You and another, walk down the ladder till the water reaches your shoulders. Our attentive crew places the helmet on your shoulders, and down we go. If the wiggling of the jaw does not work, then simply reach up in your helmet, hold your nose, and blow gently to clear your ears. If you are unsure or if it is a bit choppy, you are encouraged to hustle without delay on the ladder, which will be moving with the boat. Once on the bottom, whatever feelings of anxiety you had disappear as you realize: Yes! This is cool… no problem. Hey! This is fun.
First we all hang on to the Grab-Bar so we stay in a close group.
Using the message baton I first identify some of the living creatures. There are also messages on the food jar and on my helmet. There is very little to remember and communication is quite easy. Then, while you are kneeling on the sand I take photos and videos. All with fish in the photo, some with you actually holding fish. The reef is usually in the background. Then we stand and walk to the first kneeling down spot, facing the reef. The correct way to walk is with your head and shoulders upright and your knees bent. There is a magnification effect due to the window being flat. You will be encouraged to come closer than you think you should and then kneel softly, disturbing the sand as little as possible. More life is identified and passed around. Then we will stand, walk and kneel at a couple more stops. We will demonstrate the ‘breathing’ of the sponge by releasing sand in the flow of water exiting the sponge. You will see the feeding of the corals, and be shown which corals are awake and which are asleep. We will feed an anemone or two along the way and poke with various invertebrates.
My father Bronson Hartley is the original ‘Fish Whisperer’. His idea (obvious enough) is to make friends with the fish. You single out one fish and establish a relationship, over time, so that they trust you. Fish whispering secret here…You can not make friends with the group. If you broadcast food indiscriminately you will only arouse competition, aggression and mob behavior. You can only make friends with individuals.
We walk along the edge of a horse shoe shaped area with our backs to the boat. Click here to see our dive site. Our boat is actually visible from orbit. The sandy area surrounded by reefs is called Halfway Flat. Our diving area is the sandy area just below below the stern of the boat. Upon return to the boat we have one last fondle with the fish and the 30 minute dive is over. Divers go up the same way they came down-using the ladder. High tide does require a bit of an effortless moon jump…Lots of fun!