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Experience through Egypt

By: Daniel Deisley, high school alumnus High School Adventures, Scuba, Sailing

The Egyptian sun slowly sets behind the massive sandstone cliffs burning the sky like a tired ember of a fire. The fading light is absorbed by the calm ocean waters making them glow a radiant pink and gold. Silently I bob up and down in its warmth I have come to know and love so well. There are only four of us on this final night and dive of what has been some of the most amazing weeks of my young life. Undetected we sink out of the spectacles of one world and enter into an even more divine and serene one below. Gently we drift down to the sandy bottom where we immediately find a young rockfish. It resembles a greenish-gray leafy frog and as we get closer it clumsily drags itself across the sand with its fins. We notice a small yellow and brown spotted eel snake swimming like a rippling ribbon in the small hands of a running child. It pokes its head beneath small coral outcroppings as it hunts. I move close so the eel is just a few inches from my mask. Looking back I see my buddy and I grab her hand and pull gently as I motion her to come closer. Her eyes bulge and she shakes loose of my grasp. I laugh through my regulator as she shakes her head and smiles back at me.

We swim onward down the shallow sloped sea floor until we reach a large vibrant pink coral head. Giant sea urchins sift the waters with their massive spines like huge needles. For some reason I can’t take my eyes off these creatures and I realize it is because they are the most beautiful color of deep, dark, blood-maroon red I have ever seen. The others move on but entranced I remain. Out of the corner of my eye I sense movement and I have the eerie feeling that something has its eyes trained on me. My eyes dart around as my heart begins to race. Fused into the coral a small cuttlefish emerges cautiously pulling itself along the crevices with ivory white tentacles and oscillating iridescent blue and green fins. Suddenly a long red tongue shoots out into a small hole in the coral and pulls back an opaque shrimp. Instantly the cuttlefish changes colors from a soft brown to a dark purple with violent blue spots as it darts away. I look into my buddy’s huge eyes and see her sheer excitement, and I know I must have the same look on my face. We swim to catch up with the rest of the group only wishing we could tell them what I had just seen.

We pass over an open sandy area and we decide to rest and enjoy the magical bioluminescence that can be seen during night dives. Chemical reactions deep within minuscule organisms ignite a miniature fireworks show. Explosions of intense green spark surrounding us as we wildly shake our arms around. Out of the distance we see three dark figures approaching us and quickly fumble for our lights. Lights flash on and illuminate three lionfish moving towards us. They are bursting in color and form like magnificent ancient warriors dressed for battle with spines of poison spread out like missive wings. Our dive master signals to us to watch her as she pins her light on a small fish resting on the bottom. Like assassins the lionfish begin to creep towards it, drawn to it by the light, the first of the silent stalkers positions itself above the little fish. Angling its body it explodes downwards with its mouth gaping it inhales the doomed fish. Our dive master smacks her knees and writhes with happiness. I can feel her energy within me as adrenaline surges through my veins. We swim on but the lionfish choose to follow me. Unlike I would have imagined I am very calm as the dangerous fish swim behind and to the sides of me. I can sense they don’t want to harm me and I believe they can sense the same from me. In fact appreciate their company as they calmly lead me through their underwater garden. I wave my new but fond companions onwards as we ascend up to the surface.

At the safety stop I rest easily suspended effortlessly with my feet outstretched in an intense state of happiness and fulfillment. Beautiful red worms drawn to our lights come and dance for us. They twist and twirl around my hands in such a beautiful manner they almost make me come to tears. I begin to swim upwards and am the last one to do so. Wearily I watch as the surface comes near. It is so calm I can see craters on the fully illuminated moon stretched across the glassy black water. Out of respect I take time to thank each creature for giving me the opportunity to share its time and space. I reach the surface but I do not breach it. I do not yet want to leave this most magical place. As I look down for the last time I see the form of a massive napoleon fish and I watch as its edges merge into the shapeless distance.