Its peaceful down here, the only sound I hear the hiiiiiist as I draw in air from my tank followed by the gentle blobbloboboloboloblbolbo as I exhale and bubbles float past my mask. Using my equipment and breathing techniques I'm able to float weightless, as if I'm in outer space, a simple flick of my fin all thats needed to send me in any direction I choose. On the best days I can find a current to ride, its like flying ! pick a pose, laid back and relaxed or superman like arms out in front. If I choose to I can stop, spin, hover or bob vertically face down close to the choral. Im able to share my excitement with my friends, pointing out exciting things we see to each other and making sure were all OK. Or I can choose to spend my time inside my own thoughts and just relax in the calm and quiet.
As I float just above the chorals, many fish come to greet me, curious, angry at the invasion of there privacy or playful most of the fish like to inspect new arrivals in one way or another. If I'm patient and still, cleaner wrass will approach me and nibble at my fins or feet. Moray eels peer from the homes in the rocks. Looking like juveniles from the movie Aliens. Perhaps they burst from someone chest only this morning. The reef is more alive than any environment I've ever seen. Covering only 0.1 % of the ocean floor they give home and food to around 25% of fish species. The light reflects back at me and all the colours of the rainbow are present. Some of the fish are beautiful, other are down right strange to look at, like the monsters in children tales. Some of them are even difficult to spot, blending in to the rocks or choral and changing there colour or shape as they wish. Puffer and box fish look strangely cumbersome in the water and I'm careful not to approach to close. i don't want the puffer to react I know they can suffer from heart attacks when stressed and can even get the bends if they inflate and ascend to quickly. Its a problem I can sympathise with since my body can also be affected.
The rainbow of chorals glides by me, I can see stag chorals like so many amputated raindeer, brain chorals, strange and alien looking as if the oceans mind has grown out of its skull. Christmas tree worms dash back into the burrows as I pass by before once again emerging to feed. There is red, blue, purple, green. Giant clams pulse with the current feeding and I can see the intricate patterns picked out inside there bodies in magenta high lights. I know some of the marine life down here can hurt me if I'm not careful. A titan trigger fish is feeding near its nest, I give it a wide berth. There not aggressive, there defensive creatures and if I get too close it will become scared and attack me. Brightly coloured striped angel fish swim with there life long partners and bat fish swim in groups approaching me curiously before darting away to rejoin there friends. Of a sudden there is a multitude of silver flashes as sunlight reflects of the scales of a group of chevron Baracuda. The school of a few hundred or more surround me, swimming with me perhaps to deter predators. Damsel fish display. there faces changing to a yellow colour if I get to close to there homes. They bait me as if to say there not afraid. Wriggling there tails into my mask in frustration as this giant cumbersome human floats by.
We go deeper now and the colours begin to change, gone are the reds and yellows. The ocean down here is bathed in shades of greens, blues and purples. Clown fish hide inside there Anemoe and i linger for a moment floating above there home as they peer out between the fronds at me. I can feel the pressure change in my body. Bigger fish can be found down here, there are giant groupers as big as my leg. Hiding under rocks we have spotted rays and perhaps an Octopus. By changing my breathing I can start to rise again back into shallower water, I spot a hawksbill turtle feeding on some soft choral. Its sad this creature eats the reef itself but its part of the ecosystem and has been for hundreds of year. She is quite relaxed, and I'm able to glide to just above her. No more than a half meter from her as she gazes up at me, perhaps deciding if I'm a friend or foe. She must decide I'm a friend because she returns to her meal with apparent dis interest.
Checking my dive computer I see its almost time to ascend, this environment can pose all kinds of risks, some of them quite serious but I'm not concerned I'm confident in my training and I know I can handle most emergencies by myself. I have my buddy near by if its something I can't handle alone. As we make our way to the surface for a 3 minute safety stop I enjoy the feeling of weightlessness one last time and hover, crouched down onto my fins.