My First Scuba Dive is intended to be a series of posts from guest writers and Master Divers folk too where they can share the wonder of their first dive. If you have a story to share please read the details at the bottom and you too could be featured! This first one comes from Jess Spate.
When I first dived in the sea at age 14, I was already a keen snorkeller. My father and older brother dived and I was naturally excited about joining them. I was a strong swimmer and had dived in a swimming pool for practice, but on the other hand, that water looked deep, dark, and choppy. Did those guys really expect me to jump into it from the top of the old loading gantry?
It turns out they didn’t, which was a relief. I slithered none-too-gracefully off the rocks into the water and got myself together, wondering what was down there. I’d be lying if I said there was no fear.
The first thing that struck me about being under the sea wasn’t a cloud of gorgeous fish and in those temperate waters it certainly wasn’t a brightly colored tropical reef. It was the silvery surface, moving and rolling like liquid mercury above me. I looked up and felt the utter strangeness of a different world. From that moment I was in love with diving.
Bawley Point has steep rocky walls and a sandy bottom. Two large stingrays haunt the waters below the old gantry, and being experienced campaigners they associate divers more with fishy treats than danger. When the biggest (a battered, tailless giant known locally as Stumpy) cruised gracefully overhead the shadow seemed to cover an impossibly large area. To this day I’d rather dive with rays than almost any other marine wildlife.
There were other critters, of course. On that dive even the ugliest rock cod was thrilling, and then there were the colonies of urchins, scuttling crabs, and best of all, a handful of neon visitors from the warm waters off Queensland. Every summer and autumn tropical fish get washed down to the chilly south by the East Australian Current, although I didn’t know that at the time.
On that first dive I learned a little about how to move around underwater. I learned about the gardens of the common southern octopus and how still the bottom can be even with a good swell up above. I learned that diving was not at all like snorkelling, where what you can see is limited by your lung capacity. It was like the difference between seeing a landscape from the window of a passing car and being able to actually get out and have a walk around.
I haven’t been back to Bawley Point for a few years now- life has taken me to Europe, a long way from my old playground- but I really hope that Stumpy is still there showing the beginner divers just how incredible the underwater world can be.
Jess Spate writes for Mozaik Underwater Cameras, an online store selling camera and housing products for divers.
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