A month ago today, I embarked on a journey I signed myself up for with one aim and that is to start and broaden my knowledge about marine conservation. Because I was, and still am, sure that it is one of the paths I want to take.
Coming to Coral Cay, I only knew very little about diving. First is that it is expensive and another is that it can get dangerous. And speaking of danger came COVID-19 that halted our scubadiving. So, I learned how to duck dive. It was my second try learning it since the first time I did I had trouble equalizing. But once I got the hang of it it became hard to stop. There really is just something about being able to hold your breath for a long time under water without anything heavy attached to you.
Everything went by either so fast or so slow. My third day in the site I already became a certified Open Water Diver. Then a day later I was a certified Advanced Open Water Diver. Thanks to Viki, Coral Cay’s scuba instructor, for being so understanding and patient with me. Now, I will always remember to be a responsible diver.
Photos below are candid shots from Chess, Jalah, and Nikhe. See you, babes! (See Chalet Girl)
After I learned about the types of fishes, inverts, and substrates (big thanks to Beth) present down the reef, I could not afford to ignore them anymore. My head would just automatically try to identify which is which. I did not always get them right, of course, since I learn slow/ly. There even were times when I would just be so confused by two things that look so identical but are really not. Whenever this happens I tell myself that what matters most is that I try. After all, magic happens in the moment you attempt.
Photos below are the ones I took from Rachel’s camera. Thank you, Rachel, for being so generous and welcoming. I have learned so much from you and your fun facts. See you when I see you!
Each time I learned something new about the reef and its inhabitants, each dive would mean a different experience. It was exciting to swim with beautiful creatures that bite or get triggered or are toxic. It was fun wafting substrates to determine whether they were corallimorphs or zoanthids. The pointies, validations, and practice and actual surveys meant the most to me. I branded them in my head as signs that I actually am getting somewhere, that I am learning and passing. I failed a couple times but recovered right after. Aside from all the science technicalities, I also learned perseverance. It was what got me through my first few trials and down days in the site. And it is what is reminding me now to keep going.
My favorite days were the days when I was just learning — not exclusively about the marine life but of different cultures and beliefs from different corners of the world represented by one body or two. Dinners were one of the best parts of this journey too. Not only because the food is good (shoutout to Nang Pedang and everyone who tried to cook!) but because of the company and conversations, the “Creature of the Day” ritual and the passing of the salt from one side to the other.
Anyway, this post is mainly to thank Coral Cay Conservation for having given me this beautiful opportunity. I have learned so many things during my 4-week stay. And I do not exactly know how to express my gratitude towards you for having shown me such beauty — in learning and in trying. It definitely is a whole different world down there. And I promise you that this is only the start of my journey.
I will see you in the future because we will have a future and so will the reefs!