I Speak Scuba

It’s true.  And it is actually a language option on Facebook profiles.  For many of the same reasons I like learning other languages, I also like SCUBA diving.

For one, it brings people together.  It is not a graceful sport, and the sea humbles everyone.  It’s quite difficult (not to mention ridiculously unsafe) to dive without at least one buddy, and most dive centers are run by dive “teams”.  In fact, my old boss used to say, “Teamwork is dreamwork.”  She was only half joking.

Secondly, the more time you spend immersed in it (in this case, underwater), the easier it becomes to communicate.  And like mathematics, SCUBA language is pretty much universal.  Though I had a hard time understanding Miguel’s accent in Spanish sometimes, we were easy diving buddies.

Finally, and also like with foreign languages and cultures, there is an endless amount to learn — both about diving, as the sport is fairly new and curious thrill-seekers push the limits daily, and about the underwater world.  The more time you spend with a reef or kelp forest, the more intimate with it you become, and the more you realize how much there is still to learn.

After returning from Moz this past week, I took a few days off from my internship to participate in the second campaign of an ongoing bio-acoustics project in Cabrera National Park.  This same project brought me to Spain in February, and this campaign included picking up the Ecological Acoustic Recorder (EAR) that we dropped off in February and diving to collect marine invertebrates (bichos, in Spanish biologist speak).

We dove while the bio-acoustics experts calibrated the EAR for redeployment.  Great diving.  The visibility was insane (30m+), and the stone structures underwater were incredible.  The sea is a curious person’s dream world: nudibranchs, sea caterpillars, and all sorts of algae.  The highlight was the biggest school of barracuda I’ve ever seen.  And I got to know perfect strangers better in five days than I could have through most other experiences.  Thanks to SCUBA language.

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