“Scuba diving is easy! It’s not rocket surgery!” Magnus, our Swedish scuba diving instructor told us with a grin. My fellow PADI classmates looked at one another before I sheepishly asked, “You mean rocket science?” “Ah! Yes! Scuba diving isn’t Rocket Science!”
Over the next few days, we learned the basics and continued on to do our Advanced PADI course. We finished our incredible journey with one last dive… at night! We watched nervously as the sun went down, carefully getting into our scuba diving gear and checking and rechecking our air supply. Magnus gave us one final dive brief, and then it was time.
Jumping off a boat into pitch black water, with nothing but a torch to light my way, was the most exhilarating experience of my life. Bubbles exploded around me as I dove in. I quickly made sure I had a tight grip on my flashlight and my dive buddy was in close proximity. As the bubbles slowly dissipated, my fears subsided and I regulated my breathing to a low and slow breath. A wave of calm washed over me, and I looked out at the dark shapes of reef before me. Life on the ocean floor was completely different at night; little crustaceans, octopi and sea turtles came alive after dark, along with something I had never heard of.
We drifted to the bottom, equalizing on our way down. As soon as we were all together, and the ocean sediment billowing up around us had cleared, Magnus motioned for us to turn off our lights. Heart racing, I switched the Off button and watched as everything went black around me. Thoughts of hungry sharks crossed my mind more than once.
Suddenly, tiny green phosphorescence were aglow in the black ocean surrounding us. Every movement stirred the glowing plankton in bright green swirls of light and bubbles. We moved our limbs to a silent rhythm and watched the phosphorescence burst into tiny stars right in front of our eyes. I felt like I was dancing in space, surrounded by a surreal galaxy found on the bottom of the ocean floor.
Eventually, we turned back on our lights and made our way around the reef. Magnus pointed out a hungry looking giant barracuda with a sharp, toothy smile. Using his flashlight, he blinded an unsuspecting fish swimming by. The giant barracuda darted forward and snapped its jaws on its prey. Without a hint of gratitude for his free meal, he swam away in search of his next meal.
All of a sudden a giant sea turtle poked his head out of the reef and swam out towards me. Turtles are curious creatures, and his big sleepy eyes stared straight into my goggles, attracted to his own reflection. We swam with him as he bobbed up and down the reef, looking for his breakfast. And then, just as quickly as he had appeared, the giant sea turtle swam up to the surface to get a gulp of fresh air and disappeared into the pitch black night water. Watching him swim away towards the moonlit surface of the vast open ocean, I found myself completely mesmerized. I tried to hold onto that moment, to let it sink inside me so that it would last forever frozen in time, and then felt it slowly slip away into memory.
We ascended back up towards the glowing lights of our boat at the surface. The choppy waves tried with all their might to pull us back under the night water’s embrace, but eventually we made it out and back safely onto our vessel. Looking out at the night sky, shivering with cold or delight- I don’t know which- I felt completely alive in that moment. It is the rush of adventure and pushing ourselves beyond our perceived limits that we strive for, and I experienced that that night. Past all fear and doubt, I found a sense of pure wonder and awe from the courage contained within me and the beautiful night ocean world.
About the Author: Lauren Rose Metzler aka The Wandering Orange, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and currently resides in Sydney, Australia where she works as a freelance illustrator. For over three years, she has been traveling and drawing comic books about her adventures abroad, including the UK, Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia.