When I swim in the ocean I often don’t make sure my goggles are crystal clear. I wear them to protect my eyes from the salt and be able to see where the shore is when I get my face out of the water, but sometimes I don’t want to see what is underneath me. I’ve spotted sharks, barracudas, and sting rays beneath me. None of these vistas made me too comfortable in continuing my swim.
Last week I borrowed some snorkeling gear from a friend and we investigated what life was lurking off the coast of Key Biscayne. The snorkel took some getting used to. I hadn’t had one in my mouth since I was a kid and it was obtrusive and blistering to my mouth (please don’t read this sentence out of context).
Even stranger was relying on an apparatus to be able to breathe while underwater. Swimming’s been a big part of my life and I’m used to knowing my limits of how long I could go without surfacing for oxygen. It was difficult to change that line of thinking and accept I could stay underwater all day if I wanted to. So I kept floating on my back to readjust the mask and snorkel unnecessarily.
The sojourn began because my friend had been snorkeling the day before and a wealthy heiress enlisted his help to find a diamond earring she lost in the sea. My friend claimed it looked to be worth thousands of dollars so we spent a few minutes searching for it to no avail.
We then swam toward a wooden marker. Whenever something man made is dumped in the sea, coral grows all over it, and it becomes a reef for a ton of forms of life. All sorts of yellow and black striped fish were swimming around .
As we continued to swim north there were countless conchs. It’s conch mating season so don’t put those shells up to your ears to hear the ocean or you might have a critter humping the side of your face. We saw a sea urchin, starfish, and then we got to some plastic piping dumped in the ocean. Inside the debris lived a family of lobsters. Those suckers move fast.
As we headed back we saw the strangest of creatures. It was dark red and had front and hind legs which it used to walk along the ocean floor. It was lurking at the edge of the seaweed. My friend was poking at it with a stick to urge it to come out. I kept having flashbacks from Star Wars when what looked like a little alien creature came fully out of the crater it was revealed to be a massive monster. But this guy came out and was only about the size of a shoe.
We decided he must be really, really poisonous because unlike the lobsters that scurried away faster than your youth, this creature stuck around almost daring us to get close. The ugliest underwater femme fatale I ever did see.