Monday, November 22, 2004
  oceanwatch fish id, 11/21
ok, so the thought of writing about sunday's dive gets me a bit grumpy, but here goes..
sunday eddie & i went to a class offered by oceanwatch at the nova university center at john u. lloyd state park. there were two other people present, ron, and a girl named toni, who i later figured out to be a scubaboard member. her "scubaboard" t-shirt was probably my biggest clue. oceanwatch's rose gave us an introduction to the organization and program, then started us on our fish lesson, which concentrated on grunts and snappers. i'm definitely an animal lover, but fish are typically "pretty" or "goofy-looking" and that's as far as i can distinguish. it was great to learn about the differences between this grunt and that grunt.. just really looking at the fish makes a big difference.
the class went from 9:30(ish) until noon, at which time we adjourned to the local publix where we got yummy subs and went off to meet our boat, the ibis. coincidentally, it's the same boat i was certified on.. and therefore one-half of the dive boats i've been on in my entire life.
after eating in the car and somehow changing into my bathing suit behind a towel, we boarded the boat and met lauren, our group's second fish expert. then, we were out on the water...

a not-at-all accurate depiction of sunday's waters

let's see.. first tank. what embarassing thing happened during this leg of the trip? ahh yes! i think our bottom time was planned to be around 50 minutes.. we were to head up when the first of our six divers hit 1000 psi. which i did, after about 20 minutes. considering my air consumption has been average so far, this completely freaked me out in the water. i alerted ed and rose to my air-depleting condition and then hung about, not sure what was going to happen.. as i watched my air go to 700 and dip ever lower.. poor ed and rose had to come up with me, wasting the air left in their tanks and cutting a dive in half. on top of that, i was to follow the line up with ed and rose behind me.. i was trying.. but rose was right behind me.. if i kicked my fins, i felt like i was kicking her. if i didn't, i wasn't moving up. i still don't know what i should've done. pulled myself on the line? would that have dragged the flag down? i felt awful and apologized to rose when we surfaced.. she said it was okay but i felt like a huge asshole.
on the bright side, i did manage to ID a few fish. and a moray eel, although he was laying on his side looking not-quite-right.
so we're on the boat again. some of the students never made it into the water; despite the fact the seas were pretty calm, they got sick. one looked just like larry the cable guy, complete with southern drawl. "poor things," i thought, not knowing i'd be joining them soon.. but then i gagged. next thing, i'm running for the trash can. then made a dash for the side of the boat. i've only been seasick once before, but it was baaad.. so i immediately started crying (better said: bawling) thinking it'd be like that. poor ed, dealing with his crying-in-public girlfriend. luckily, after a few minutes of purging, i felt up to getting in the water for our second dive.


this time, i was sans pencil.. little bastard got away from me, despite the velcro.. and without making notes, i felt pretty useless as a fish identifier, so went back to my usual admiring-the-seascape routine. i saw a little puffer and figured i should try to stop hovering 10 feet above everything i want to look at.. and was proud to get down in its cute little face, following it around the reef.
soon after, however, i started to float up.. (((FLASHBACK FROM CERT. DIVE))).. i managed to get my shit together and made it back down, where ed was making a gesture that i took quite clearly to mean, "WTF?!" ruh-roh.
the group was beginning to surface when i made it down, so we sloooowly went to the surface. slowly slowly.
by this time, i'm feeling like a huge asshole in about 10 ways (i kicked rose in the face, got sick, ruined 2 divers' dives, STARTED TO FLOAT, etc.) and just trying to get my equipment undone without crying. and then the seasickness returned. the messed-up part was that i didn't even feel sick.. i just had to puke. the seas weren't even rough! i've been out in rougher and been fine! blah.
thank god ed was there, giving me pats on the back and comforting words (ie "aww, my poor baby" and "puker!"). jerk. :)
ed and i had a talk when motoring back in about me and my seeming inability to stay with the group.. which, i swear, i hadn't really even noticed. which is even worse! i make sure i have wetsuits nearby and go about my business. i thought it was okay.. but that's just me not thinking, i guess. me too busy looking at puppy-dog fish to be as aware as i should be. apparently i had messed up in a way i hadn't even realized - ON TOP OF ALL THE WAYS I HAD REALIZED, and by the time we got to the car, i was crying. ed didn't understand why, so i explained: maybe i'm just too fucking airheaded for this, ya know? i love seeing all this amazing life under the water, but in doing so, i'm this huge jerk to people just by being me.. not knowing what to do in certain circumstances.. being oblivious in others.. i dunno.. everything was fine when it was just me & ed in key largo, but i left sunday feeling like complete shit. ed gave me a pep talk, explaining that i was new and was off to a great start, but i still just felt like diving -- despite the fact that i loved it -- maybe just wasn't something i was going to be able to do. a frown and a sniffle accompanied me for the rest of the evening.
i've had time to relax about it, to think some and resolve to be better.. and am anxious to get back out there, to replace that experience of my last time diving with something involving a bit less messing up, pissing people off, and having to have ed answer for me during roll call because i was too involved with crying/puking off the side of the boat.
regardless, sunday shook me up pretty bad.. if anyone has any advice here, i'd greatly appreciate it. i feel like i'm a burden on a dive.. and maybe all new people are.. but that makes me feel awful.
btw - i'm in wisconsin right now and it's 19 degrees outside. 19. degrees. wtf?
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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