Muck Dives

I did two dives this morning, me and the Finns, since Rachel continues to have an ear infection.

Muck dives are not pretty dives — they’re hunt and discover dives. Mostly they’re in sand or gravel, and there’s little coral and few plants, but what you look for are the few odd creatures that show themselves if you’re patient, if you’re lucky.

Like this almost buried manta shrimp.

manta shrimp

Or this snake eel.

snake eel 2

I found muck dives kind of interesting the first couple of times I did them, but I think I’m not really that kind of diver. I don’t like the ubiquitous, creepy little garden eels that wave at you, and it feels bleak. Another woman here agrees — “I’m risking my LIFE,” she said. “I want to see pretty things!”

Or maybe it just wasn’t the right day for me. After a couple of days of greater ease, everything felt tight and hard today. Christmas, PMS, nearing the time that I’m going to have to contend with my now ex on a fairly arduous journey home. Everything just felt… hard.

I’m trying to breathe through it, feel the complexity of all the stories at play here, know that really, both Finch and I are trying to find deep connection in our own, different ways, find compassion for myself and others, be very very conscious and aware that there are a lot of people in the world experiencing much greater sorrow and loss than I am right now. I’m in a bleeding dive resort in the Philippines with everything I could possibly want at my fingertips. I am blessed, and I know that. I’m just feeling a bit tattered, but I find that diving with it, like running with sadness or anger, can really fill the well with whatever emotion is most present.

Today that emotion was pretty eely.

white eyed moray 2
(white eyed moray, to be precise)

One of the things you learn early in diving training is that your regulator stays in your mouth at all times, and that you can do anything in a regulator — cough, burp, laugh, vomit. I have gradually got a lot more comfortable with the notion that using a reg isn’t like sucking air through a straw, which is how I imagined it — but really, it sort of creates a little pocket of air around your mouth. It’s comforting to cough and realized you’re not going to die. I learned today that you can *cry* in a regulator. The mask makes it a tad hard to wipe your nose, though.

Even as I type this, it feels like absurd self-dramatizing. It was a relationship that had an expiry date; people do their best; get over yourself. I hold all of that to be true, and the overlay of decades of Christmas expectations is hard not to engage with, the desire to feel cherished and to cherish most foregrounded then.

I got tired of being underwater at about the 40 minute point on both dives, was ready to be done. But the relational aspect of diving kicked in, and I realized there was no way I could propel the Finns out of the water early, just on my own restlessness, especially on the second dive, which was their last. So I sat with it, just observed how I was feeling, kept my eyes open.

In the last 5 minutes on the first dive, we were rewarded with a Flamboyant Cuttlefish.

(12.25 – 360)

They’re wee and cute and amazing.

On the second dive, one of the Finns requested an octopus. Sure enough, our divemaster Wing found us a wonderpus.


I didn’t realize how wondrous it was until Rachel exclaimed when I showed her the photo. It takes a lot to impress her, with her fancy camera and 333+ dives.

One flamboyant cuttlefish, one wonderpus, and one visit to the singapore airlines site to change my seat: I surface, breathe again.


2 thoughts on “Muck Dives

  1. This is less than poetic, but it does look like one of those tests they give you in childhood to check for colour-blindness. (Scott would likely have failed)
    Your photographs are beautiful. I am green with envy.

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