Swimming with the Fishes (and Turtles)

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One of the things we did whilst in Barbados recently was go on a private catamaran cruise, where they take you out to go snorkelling.

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I’ve never been snorkelling before. It’s not as if Scotland provides many opportunities for that sort of thing. This was evidenced pretty clearly when I jumped into the water from the boat with the mouthpiece in, and quickly found a throat-full of sea water as it came rushing down the air pipe.

Smart move.

Additional protip: Make sure your buoyancy aid is tightened up properly before getting in the water; it avoids much flapping about like an eejit. Also try to avoid being in the same group as a Venezuelan named Miguel who swims as if he was born in the ocean.

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The fish were pretty amazing.

I had bought a Lomo Krab underwater casing for my 35mm LC-A cheap on eBay, just for this trip. Underwater pictures always look impressive, and I wanted to see what I could manage to get.

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Overall, the underwater pictures came out not too terribly. The photos that Miguel got on his digital compact were pretty amazing in comparison, but then again, considering that I was splashing around wildly trying to catch my breath and shooting blindly, these do the job. That said, the Krab case is really probably more useful as a general protective shell for when you’re at the beach or ontop of the water than it is in this sort of scenario.

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The guys that took us out had some sort of food to attract the fish so that they would all come and surround us whilst we were exploring, which was pretty amazing – especially since the water was so clear and blue.

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Seeing them up that close up was unreal. If you slowly swam along near the surface they would literally come within centimetres of your face, getting a real good look before darting away at the last second. I think the ones with the weird long faces were my favourite – they were fearless.

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Part of the trip was diving down to see various shipwrecks. It was surprising how close they were to the shore of the beach, and how relatively shallow the water was. They did say the tide had carried them close over time though.

One of the stories involved some French sailors who were stationed in Barbados during some war or another. They decided (unsurprisingly) that they’d rather stay there than go back to the army, and so purposefully sank their own boat to make it look like they’d been sabotaged. They were found out, and ended up in jail. Gutted.

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The coolest bit about the whole thing was getting to see sea turtles up close.

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Whilst these beasts might be slow on land, under the water they really are majestic creatures – sailing along gracefully, opening their mouths up to let in some food, and every now and then going up to the surface (for air?).

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They really are amazing.

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