World beneath our feet

Hannah - Chesterfield, Missouri
Entered on February 12, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: nature

I believe in oceans. I turn on my flashlight, put my regulator in my mouth, and descend sixty feet under the ocean. The ocean is pitch dark as I shine my light on the reef and its’ nighttime inhabitants. While scanning over the coral, I do a double take. The light is pointed at something no bigger than my fingernail; it is so small and yet so amazing. I grab my dad’s fin to get his attention. He spins around and swims towards my light as I point at the small spectacle. A translucent, dwarflike jellyfish is putting on a light show emulating a jukebox. It is hovering in the dark water, so picayune in the grand scheme of the ocean and yet absolutely astounding.

The ocean is all around and yet remains a completely different world. The most amazing creatures are found just 40 feet below the surface of the water. Everything from the ludicrous looking hammerhead, to the tiniest plankton make up the alien-like world of the ocean. The life underwater never ceases to amaze me, even after more than a hundred dives. I still love the sight of seeing a flying eagle ray soar towards me from out of the deep. Even the highly poisonous scorpion fish impresses me with its’ uncanny ability of blending perfectly into the rocks. When I look up, I see armies of fish of every type and size. I have seen my fair share of sharks and rays, but I cannot help but watch for several minutes as they go about their day. Hardly a feeling compares with lying still on the ocean floor and watching gobies pop out of their holes in the sand only to quickly dive back in at any sight of danger. I have seen millions of ocean creatures in my eight years of scuba diving, but I find something new to admire every time I go.

71% of the earth is covered by oceans, yet we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our own oceans. When most of us thing of the ocean, we think of what we see on the surface. A big, blue body of water that is fun to Jet Ski on makes the unmistakable undulating sound on the beach. We do not thing of what goes on underneath our Jet Skis. We do not realize that there is a whole different universe sitting right next to us. Scuba divers are the lucky few that get to observe this beauty. A world not only filled with different life; but a world free of honking cars, ringing cell phones, and loud arguments. Any world other than our metropolis seems incredibly foreign to most of us. This is why we build aquariums; we are fascinated by this separate life that lies so close to us and yet it remains unseen by most. The most calming place in the world is underneath the water, where there is nothing to distract us. We remember summers at the city pool when we were kids. Many of us would hold our breath and wave to each other underwater. All the screams of small children, splashing, and talking became dulled and far away fro those few moments. A tank filled with 3000 psi of oxygen provides an hour, not just a few moments, of calmness away from busy life.

The beautiful ocean world remains a ghost to most people. The natural beauty of a reef is so unique that it cannot be compared to anything. Looking at a two-foot long piece of soft coral and knowing that it took hundreds of years to get that way is astounding. It makes me appreciate what it takes for a small coral to turn into a huge reef, filled with rocks, sponges, and hundreds of species of aquatic creatures. Though there are aquariums and that simulate the oceanic environment, they can never truly match the sheer magnitude and life of the ocean. Nobody will deny that the ocean is an immensely powerful force that no human being can stop. Its’ waves can wipe out cities and have the capability to kill thousands. But it also houses small, delicate, beautiful mysteries such as a sea horse clinging onto a piece of coral or a clownfish hiding in its’ anemone home.

I continue on with my dive, leaving the small rainbow treasure behind. I see some of the usual nightlife animals. A few giant eyed squirrelfish shy away from our bright lights and a lobster backs into his rocky home. We only have about 1000 psi left in our tanks; it is time to go. Crabs scurry away as we take off our fins and climb up the alge ridden steps to the dock. The familiar sound of tanks banging together and pressurized air being let out of regulators fills the air. My dad and I talk excitedly about our tiny find. I talk about the jellyfish to the rest of the family, but only my dad and I would fully know the beauty of the petite creature. It was still floating out there somewhere, a microscopic blip living in the world beneath our feet. I believe in oceans.