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Dark water

By: Jake Minevitz, high school alumnus High School Adventures, Scuba, Sailing

We are talking now of nights spent diving off Ras Mohamed National Park, where plains of packed sand and rock jut up from the water line and run for miles into mountains and plateaus. Along the coast, enormous hotels and hustling dive boats can be seen; smaller towns and villages are scattered in the distance. Saudi Arabia floats just miles away. The tired sun begins to sink behind ancient sand as small fishing vessels scramble back to port, red sky fades to dark as stars are lit and the moon readies itself just beyond the horizon.

However it is not of stars or moonlight that I want to speak of now; but of the deceivingly brisk water beneath. Below the surface, a 10,000 foot coral wall wraps the arid peninsula. Tornados of tuna, packs of barracuda, and hungry hammerhead await their next meal. Aboard a well equipped dive vessel the drone of a compressor will soon die out and dive gear will be divided, a world of wetsuits and weight belts will come alive. There is a rush for fins and flashlights; this world is now guided by glow sticks. Tanks clank and shoulder straps are pulled tight, after sampling a breath from their regulator one waits in wonder. Weight belts are wiggled and flashlights jiggled. Stumbling students are steadied by careful crewmen and sturdier scuba divers, the back of the boat bobs just above the wall, a blazing flood light illuminates a path to the thousand fathom fall. The captain blasts his horn signaling the dive to begin; creepy-water enthusiasts need no convincing. They splash into the dark, daring to speak the language of the deep.

Following a bold instructor they are led to the lip of the ledge, air is relieved through vital valves in black buoyancy vests. The group of budding adventurers admires amazing Acropora. The delicate white coral stretches far from the solid wall, dancing in the gentle tide. Kicking along there are fantastic brains of yellow spongy matter; extraordinary organisms which have matured for millions of years. A school of sapphire fish flickered sideways surveying the scuba divers; a nervous sea-slug slipped safely between two stones, as sea snakes slithered below.

While continuing to inhale from breathing apparatuses the band beads out and swims steadily, a diver from the middle breaks the string and swims softly toward the open water. Others calmly view this venture; with one flip of his fin he is facing the moon and has removed his mouthpiece, chipmunk cheeks puff out then pop with a perfect circle of air. The sparkling ring lifts itself and expands becoming thinner and thinner before bursting near the surface; the others pause admiring this awesome.

Soon after, the tally is complete and nobody has strayed, some wrestle wet wetsuits, while others wipe off water. The solid sun is set and the orange moon casts a heavy beam which divides the dark water. A pharos blinks from the island boulders of Taran as boats breeze beneath the stars.