Silence. The quiet is loud; it encircles my arms, and binds my feet. The deafening silence consumes my mind. Then I spiral upwards and break through the surface. Muffled voices are amplified and my state of meditative insanity is broken. I shimmy into my wetsuit and tug on black rubber fins. We clean the foggy lenses of our masks with spit gathered in the corners of our mouths. Playfully, we push each other off the deck of the boat and chortle as the victim emerges, groaning and giggling, with the occasional shiver.
I gurgle underwater, and gag as the salty sea rushes into my snorkel. The ray lifts his tail, and gold clouds collect at the ocean floor. I search, my eyes sweeping across this blue oblivion. I sense movement and swirl around, careful not to provoke the creature. My heart pounds and I gape at the massive sting ray. His moves are fluid, while a thick layer of dark smooth skin shimmers. From head to tail, the beast is perhaps six feet long, floating silently and stealthily down below.
Trembling from the cold, we recount our findings, like little boys and girls telling an agonizingly long tale of our newest discovery.