GoPro Winner - April - Rebekah Weatherhead
If you had asked me a year ago what I would be doing now, I’d have answered with “sitting in a veterinary clinic sorting through paper work and preparing for the day’s consults!”, only in my dreams would I have been spending time in the depths of the ocean dancing with the creatures of the Indonesian coral reefs.
Pinching my nose to equalise, I open my eyes as wide as possible in attempt to take in the entire view at once. Knelt on the training platform at just a mere 5 meters, the damsel fish danced around my legs, the butterfly fish passed us by in their buddy pairs and the wrasse attempted to clean my fins! Corals of all shapes and sizes, formed a jigsaw covering the reef wall, and I found myself staring into the deep blue abyss! Distracted, I looked up to see the last remaining dive pair descending along the buoy line to join us, with expressions that I can only imagine were mirroring those of my own. After 5 weeks of sitting in a classroom and enduring the cold waters of the Ipswich swimming pool, nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming sense of calm and tranquility mixed with the pangs of excitement that were hitting me with full force under the water.
Eventually our Divemaster regained the attention of the group and it was time to run through the first set of skills. Concentrating was difficult, eager to pass through the skills and go for our first scuba journey exploring the reef slope. It wasn't long before that time came and it did not disappoint! Within seconds of leaving the safety of the training platform, the real diversity of the reef was revealed. Beneath us pufferfish lazed around amongst the substrate, moray eels intermittently appeared from nowhere checking us out before disappearing back into the crevices they called home. A scorpion fish so well camouflaged none of us had spotted it, was chilling, hanging out on the pole of the platform! It all seemed so surreal, yet I felt naturally at ease! Too soon it was time to surface. Carrying out a five minute safety stop, we said goodbye to the wonders of the morning reef, knowing it wouldn't be too long before we could once again join the corals to explore what the afternoon reef had in store!
I may now have multiple dives under my belt, but not one of them will ever recreate that cocktail of emotions of my very first dive. One thing I am sure of – I do not regret chasing my dreams, even if it meant taking a leap of faith and an ultimate change in career! Veterinary marine biologist … that’s a thing yes?
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