As I continue to work on my final presentation for the Marine Habitat Restoration program, I really wanted to include videos and photos of Florida’s marine habitat.
As visual and kinesthetic learner, this was the perfect opportunity for me to experience unfamiliar territory. I reached out to Timothy Jones from DEP, to see if this was possible. Luckily for me, he took time out of his busy schedule to take me to St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve to look for coral and sponges.
I brought everything I needed, overpacked as usual, including my underwater camera- Ricoh WG-20. I had this camera for years. It’s an excellent camera for horseshoe crab monitoring and to take video while snorkeling. (To let you know, the latest one is a WG-70.)
I was ready to take some underwater video from the side of the boat of the clear, beautiful marine landscape just after Tim spotted a sea turtle, when I pushed the button to turn it on, my camera was dead.
While visualizing throwing a temper tantrum in my head, I continue to keep my pose. I sucked in my disappointment because there was nothing I could do but say to myself, it’s the experience that’s important. (Please, do not ever say that to a nature photographer! Their response might not be so pretty.)
We stopped at a location just west of the preserve to put on our gear. I pulled out my Walmart special snorkel kit I bought years ago, hoping that this wasn’t going to be an issue. Well, of course, it is. I couldn’t unzip the zippers. Seriously is nature telling me that I shouldn’t experience marine habitats because the uplands might get upset?
Thankfully, Tim got the zipper to work, and we were ready to go. I don’t know if I could have handle another disappointment-on my part.
Yes, I was a little nervous at first, but if the day was going to continue to be as it was, I decided to jump in fast so I could just get it over with.
My first look through the goggles was like, HOLY COW! What did I just swim into? This view is incredible. This is amazing. It was so quiet, the water felt like silk around my skin. Why haven’t I seen this before? Oh, what is that? What type of fish is that? And hundreds of more questions were flooding my brain.
As I was dog-paddling just below the water’s surface, this world, this underwater world, is truly magical. Atlantic Spadefish were shoaling in front of me, and I could almost touch them. Coral and sponges were plentiful as if they were placed ever so elegantly throughout the seabed, and nestled just beneath the top layers of an aquatic pit was a Nurse shark resting peacefully. (Later, to find out, three others were swimming around us.)
Experiencing all of this and not to be able to take photos or videos of what I am witnessing right in front of me, I tried really hard to hold back my tears. I wanted so much to capture these moments to share with my husband.
Then my snorkeling mask began to leak and it was time for me to just accept this day as it was.
But this is a good thing. I am intrigued and curious, and those who know me know that this is not the end of my explorations into marine habitats.
Although my heart will always be in the uplands; it’s big enough to share.
Have fun and be safe in your travels.