This Wednesday I embarked on my first real dive adventure since my open water certification dive. I joined some of Rich Coast diving staff members and interns on a night dive to the dive site Tortuga. There was talk of White Tip Reef Sharks that might show up to hunt at the time of our dive. Having only dived in the Puget Sound in Washington State where the visibility is poor and the marine life is fairly sparse, I was full of nervous excitement anticipating what was to come. The scene was beautiful as we left Coco Beach; the sun was setting over the Pacific as our Capitan Jose sailed us off toward the horizon. We anchored at Tortuga and soon everyone was in the water. My nerves got the best of me and I lost my torch on entry. Thankfully a fellow diver let me use his spare and with that we began our descent. As a part of my advanced open water training, I had to navigate using underwater landmarks as well as with a compass during this dive. We began by doing this activity, which I didn’t do so well at. I was really excited to be under the water again and so amazed at all of the underwater activity that I got distracted very easily and threw myself off course.
From the navigation activity, we made our way to a wreck that also happens to be a favorite hangout for the sharks. The rest of our group went straight to the wreck while we did our navigation activity and got to see several sharks there, but the white tips cleared out before we joined up with them. Even though I missed the sharks, I was in awe of all of the marine life that I saw around the wreck. Schools of fish were passing by, paying no attention to our group at all while we watched with wide eyes. I saw an eel snuggled into a crop of rocks with his tail trailing out behind him and his mouth wide open, gaping at me. From this dive I got a taste of some of the marine life that the Pacific coast of Costa Rica has to offer, and it left me hungry for more.
Being a fairly inexperienced diver, one skill that I am working hard to master is buoyancy. After using a little more than half of my tank on the night dive, I had a very difficult time keeping myself from ascending. I ended up surfacing early because I was not able to get my buoyancy under control. My instructor and buddy joined me on the surface with reassuring words. I still felt awful for cutting their dive short and embarrassed for making such a serious mistake. After having some time to reflect on the experience, I feel that I learned a great lesson: I cannot just jump in and expect to be perfect. This sport takes great effort, concentration, and most of all, practice. I have a lot more learning ahead of me, and with each dive I hope to improve my skills until the ocean becomes more comfortable to me than land.