Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sting Ray

     What have I been up to lately? I have been hard at work studying. I know that I need to get on here and update my goings on, but I haven't really had the time. I have been getting up at 3 am for the past two weeks in order to have time to get all of my material straight. So, by the time I get a bit of free time in the day, the last thing that I want to do is type. (I am about the worst typist ever) But over the last week My good spearfisng buddy (Greg) and I have been able to get out and do a bit of what we like to do.
      Last Thursday, Greg's son was here visiting and Greg really wanted to show Trent(the son) a good time. So Greg begged me for the previous few days to skip some precious study time and get out with them. It is a must to have at least two adults and if there were any more teenagers then one going with us we would have probably have needed another adult. We have never had any problems in the water, (if you don't count the day where I was having conciousness problems-That day every time I submerged the change in pressure was was giving me crazy vertigo. I swam down to about 15 feet and felt very disoriented. I couldn't hardly tell which direction the surface was. I was pretty weirded out and so I stayed on the surface for about a half-hour, and began feeling better. I got the gumption to go down after a large perot fish and when I got down about ten feet I got very dizzy and most of my field of vision went dark. I remember thinking, "This is not a good place to pass out!") Other than that day, I have felt very good in the ocean. I always(well, almost always) feel safe and secure.
       Greg, Trent and I arrived at the bay and got ready to hike around the corner of the island to a new place that was quite new to us. We hiked for about a half hour to a nice rocky beach and geared up. I always get a bit nervous when I go to a new spot. When I  don't know what to expect and my mind starts racing. As I was washing the spittle out of my mask I thought, "Man, why am I nervous like a little school-girl? I'm am not a rookie." Being nervous keeps you cautious I guess. I got into the water and got my fins clipped on. the water was cloudy but warm and I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to fish. But about 30 ft off the shore it was like I swam through a curtain and all of the sudden the water cleared up and the ocean floor came into view. I was astonished at how georgous this new spot was. As I go along here, spending about 4-8 hours per week in the water, I catch myself beginning to take the ocean for granted and I have to conciously remind myself to enjoy the beauty and the life that flurishes on the ocean floor. Off to one side there may be a school of saucer sized blue or green tropical fish, and at the same time there may be green, purple, yellow or white coral growing along the rock outcropping to my left. I am constantly amazed how teaming with life this beautiful turquoise ocean is.
     We swam along for about an hour admiring the beauty of this new spot and watching sea-life go bye, almost totally undisturbed by us. It is fascinating to watch the hundreds of fish and how they interact with their environment and with each other. There seems to be all stages of life constantly playing out below us. There are small fish that seem to be playing; chasing eachother in and out of the holes in the rocks, teenage fish that seem as if they are flirting; nipping at eachother and then dashing off as the other gives chase, and old grumpy fish who seem to be just protecting their spot in this big, big world. I was watching (hunting) a medium sized yellow tailed snapper a few months back. As I was following him along,waiting for him to hide so I could go down after him, he darted into a big hole beneath the reef. He was inside for about 5 seconds before he came flying back out. On his "heels" was another snapper about 4 times his size chasing him out as if to say,"This is my hole. Find your own spot" I would have laughed out loud, had my face not been in the water.
      Recently Greg and I took one of our classmates out to give her a tour of the ocean and all that lies therin. She was constanly ooing and aweing at so many things that have become second nature to me. She helped me come back down to earth and realize how truly blessed I am to have these experiences in my life. Thanks Sheaba! Anyway, I digress again.
     As the three of us swam along there were numerous fish that were huntable size. I told Greg several times that we needed to go after them but he had dreams of shooting a very large fish instead of the 3-4 lb ones that were all around. Another of our classmates keeps telling us that we need to get some stingray becasue is is awesome. So after about an hour, Greg spots a Stingray in about 30-35 ft of water. He goes down and checks it out and comes back up to say that he thought it was big enough and that we could shoot it if I wanted to. I was somewhat impartial and told him that if he wanted it, then to go for it. So after taking a few seconds to catch his breath, Greg again submerges to go see if the stingray will hold still long enough to get a shot at it. He only got about half way down, and game back up gasping for air. He had been free-diving a bit too much and had warn himself out. He then told me that I should try for it. I took two deep breaths and then I was off. I dolphin kicked my way down to the floor and held up between its two eyes, letting my spear fly. I hit him and after making sure that my spear was all the way through its cartlagenous body, started for the surface. He was stronger than I had immagined. About half way to the surface I found that he was begining to pull me down, back to the ocan floor. Before I knew it Greg was at my right and Trent at my left. All of the sudden this poor stingray had three spears in it. I was begining to feel the need to have more air and so I handed my spear to 15-year-old Trent and headed for some much needed air.
      I blew my snorkel clean and looked back down to see the ray,with my spear hanging out of it, at the bottom and swimming away. Just then I hear Greg yell, "BARACCUDA!"
     That was pretty much the last thing that I wanted to hear. I searched the surface franticly to see, off to my right, the 5 ft baraccuda and his enterauge of 6 inch fish. He was just under the surface about 15 ft away. Greg swam over in front of me and said, "I got the baraccuda. You go get the ray." Yeah right! I knew there was no way that if I went down after that fish that Greg could stop the baraccuda from taking a big chunck out of me. But I also wasn't going to let the ray swim off with my spear to die. I grabbed Trents spear from him and once again; down I went. It only took Greg telling me to go about 3 times! I got down at his nose and fired Trents spear exactly between his eyes and grabbed my spear. I proceeded made a b-line for the surface. I got back up and Greg told me to get out of there. Without giving it a second thought, I was off to the shore. I didn't have a clue where the big preditor was, but I hoped that I could get out of his sight-and fast. I collapsed on the shore with my legs and lungs buring, so thankful for dry earth once more.

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