When I was much younger, my family and I were lucky enough to spend some time living in the USA. And on one of our family holidays, we took the opportunity to visit a couple of the islands in the Caribbean. I was young enough that my memories of the whole trip are a little patchy, but there were a handful of specific moments that will stay with me forever.
THE OCTOPUS– Scuba diving is supposed to be the ultimate underwater experience, however snorkelling remains just that little bit closer to my heart. With one deep breath, you can explore like an astronaut, free from the constraints of any equipment. An experience everyone should have. But I digress. Back to the octopus. Swimming happily along, my dad and I spot a flash of red disappearing behind some rocks. We swim over, dive down and try to spot where this mysterious red thing had disappeared to. After a few cycles of coming up for air and diving back down, we realise that the animal had not disappeared behind the rocks. The animal had in fact become the rocks! That’s some first-class camouflage right there.
THE GIANT LEATHERBACK TURTLE– Do you ever get the feeling that someone’s watching you? Well I don’t. But I did get the feeling that something was swimming behind me. So I spin around, ready to do battle with whatever hell spawn Poseidon has to throw at me, and see this enormous leatherback turtle quietly swimming along. Do a quick Google search and you will see just how big these things get. So there I am, swimming next to this gentle giant, peaceful as I’ve ever been. Then suddenly, with a hard flap of the flippers, the turtle fades away into the gloomy depths of the ocean. Truly magical.
THE SHARK– Have you ever heard the joke, why can a shark never catch you in water? (because you can swim through water faster than a shark can swim through s**t). Well that got a bit too close to becoming a reality on the final day in the Caribbean. Once again, snorkelling away, except this time I was on my own. Beautiful fish to my left, colourful coral to my right, and all of sudden, a shark about 20 meters ahead of me. Now I can’t tell you what kind of shark it was, nor can I tell you its size, because I immediately proceeded to blow the snorkel out of my mouth in panic and then fill my goggles with water as I thrashed around trying to breathe. Shark probably thought I was having a fit. So by the time I had regained vision and regular breathing, the shark was long gone. Though that didn’t hold me from breaking all the aquatic world records as I swam back to shore. Once again, an amazing experience now that I am sat comfortably in the future!