Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lone Snorkler at the Barrier Reef

So, you decided to snorkle at the Barrier Reef? It's odd why you, a young, able-bodied woman are abstaining from diving. But don't try to explain your reasons: they aren't good enough. There really can be no reasons (except for your own strong-headedness) why, given that you're already spending a night on a live-aboard diving vessel, you're not working on your diving certification. No, no, don't try to explain. You know that you're wrong to miss a diving opportunity this good. You'll get certified on the next trip. But for now, you're insisting on snorkeling, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

1. Most likely, you're the only snorkler on the live-aboard diving boat. No problem. You can swim wherever you like, completely alone. Hovering on top of the reef, you will see many of the same things the divers see, but likely, since you're without a guide or a buddy, you won't be able to identify what you're seeing.

2. Even if you're only snorkling, you still get a to don a wetsuit, so that you won't feel like you're standing out too much in your swim suit. You will also get a warning not to touch coral. Yes, in some parts of the reef, the water will be shallow enough so that you could dive down just holding your breath and touch fish or coral, but don't do it. Leave diving to the divers. The coral and the fish can be poisonous, and you're the only snorkler out at sea.

3. The shark that you see will be less of a shark because nobody has seen it with you (and can back up your story). Also less of a shark because you don't have an expensive underwater camera to document the encounter. Also less of a shark because you didn't find it in its den among the corals, but you let the divers find it, and then the shark found you. Even if in your own imagination the shark is more of a shark because you're the lone snorkler outside the boat, and the shark is going right for you, good luck explaining the experience to the divers, who have donned oxygen tanks and took several hours of training courses so that they can go to the bottom of the ocean and swim with the sharks. Your shark is definitely less of a shark.

4. You will make eye contact with giant, colorful fish, but you will be the one to get scared and run away. Proper divers, on the other hand, are not afraid of anything but their own equipment.

5. Snorkeling right on top of the reef plateau, you might find yourself uncomfortably close to giant purple lips of a clam that look ready to eat you. Everything within your arm's reach will look severely poisonous and/or sharp, but that's because you're a silly snorkler and don't know any better.

6. You might have a harder time seeing stingrays that stick to the sandy bottom of the ocean. If you do see one, it will be more or less by accident because you're not at the bottom of the ocean.

7. You won't see tiny, beautiful worms living in the sand or in the coral at the bottom of the ocean.

8. You might see a giant sea turtle, but it might be less of a turtle because of #3 amplified by the fact that nobody, even a snorkler, could be afraid of turtles. They are TURTLES! Haven't you seen enough movies, snorkler? Turtles are cute, cuddly animals. Turtles are your friend, snorkler! You might as well be afraid of your own shadow, snorkler, or of Nemo the fish.

9. It's entirely possible that snorklers like yourself give diving a bad name. Admit it, snorkler, you're just scared of everything. You're a) chicken and b) a stubborn chicken. Why don't you stop being so stubborn, and simply take a diving class with one of the certified instructors on board? Then you'd be safe in the company of other divers and won't be afraid of anything (except running out of air, getting disoriented at the bottom of the sea, losing your buddy, getting a nitrogen poisoning because of surfacing too quickly, and a couple of other technical details -- which are really nothing to be afraid of since you'll get your training). Stop being so silly, snorkler!

10. Good luck having your picture taken in the water by the ship's photographer. If he does happen to take it, you'll find it in the deleted items folder. Really, snorkler, you'd pay $18 for just one picture of yourself? How odd.

11. Everything about you is odd, snorkler.

12. Snorklers might not get a second helping of chocolate pudding at dinner. Just kidding. Chocolate pudding is for everyone.

Snorkling or diving, the Barrier Reef is a pretty spectacular sight. For a more in-depth view of it, read Dave's blog: dave-grenetz.blogspot.com.


  1. we were up there for a week in 1995 and it rained so much we never got to the reef. Paul was so disappointed but I was secretly, guiltily relieved. Insert chicken sounds here.

  2. I really did have fun there. But there's a huge disconnect between divers' and non-divers' attitude to diving :))