My boyfriend Mike and I had the unique opportunity to get PADI certified in one of Jacques Cousteau’s favorite underwater wonders, Palau. As it turns out, my equipment wasn’t quite right and there was a leak in the regulator. I assumed the salty influx of fluid was a natural discomfort in this new environment, but after 32 long minutes, I simply couldn’t tolerate it anymore.
On the surface, my dive master made a quick replacement of my equipment and within a half hour we were poised to take our next dive…this time in one of the world’s most celebrated passages, the Blue Corner.
Though underwater and unable to speak out loud, I could hear myself exclaiming, “My God, there is nothing else like this.” I was swept up in the soft current, barley kicking at all as we coasted along the dramatic underwater cliff. Gorgonian fans, anemones, eels and soft corals lined the wall.
At first, we were greeted by just a few cruising gray reef sharks, but at this point, they kept their distance.
As we drifted along the coral shelf, the current got stronger and the shark population swelled. While my lungs filled with the hypnotic air and I became totally relaxed, I felt Mike’s anxiety grow. We lingered just over the wall high above the huge depths below before our dive master hooked us onto the edge for the ride of our life.
We were floating in the strong current, which carried small organisms that enticed the small fish, who appealed to the big fish, that drew the even bigger fish, who in great fascination attracted what seemed to be hundreds of sharks as well as eagle rays and large Napolean Wrass.
As we relaxed and entered what seemed to be a meditative mode, we became one with nature’s most awesome aquarium. White tips, gray reef sharks and large schools of jacks and black snappers surrounded us. The concentration of marine life was overwhelming.
Exhilarated and exhausted at the same time, we unleashed ourselves from the ridge and retreated from the drop-off where we drifted back and the currents subsided. We then encountered a more casual journey in the hard coral covered shelf where we discovered hundreds of species of fish. turtles, manta rays, eagle rays large dogtooth tuna, triggerfish, clown triggers, schooling barracuda, jacks and several species of butterfly fish.
Once we surfaced, Mike and I were completely spent with the rush of our virgin voyage. We were ready for more and welcomed the next climax.