“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.”
“How am I going to breathe? They seem to have some sort of a different equipment. Would I panic? Will my ears hurt due to the water pressure at the depth?”, I nervously thought to myself as I boarded the auto-rickshaw to the dive site. I knew how to swim and I’m pretty sure a couple of my friends who didn’t know how to had a lot more on their minds.
However, the excitement of diving to the depths overtook the nervousness. “What’s it gonna be like? Blowing bubbles as i swim the depths like in the movies? Am i gonna get to see colorful fishes and corals? Will i get to see a turtle? This is going to be awesome”. I was going to get the answers to all my questions in a few minutes.
It was a long day at DIVEIndia and we had to wait for quite some time as the instructors were busy in other dives. When finally we had enough instructors to take us together, we got our diving suits and gear and got into the auto-rickshaws for a short ride to Beach No. 2, off the coast of which, lay the dive site. The beach itself was a sight to behold – white sand, turquoise water and mangrove roots.
We got into the shallow waters where we met our instructors. I had Bibin as my instructor. We had a 15 min training session before the actual dive and Bibin taught me how to breathe using the gear. It was hard to breathe with only the mouth and took a few tries till i got it right. I then was acquainted about the signals underwater to indicate ‘Okay’ , ‘Not Okay’ , ‘Need to move up’, ‘Move down’ etc and what to do if my ears felt blocked. We did a trial underwater and now I was confident to invade the coral reefs.
We went a little further from the shallows and Bibin just flipped me down. I was awestruck with the sight. The sea floor was filled with corals of different shapes and sizes and colors. Hundreds of fish which probably nest in the reefs swimming around. I was overwhelmed by the view and the excitement and took a while for it to sink in. Bibin signaled to me if I wanted to dive deeper to have a closer look and I signaled back in affirmation. As we dived deeper, I felt the pressure around my ears increase. I tried to release the pressure as I was told in the training session and I felt my ears pop.
With the pressure released, I now felt one with sea. I could just hear the bubbles i blew out. I reached the sea bed and felt the sand and the dead corals lying there. The experience of being down there on the ocean floor and just listening to your own breathing – it is strangely soothing and you feel no stress, tension or burdens whatsoever. I felt free. I believe this is what a slice of actual freedom feels like. It felt like time stood still and every minute of this submerged experience felt like an eternity of peace.
The marine life consisted of variety of colorful fishes which included Angelfish, Tangs, sea anemones , sea cucumbers and yes, Clownfish(My Nemo). Bibin took me down to the coral reef where I had a close up view at the nests of some of the fishes. I refrained from touching the live corals as I was advised in the training session that the corals die by merely touching them whereas it takes several hundred years to form. I got a chance to touch and feel a couple of dead ones before I came back up to the surface feeling humbled and with lots of awe and respect for the ocean. I didn’t get to see a turtle though.
Scuba diving is an extremely satisfying activity to feel at peace and what better place for the first dive than in the clear tropical waters of the Andaman Reef. The beautiful corals and colorful fish make the surreal experience visually stimulating as well. It was an experience like never before and I recommend that everyone do try it in the Andaman’s.