Sea cucumbers are the best. The squishy, turd-shaped blobs spend their entire lives inching along the sea floor, eating sand and breathing through their bums. Should they feel threatened, their only defense mechanism is to poop out their innards and hope that distracts whatever predator is after them. Of course, then they have to spend several weeks as a shriveled mass trying to regrow their internal organs. The fact that such a creature exists in this world makes me a little happier to be alive. I’m telling you all of this a) so that your lives can be a little bit happier too and b) to give you some groundwork for the story I am about to tell.
Patrick and I are not dive-certified. In fact, Patrick is a little bit terrified of scuba diving, but because we were at the Great Barrier Reef he bravely gave it a try. We decided to do an introductory dive so we could experience a little bit more of the reef than we might just snorkeling.
An introductory dive is a short, guided dive that requires no training. It is designed to give people a chance to try out scuba diving without committing to an entire dive course. Before you get in the water you go through a short training session with an instructor who goes over some basic skills you should know like how to get water out of your mask or what to do if your respirator falls out of your mouth somehow. After our onboard training, we strapped on some scuba gear and dove in.
Once in the water we had to prove that we could do all of those skills we learned about. It was not as scary as we thought it would be – even the one where we had to throw our respirator away from us then find it again. It only took a few minutes then our instructor led us on a short adventure of the reef.
He guided us to a sandy spot and had us kneel down on the ocean floor. Then, magically, he picked up a huge sea cucumber and placed it in our hands! I squealed. I’m sure everyone else in our group thought I was dying or panicking. Patrick was probably the only one who understood that my finger wiggling and bubble blowing roughly translated to, “Ahh! This may be the best thing that has ever happened! I am sitting on the bottom of the ocean, in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, holding a real live SEA CUCUMBER!!!”
We didn’t get to take any photos because you are not allowed to bring a camera on an introductory dive, but that is a-okay. I am just happy for the experience, and I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures of sea cucumbers for your viewing pleasure while we were snorkeling.
PS – Patrick decided he likes scuba.