Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Snorkeling School

The day started on the whitest beach I have ever seen...
The entrance to Whitehaven Beach, at high tide. Yes, this beach gets deeper.

The sand was soft and dusty like powdered sugar. Ninety-eight percent (98%) silica, Whitehaven Beach is made of the purest sand to be found--so clean that the Hubble telescope's lens was crafted from it before a ban was put in place to prohibit the pilfering of this beautiful beach. And allegedly 80,000 years old.

The view from the water's edge.


The aquamarine water carves through the sand forming switchbacks that seemingly lead to the sky. And as the tides shift, shallow lagoons dot the beach creating perfect wading pools for small children and those fearful of the jellyfish that await in deeper waters.

My attempt at a panarama from the overlook in shifting sunlight. You can get an idea of the shifting sands.

After a morning spent sunbathing, wading and enjoying the latest Hang gliding and Paragliding magazine, we set off for an afternoon snorkel spot. Our destination was Mantaray Bay sheltered by large black rocks and bearing a tidy tan beach. The water sparkled turquoise and green atop colorful coral.

The view looking out of the bay where I snorkeled.

As I snorkeled between coral heads, I spotted a school of yellowtail fusilier intermixed with black and white striped sissortail sergeant. Next thing I knew the small fish, ranging in size from the palm of my hand to the sole of my foot, we're looking me straight in the eye. With what I can only guess was curiosity, the fish surrounded me on all sides. Swimming in unison, the schooling fish swerved to the left, then the right, then beneath me into the deep blue. A few moments later, I glimpsed them swimming up at me, looking as if they might give me a little kiss or nibble.

Luckily, these were not amorous fish and they eventually let me be.

Alone. Again.

In the wide blue ocean.

But the experience of being subsumed into a school of tropical fish has stuck with me. The grace with which the fish moved, the inquisitiveness in their watery eyes, the way they took turns leading the pack in different directions, the way they amicably schooled with fishes of another design. It all seems to reflect the fluidity which I am seeking in my life. My desire to flow through life with a peaceful contentedness, alternating between being a leader and a follower, accepting all as members of my community--even if it is temporary.

The perfect end to a lovely day.


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