Saturday, March 19, 2011

Take Your Breath Away

“The most important thing to remember is always keep breathing.

I eyed the paperwork sandwiched between his hand and the table. My signature was in there, somewhere, committing my life to this man.

He continued his speech, “and this is the hand signal for “shark.” His hand wiggled on top of his head in an impersonation of Jaws. “When you’re scuba diving, you should always be careful when walking on sand, since you could step on a sleeping sting ray. Also, it’s important to remember never to put your hands where you can’t see. Otherwise those moray eels…well…snap! You might not get your hand back.” He laughed.

Eels? I glanced at my sister. We were just going to a local pool…right? Minnesota isn’t known for its open water lakes in March. Thanks to one of those Internet coupons, Hannah and I jumped at the chance to attend an introductory session on scuba diving.

“Ready? Let’s go!”

Despite the dire warnings, 45 minutes later, I found myself in a very benign community swimming pool, sitting 12 feet below the surface of the water and practicing a skill that I haven’t thought much about since I emerged from the womb—breathing.

Although my scenic vista consisted of blue-tiled walls, Papua New Guinea is considered one of the world’s last frontiers for diving and an underwater photographer’s paradise. Thousands of square miles of coral reef are crammed with innumerable fish and other creatures; PNG is considered to have about twice the amount of fish species as compared to the Red Sea, and roughly ten times as many species of corals as compared to the Caribbean. It’s home to the Great Barrier Reef (which stretches down past Australia), which is the planet’s largest coral reef system, with some 3,000 individual reefs over an area of approximately 344,400 square km. It is the biggest single structure made by living creatures and can be seen from outer space. Wreck diving is a common pastime by divers, since PNG hosts an amazing collection of sunken ships, aircraft and submarines from World War 2.

Just take a look at some of these amazing photos (all thanks to I think they’ll take your breath away (whether you have a regulator or not!).

Blue Starfish hanging out in a coral reef

A Flamboyant Cuttlefish shows off for the camera

A Pink Anemonefish crouches among an anemone in PNG

A Spine-Cheek Anenomefish looks like it swam out of The Little Mermaid!
The venomous Lionfish sounds like one of the animals my instructor was warning me about!
I praise the Lord for His beautiful creation in a world that so often goes unnoticed!