. The rest mostly went smoothly. After a bit more training in the pool we were sort-of ready to face the vast ocean. 

Now I was getting giddy. “Are we going yet? Are we going yet?” I sang to myself with glee. After a while of figuring out what to do and where to go, we galloped (or tried to) to the small blue and white dive boat. We sped away to the dive spot. Then our instructor told us how to enter the water. You have to know how to do this he said while he backwards rolled in. it looked like so much fun I decided to volunteer quickly. Wow, that really WAS fun! 

After everyone was in, we plunged under - and opened a door to a whole new world, that of a coral reef ! You could actually inspect a fish closely and the words “underwater paradise” would not explain it! If you know the game/app called “Tap tap fish”, it looked just like that. Clown fish staring at you, wondering what world you came from (and if you wiggled your fingers out in front of them they would come out of their anemone to inspect) and slender pipefish wishing they weren’t being watched. We saw butterfly fish that were triangle shaped. And another funky chunky fish that was a square with rounded edges. There were lots of shoals of sapphire blue bobbing around the reef. In the seagrass there were these sea stars called “chocolate chip sea star” which made my tummy hungry. The corals didn’t move much, being stuck wherever they had landed. 

When you sink lower in the water it gets a little colder each metre. Until a gush of warm water interrupts the cold water. Then suddenly… a noise, a faint noise. It almost sounded like corals tap dancing! Snappity snap snap snappity snap snap. An itty bitty coral polyp was eating with arm shaped things - grabbing food out of the water. Ah, so cute.

After about half-an-hour, we rose to the surface to get my little brother. He entered with a cannon ball effect, then we descended again.  I was pretty impressed with how well an eight-year old could handle an arrival at Neptune’s kingdom. After about another half hour – which felt like five minutes – we had to leave the sea because the sun was setting.  I lingered to be the last out because it was so wonderful that I couldn’t say good-bye. Then the roaring of the motor rages into a fury and we set off home, full of joy. 

The sunset was picture perfect and the breeze was warm and all was happy until my mother interrupted the impressive scene, warning us that “You are not a diver yet.  You may have done a discovery dive but you are not yet a diver .” But I still call that diving! At dinner we talked about what we saw and what it felt like under water. We all agreed it was magical and we were already plotting how to do more.  But not tomorrow… we can’t dive or sleep or even chillax (chill out - relax) coz we are going back to China at 3:00 am.