Included in our all-inclusive stay at the Medhufushi Island Resort in the Maldives were free snorkelling and line-fishing excursions. Since the house reef was bleached in the El Nino event in 1998, it wasn’t exactly teeming with sea life.
Instead, the resort offered free snorkelling trips to a thriving and colourful coral reef a short boat ride away. Not being a very strong swimmer, I was nervous. It was the first time in my life going snorkelling. I hoped I wouldn’t panic, as I tend to when I’m underwater or short of breath.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the experience quite enjoyable, once I relaxed and let myself float on the surface. I did hang on to the rope anchoring the boat as long as I could until I felt brave enough to slip away into the water without anything to hold on to.
Of course, we wore life jackets, so there was no chance of sinking. I explored the coral reef, keeping one eye on my child who was swimming a few feet away.
The corals were drenched in colour and swarming with little fish darting in and out of the crevices while shimmering blue tang fish (Paracanthurus hepatus) swam among the branches leisurely. Blue tangs became famous thanks to the Pixar movie, Finding Dory.
The experience left me feeling mildly exhilarated and slightly giddy. I was sad when it came time to leave.
I wasn’t very excited about the line-fishing excursion since I wasn’t planning to catch any fish myself. Even though I eat fish, the sight of a dying fish, leaping and flopping about in its death throes, does not induce hunger pangs in me. On the contrary, it makes me lose my appetite altogether.
If you’re vegan, you would commiserate and wonder why I’m not vegan too. That’s because I went cold-turkey and failed miserably. So I decided to take baby steps on my journey to veganism, cutting down on dairy and poultry while increasing my intake of veggies.
I went along with the general sentiment on our line-fishing excursion, even getting caught up in the excitement when my child snagged a couple of fish – a red snapper and a grouper.
We watched the sun sink into the ocean while the boat rocked gently on the waves, lines in the water. The last orange rays vanished over the horizon and a curtain of darkness descended over the sea. Distant lights from the villages and resorts shone like little diamonds in the endless, velvety blackness.
One of our group hauled in a monster specimen of a fish, whose size caused a great deal of excitement. As the boat made its way back from the fishing grounds, I saw a flash of light leap above the water and then vanish beneath the waves. For a moment, I thought I was imagining it. But there it was again… and again.
I realised we were watching glowing, flying fish darting above the waves like little sprites. I ran my fingers in the waters below the boat and saw glittering spots of bioluminescence where the tips of my fingers agitated the waters (just like in the video below).
It reminded me of this scene from Life of Pi.
Unfortunately, we never did go snorkelling again, and I deeply regretted not being able to take underwater photos or decent low-light images on my Maldives vacation.
Once I got back, I bought myself a NETGEN Sports Action Camera (no longer available on Amazon), the poor cousin of the GoPro Hero5. The next time I need to take underwater or action photos, at least I’ll be prepared.