Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mythical beasties

"I don't believe in seahorses"

I've said it many times. Usually in a voice full of bitterness and resentment. I thought they were mythical creatures, like mermaids and sea-badgers, de profundis, dreamt up to temp potential aquaphiles to take that giant stride into the blue.

So when they told me yesterday that I might see a seahorse, I scoffed! "Two different species" they said, I mocked. "Look in the soft corals" they said, I bah'd!

But nevertheless I searched, spent the first 30 minutes or so head down in the corals before finally remembering that I don't believe in seahorses! They don't exist! There were six different species in Roatan [where I used to live] - I never saw one! Friends would come back from dives saying they'd seen so many... I would go to the same place and see nothing. Bah!

I tried experimentally doing some bah's through my regulator. I didn't really work but it made me feel better. I decided to look for reef fish instead. Two seconds later six brightly coloured butterfly fish cruised past. Ha! Much better.

Continued finning along, then out of the corner of my eye I saw a funny looking piece of coral... "that bit of coral looks just like a horses head" I mused to myself, "how odd." I actually kept going for a second, before the proverbial penny dropped. Then I back flipped for another look... "that bit of coral has a tail!"

I very carefully moved some of the soft coral to get a better look, the tiny seahorse quivered slightly and looked at me. I moved back a little, not wanting to frighten him. Oh my, he was a pretty little thing! Peachy orange, slightly mottled skin, delicate tail wrapped around a soft coral, maybe three inches from tip to toe. Very, very cute!

So I take it all back! Seahorses do exist! Tomorrow I'm not coming up till I've found a sea-badger.

NB. The following day I saw another seahorse, an even tinier black & white one, hiding under a rock. I also saw a sea-moth... don't even ask, I'm still a bit freaked out...

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