After a long week and full days of diving training, the time finally came when I was able to call myself a certified PADI open-water diver. Feeling very satisfied with myself and the hard work I put in to receive this certification, my first opportunity for a recreational dive came when Dr. Brad Peterson announced at dinner that day that he would take me and a few others to a ‘secret’ diving location [Ed: The other professor had to put out baited videos, not that he’s bitter about missing this dive…]. Here we would have the chance to see a larger variety of marine life than we had previously experienced while snorkeling in the immediate area of Discovery Bay surrounding the Marine Lab. Not knowing what exactly to expect, Dr. Peterson my dive mates and I boarded the boat with Master Diver Snow at the wheel.
Upon arriving at the site, Dr. Peterson went through the dive plan and explained to us that, after a brief stop, we would be diving through a canyon that extended well over 60 feet deep. Everyone followed the usual diving procedures and met a location about 30 feet deep where we then swam over to a location where a table had been set up under water with benches and [seawater filled] bottles of Red Stripe Jamaican beer. After a short photo shoot, we began our journey to the main attraction.
As we descended into the canyon I soon found myself surrounded on both sides by enormous sponges and corals of all different types and colors. Giant schools of dark colored fish that Snow told us were called “chub” were very abundant, along with larger versions of the vibrant fish that we had already identified swimming in the lagoon by the Marine Lab. After spending about 20 minutes on a self guided dive, my buddy and I followed the proper procedures for surfacing and returned to the boat. Needless to say it was quite an amazing experience that I only had a greater appreciation for after thinking that the photo of us in the canyon looked like something out of the James Cameron movie “The Abyss.”