Snorkelling has got to be one of the most underappreciated activities going. First of all, there isn’t a more relaxing hobby outside of say, sleeping, once you get the mask, snorkel and fins sorted out. There are a series of irksome things that can be wrong with these items. The mask can get too foggy or leak, the snorkel can leak or be malpositioned allowing water to enter through the top, and the fins can be ill-fitted causing all sorts of foot related problems. I suppose it’s a good argument, like with any hobby, for owning your own stuff. While we’re on the subject, though, long hair. Why didn’t anyone tell me how utterly incompatible long hair and oceans are? It gets snarled and tangled and the mask keeps trying to rip it out. I’ve got one foot in the barbershop after this, I tell you. Shaved hair is the best for swimming, tried and true. Once you get all your equipment dialed in, you can snorkel for hours.
Time, for me, passes faster from behind the snork than it does on land. To be clear, I am talking about the ocean, of course; I don’t expect pond snorkeling would be immensely satisfying with it’s scum and brown fish. I’d imagine it would be more than a little unnerving, too, with so much unknown lurking beyond the murk.
We just got back from a swim. We have been in the water 40% of our waking hours since arriving at Palau Tioman. Today we are trying to take a UV break but still managed to get out in the water, maybe just seven times. It’s too irresistible to sit on the porch of our cottage with that big salty swimming pool of a front yard beckoning all the while.
We swam down to the end of the beach, just under a mile away, to see what is going on with the Juara turtle project. They didn’t have a lot to say about babies, but they were currently recuperating an older fellow of 200lbs who’d fallen victim to a speed boat propeller. The outlook seemed fairly grim according to the volunteer, although he self admittedly wasn’t all that informed and identified the center as more of a hostel/turtle facility. By the looks of the place, it leaned very far toward the hostel side of things. We read some of the signs posted about, explaining how the depletion of Tioman’s turtles (80% in 10 years) is primarily linked to the foolishness of humans with our propensity toward littering plastic trash and our undisciplined egg theivery. Anyway, I’m all for getting more turtles out there, and I’d love to be able to spot some more sealife. Fish alone can be so mundane, you know?
Back to snorkelling, though, as this is a post about the wild wonderful underwater world. What a fantastic activity!
In the ocean you’re totally bouyant, so you don’t need any particular skills or talents to keep afloat, really. You just don your mask and peer down and take in all the colors which I’m sure don’t exist on land. You kind of gently push your weightless body along and become a part of the scene. It is THE best 3D nature show ever! You see flat mauve fan shaped spiky corals with white tips, gerkin green brain corals with chartreuse sulci, chocolatey smooth cauliflower shaped coral with glowing purple edges! And then there are the fish, too many to count, twinkling insatiably in the sunlight. Purple bodies with iridescent backbones, yellows with white tails and black stripes, teals and magentas! Dark purple black sea slugs withbtiny blue spots. Terrifying uchins with their beady blue eyes. Orangies with white stripes resembling, but not to be mistaken for clown fish. Clown fish. Dots and stripes everywhere, with too much variety to ever bore a person. And all of this immersed in a cool refreshing and calming turquoise background. So many fish swimming mere feet away that the temptation to reach out and grab one of them is simply irrepressible! Thankfully it never works. They always get away. I don’t know what I’d do if I grabbed one too hard and felt the sides of his body compress a little bit between my fingers. It would worry me and I don’t think I’d like it. I guess experience has taught me that they always get away, which is why I do it. The snorkel soundtrack is very simple-your Darth Vadery breath and a constant gentle crackling. I don’t know what the source of the crackle is, maybe some microbubbles popping continually or less likely, I think, some pressure change inside the ear. Not sure, but that’s what it sounds like to snorkel. I don’t think anyone should pass up an opportunity to snork. Or swim for that matter. Did I mention I like the water?!