Thinking about snorkeling in the Bahamas

How did I think about the Bahamas the other day? Who doesn’t think of the Bahamas in January? I read a news story that said the Great Barrier Reef is dying. I’ve never looked at the Great Barrier Reef, but I snorkeled in the Caribbean once.

Did you like the story of Nemo? I did too. It was a sweet story that I watched dozens of times when my Nick was small. It’s a story that we still watch now and then. So, here’s an experiment. Put in your well-worn copy of Nemo. I know. Your kids have gone off to college by now and that copy is buried at the back of the shelf with the movies on it. Put it in anyway, then turn down the sound on the movie. Take away the sweet voices telling you a story. Just watch. A pretty children’s animation, you might think.

No, the colors are right. The proportions are right. The movement is right. The sharks seem like the only characters who have been formed more to look like animations of themselves. Okay, the schools of fish don’t form arrows in the water, but they move like a closely knit flock of birds, sweeping and soaring. The corals look that way. The fish are brightly colored, just like what you see in those sad dentist office

Now, think of that dying, turning gray and decomposing. Tragic.

There I was, turned out of the glass-bottomed boat in just my bathing suit and a snorkel, face down in the water and looking at this fantasy world of fish and corals. It made all those dentist office aquariums look sad. I was enthralled. I was not on Earth any more. I was floating through space, looking at alien lifeforms and fish. The alien lifeforms were green and pink and had tentacles, only they were cute tentacles that flowed as if a gentle breeze were blowing. The abundance of all of this wildlife, right here within a few inches from my outstretched arms amazed me. Schools of hundreds of fish swirled in the underwater skies. Tiny pink bushes grew and blue grass waved long round blades in the air.

A wave poured sea water into my snorkel. Not knowing the secret that I could breathe through the bubbles and blow the extra water out the other end on the next breath, I raised my head to tread water, empty my snorkel, and look around. The boat had drifted a long way away from me. Or I had drifted. I’d been lost in my own world, could have floated off in space and been lost forever. It would have been heaven.

That’s what I remember when I think of a coral reef. How can we let the Great Barrier reef die without a fight?

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