Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life Under the Sea

This post is created by Tasha Haight.

Life Under the Sea
by Tasha Haight
            It was our second to last stop on our journey. The loneliness of being a foreigner without friends accompanying me was starting to sink in; I missed my best friend. Being out of the country I call home, the only way I could reconnect with those back in the States was online, and that was a rare opportunity to come by, given our busy schedule. So, I started to write in the "Notes" app of my iPhone everything I would want to tell people when I returned to America.
            Little did I know I would write several pages on one adventure alone.
Whale Rib
(Picture from Google Images)
            Back in 5th grade, a marine biologist came to our school for career day. I walked into the classroom she was located in hoping she would be just as interesting as the cosmetologist, the one that told me I had red roots in my hair, that I had just come from.  Stepping into a classroom that's like any other, average, something that seemed out of place immediately caught my eye: A bone. Not just any bone, a giant whale rib was sitting upright on the floor against the poster-covered wall. Bones usually gross me out; blood I can't handle. But something about this bone intrigued me. Maybe it was the size, easily as tall as the top of the top cabinet. Or maybe it was simply the fact that that bone had come from a whale, a wondrous creature of the majestic sea.
            Sometime between then and now, reality made me realize that if I want everything I want from life (a maid, a cook, a dog, and a boat), I would need to be rich. After researching it a bit, I figured that marine biologists only make about $40,000 a year, while lawyers make around $89,000, starting salary. Besides, before getting to learn about the creatures of the deep, one must first understand the human body, and that would require more studying of icky, gross body parts that wouldn't otherwise be required. No thanks. I liked to argue; I could easily go through the required extra schooling to afford my expensive ideal lifestyle. But is that what I really wanted?
me and my family getting ready
to go in the water
            Riding the boat out to the reef, listening to the professional talk about everything we would have a chance to see in our expedition, I wasn't so sure. My mother helped zip my wetsuit. Putting on the snorkel, mask, and flippers, I knew I couldn't wait to get into the water. Like many beach trips, the water was calling me.
            Even though back at home it was summer, in Australia the chilliness of winter reached most parts of the country. Fortunately, Port Douglas is one of the more northern parts of the continent, so it was only around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The coolness of the water was still felt through my flippers, but I continued in, deeper, until slowly, the water engulfed my body.
            I'd never really been good at snorkeling; the water would always somehow get in the mask and I'd choke. I could scuba around my pool for hours, but could never correctly snorkel. Somehow, the yellow snorkeling set containing a yellow mask and a yellow snorkel kept me afloat.
Clam Coral
Picture from Google Images
Squirt (pic from Google Images)
            Looking down at the complex mix of colors below me, I understood why it is called the Great Barrier Reef. It truly is great. Cute little fish swam below me, in and out of the maze of their protective coral clumps. I spent about 10 minutes alone simply watching a purple clam coral contract and expand. It was hypnotizing. I even saw a sea turtle, one that could have easily been Squirt (from the 2003 film Finding Nemo), had he been based off of a real sea turtle.
            My bright orange flippers and the hot pink logo on my wetsuit were nothing in comparison to the shades and tints of colors that could only be found outside of this natural phenomenon in Crayola's most advanced box of crayons. I had to get a closer look. Snorkeling at the surface of the water was simply not working for me. I wanted more. I needed more.

            After putting on the air helmet, I headed down, down, down, onto a platform several meters below where I had been snorkeling. A guide also came down, to help show me some creatures I might not have otherwise noticed. The things he held were interesting, but not as fascinating as the Red Bass.
Red Bass (pic from Google Images)
            Looking around, amazed at all the flora and fauna of this underwater habitat, a giant red fish swimming towards me grabbed my attention. It looked like it had fangs! Two sharp teeth hung out of its mouth, one on each side. I wasn't afraid though. As the fish got closer, so did more! More of what I called "vampire fish" swam toward me, the guide, and the other people on the platform. Still, I was not afraid. Even though I could see how pointy its teeth were, I reached out to pet it. As it swam by, the smoothness of its body reminded me of that of a dolphin, although they aren't even the same type of animal (dolphin being a mammal, and the red bass being a fish).
Me with the Red Bass Fish
            As I reluctantly got out of the water, I couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of nature, something I'm not sure I've ever done before. Usually I've just taken it for granted, but not then. In the notes app on my phone, my list of things to tell Kaitlin, I wrote:
Snorkeling in the
Great Barrier Reef
            The Great Barrier Reef is soooo gorgeous. It makes me realize why I've pretty much always wanted to be a marine biologist. I love it. All the coral and fish - spectacular. It's amazing!
            My experience that day in the Great Barrier Reef  made me hopeful I could mix Marine Biology and Law. Maritime law exists, and so does international law, and I'm sure one of them would gladly appreciate a lawyer specialized in marine life. Now my goals are set and I'm ready to achieve them. I will mix my passion and need for riches, and I will live a wonderful life. 

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