Monday, October 22, 2012

Goal #235: Swim with the Manatees

If you want a remarkable experience, you really need to try swimming with the Manatees. There are only a few places in the world you can do that. My experience took place in Puerto Rico.

My brother Dan lived in Puerto Rico at the time and had a business teaching scuba classes. I went to visit him one summer and spend a few weeks with him. Within less than an hour after getting off the plan, I was at the ocean getting instruction on how to breathe using air tanks. Every day, for 2 weeks we went diving twice a day. It was GREAT! 

After a week of diving Dan decided he was going to take me to dive off a point down the coast. He told me that there was a shark that liked to swim around there, as well as a school of barracuda. They were both fish I need to watch carefully.

I was keeping a careful eye out for the shark when off in the distance I could see the dark outline of something very big. I tried to get Dan’s attention but he was out of my site. I could see there were several objects swimming to me quite fast and they were very BIG. I started swimming to where I had last seen Dan swimming in hopes that he might know what to do.

Within seconds I felt something very big brush up against me. By this time I was in a panic. I was thinking this was the shark Dan was telling me about and there were several of them, each bigger than I had expected. Within seconds they were heading back directly toward me. I had no idea what to do so I just watched as they came almost face to face and stopped only inches from me. Now I was close enough to see that these were not sharks, they were a pod of Manatees.

As soon as I knew I wasn’t going to be anyone’s lunch, I relaxed enough to see they wanted to play. I put my hand out to rub the back of the nearest one and that was it. In no time at all, they were all pushing themselves against me, apparently wanting to see what this white skinny thing was doing in their waters.

I had a wonderful time playing with each of them. The more I played with them the more they wanted to play. The young ones didn’t waste a minute. They were all over me. One of them came face to face to me, apparently wanting to see what I looked like. I have to admit, as gentle and playful as Manatees are, they are really ugly. I’m sure they must have thought the same of me.

We played together for awhile and then they just disappeared almost as quickly as they appeared. I never saw them again during those last few days I had left to dive. I finally found Dan off in the distance. He had seen them coming toward me and knew I was in no danger. He just wanted me to have the experience by myself and that’s why he didn’t come to my rescue when I thought I was going to be some shark’s lunch. What a remarkable experience it was to play with the Manatees and to have them accept me so willingly. This was an experience I will never forget.   

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