All I could see were black rocks surrounding a blue opening and I was confident that I would get through with ease. ‘Breathe in and out’, I remember the instructor signalling to me and off I swam.
I had jumped at the idea of diving through an underwater cave. Apparently, most people struggle because they can feel claustrophobic but being the adventurous person that I am, I knew I would be fine.
We had made our way from the shallow reefs filled with colourful coral to the cave a few meters below, and this was the moment I had been waiting for. The view itself was beautiful and I couldn’t help but take a quick picture with my underwater camera. The ocean has been my place of calm for as long as I can remember, and the moment I had started scuba diving, I had found my place of meditation. As I swam through that underwater cave, it quite easily became one of the best moments in my life. The words ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ seem to be fitting. I flowed through and on the other side was a diver waiting to greet me.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a special bond with the ocean. Perhaps it’s the sheer vastness of water in one place or perhaps it’s the feeling of calm as you hear the waves moving gracefully. There’s also the endless wildlife below the surface of the sea that we rarely encounter. This spot in Mozambique was particularly special because it lies on the very edge of the country and boasts spectacular life beneath the ocean surface, making it one of the best diving sites in the world.
After my cave adventure, I swam back to the reef with the other divers and saw some amazing nudibranchs, one of which looked like a snail. Having watched Finding Nemo as a child, to see two clownfish swimming in and around their anemone home was also incredible. As if the fish life wasn’t spectacular enough, I even had the opportunity to see two different species of moray eels popping out of their hidings. To be in one of the most pristine underwater locations in the world was absolutely amazing and scuba diving is the most incredible way to learn and understand the natural world below the surface of the sea. The noise from above is completely shut out and you are mesmerised by the turquoise blue ocean that surrounds you.
I had come to Mozambique with a few friends, but none of them were divers. We had made a plan to go snorkelling after I had gone scuba diving. As I was still in awe after my incredible dive, I sat with my friends explaining to them what I had just experienced. I knew it was something they had to experience themselves. As we took off on our snorkelling mission, we got word that some dolphins were swimming around. This was finally my chance to swim with dolphins (something that had been on my bucket list). The driver of the zodiac found a good spot to stop so that we could jump out and make our way to snorkel with the dolphins. The dolphins were a bit skittish because they had young ones with them, but we were fortunate to swim with a few. After returning to the boat, we made our way to a shallow reef. The diversity of fish was spectacular! Fish are such wonderful creatures to watch and as I watched them, I thought about how incredible their evolution in colour variations has shaped their way of life. Some are completely camouflaged while others are so brightly coloured. Soon it was time to head back and we all enjoyed a beautiful boat ride back to shore. We fell completely silent, listened to the sound of the ocean around us and the motor on the boat behind us. Interactions with the ocean often make you feel introspective.
My perfect day was accompanied by a perfect night. After an evening of socialising and having fun, I found a lovely spot on the far end of the beach and sat down alone. As I looked up at the sky filled with millions of stars and listened to the ocean in front of me, the noise of the people partying further down the beach seemed to fade away. In that moment of calm, I was extremely grateful to have experienced such a wonderful day. This was probably one of my favourite days in my life because I was so profoundly connected with nature and the universe in one location. I knew I would always have a lasting connection with this place!
- : I am a conservation biologist and researcher currently working for BirdLife South Africa, Save The Snakes and Wild Serve. My passion for wildlife and nature has led me to work with various conservation organisations which has ignited my interest in conservation technology, conservation communication and finding new ways to save species and their habitats. Having completed my Masters in ecology, environment and conservation, I have a strong interest in research, with a focus on herpetology and evolutionary biology. I also enjoy writing and photography to translate key conservation messages and sharing experiences.
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- : Visit my website if you're keen to hear about the work my organisations do, if you're interested in my work in herpetology and all the great conservation and travel stories that I share on my blog! You will always find something interesting on my site that reflects a part of me and how I want to contribute to the world.
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- : This is the first time this story has been published.