Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Special Last Dive

Our last dive was special. Avi piloted Brian and me through the blue, down and down past a huge school of mackerel that followed us until we passed through 300 feet, when the faint glimmer of surface sun disappeared. From there on we were in the black perpetual night of the deep ocean. We slowed and finally stopped 10 feet above the bottom, with 1,000 feet of sea on top of us. If we were to step outside of our sub, there would be 1,617 pounds per square inch pressing on our bodies, and we would implode to the size of a pint of jello. Needless to say, we decided to stay inside the sub!

If I described SCUBA diving as flying on another planet, then looking out at the bottom at 1,000 feet was being in another galaxy. The bottom was granular sand punctuated by rocks. We saw a few red scorpion fish, and then, as Avi moved the sub toward a great wall of volcanic rock, an unworldly deep sea octopus slithered by, changing its color to a deep red of alarm.

Photographer Brian Skerry eerily lit in the DEEPSEE submarine at 1,000 feet below the surface.
(Top) Alan Dynner looks out on the deep sea ocean life of the Sea of Cortez.

Then we moved slowly up the wall, passing strange jelly fish. Suddenly we saw two long neon flashes from bioluminescent creatures. It happened too fast to identify them. As we ascended, there were more and more white deep sea sponges and yellow corals. At 500 feet the wall ended, and we sailed through the water column past jellies, a school of bait fish, and finally to the surface with the welcoming sun and bright blue sky. The deep is mysterious and wonderful, and I am thrilled to have visited this strange realm.

- Alan Dynner

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