Imagine deepest indigo waters that slowly shift into a brilliant turquoise and then a bright emerald green, topped with sun sparkles. Now add a dramatic rock stubbornly receiving the incoming blows of the Indian Ocean, and you have an image of Kisite island and its surrounding lagoon, all part of the Kisite-Mpunguti marine park.
While skimming through the water on our research boat, the space above the waves seems endless. A quick dip under the surface reveals quite another dimension: our world may feel empty but underneath the waves another world reigns. A snorkel, mask, and flippers allow us to briefly visit this brilliant blue place. In addition to dolphins and whales, in the marine project at Shimoni we also look for other large marine animals such as turtles, rays, and reef sharks. Staring eye to eye with a giant green turtle is a highlight, but the underwater camera runs hot when reef fish surprise us with glimpses into their everyday life.
Just yesterday I learned a beauty secret of the deep when bumping into a large pufferfish: it was receiving a morning facial treatment by little fish carefully cleaning the skin. Swimming in the middle of a shoal of hundreds of little gem-like fish is just as fantastic as playing hide and seek with a moray eel peeking from its den.
Sometimes, just sometimes we glimpse the wonders of the underwater world above the surface, too. The first time I saw a flying fish masterly skim the waves for dozens of meters I thought I had spotted a giant dragonfly. It was being chased by a larger fish, also surfing the air above the waves. Who knows, maybe the next step in fish evolution is reaching for the skies – quite literally?
(Originally posted in the GVI Kenya blog)
(Mkwiro, Kenya; September 2013)