In the life of a Divemaster Candidate - my first independent dive!
Every time you go for a dive, you are usually following someone - either the instructor or the dive master who are guiding the dive and showing you all the cool stuff to be seen. Of course you are new to the dive site so you happily follow and try to look around at the same time. And then enjoy the excitement when the guide shows you something cool... maybe a super tiny crab, a peacock mantis shrimp or if you are really lucky a shark!
Well, my diving history is pretty much the same - led by a dive guide, who also graciously signed my logbook. Even during my divemaster course most of the dives were either fun dives with divemasters leading or at the back of a student group assisting an instructor on some course or the other.
But then came the day of mapping a dive site. One of the tasks to be completed during the dive master training is to make a map of a dive site of our choice. Now this is not like making a map of streets - that gradually, after going there a number of times you know in your head and can put it onto paper. Here, you need to have compass headings, depth at various points and the interesting places at various depths so that people looking at the map know where to look for the cool stuff.
So armed with a compass, our dive computers and a slate and pencil, Anna and I (both of us were doing our Divemaster training at the same time) headed out to a dive site called Turtle heaven. As the name suggests, there are a few turtles here (most of the time). But just like all dive sites here in the Gilis, there is lots more to see than just the turtles (Yes, here we do say - just the turtles).
This was the first time that I was diving on my own with a buddy and nobody to lead us. You know that feeling you had when your parents let you go out with your friends for the first time without any parental supervision - when you were trusted with money to spend on yourself and felt oh-so-responsible and grown-up. Well, add that feeling to being in water on a lovely dive. And then multiply it by 5. Yes... I think that kind of sums up my excitement of diving unsupervised that day.
Both of us were equally excited - deciding the path around the dive site on our own, exploring along the way and writing down all the details we thought were important for the mapping. It started with a simple enough batfish (more species will be named now - get ready to google some images). We went down to 30m at the dive site and then started coming up towards the underwater pinnacle at the dive site.
That's when the fun of deciding where to go began. Deciding among ourselves which way to go and what to mark and all the while, looking for some cool stuff. The dive felt super short as it was ending soon after a whole bunch of turtles, pufferfish, nudibranchs, lion fish, moray eels and boxfish. Shortly after, we reached our safety stop (3 mins of waiting at 5 metres before coming back up to the surface).
And this was when I spotted a bright white ribbon eel - it was the most pretty pattern on an eel I had ever seen and I felt that twinkle of joy for spotting it. It was bright white, with a pattern in black and yellow lines along its edges. 3 minutes didn't feel long enough to watch the eel that was clearly bugged at being spotted by us humans but was least bothered about it at the same time.
Could not have asked for a better end for the dive! First independent dive and super cool animals that we found - What more can a diver ask for?
Here's to many more dives like that in the future!