Yesterday morning we did our last two re-certification dives. They were pretty similar to the first two dives with ten minutes of exercises followed by thirty minutes of exploration. The first dive was at a the wreck of a barge that was sunk on purpose eleven years ago to create a habitat for fish and coral. Now it is covered in marine life. Unfortunately the giant nurse shark, George, who lives under the barge wasn’t home. After our two dives we had completed the fun part of the course but still had to spend the afternoon doing more classes, quizzes and the final test. One of us barely passed her test by three percent but I’m not going to say who. Mom has now been certified twice as a scuba diver and I have been certified by two different agencies. We are now double scuba divers, which is way cooler than a double lawyer but not quite as cool as a double forward air controller.
Today we put our newly minted certifications to work on a pair morning dives. We saw the most marine life today by far. We saw an eel, two sting rays, a couple of cow fish, a trumpet fish but the coolest animal was easily the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish is in the same family as the squid and octopus but I’m pretty sure that they are actually alien spies that are collecting information and telepathically sending it back to the mother ship. They have tentacles in the front of their bodies which they hold together so they look like a single spike. The back half of their body is an almond shaped pod that has two opaque appendages that aren’t quite wings and aren’t quite fins. The whole time we looked at the cuttlefish it’s appendages were undulating. It looked perfectly comfortable hovering, swimming backward and forward. In fact I’m still not sure which way a cuttlefish would consider forward or backward. Every other fish that we looked at would make a panicked dash for the nearest coral and then stare out at us with glassy unintelligent eyes but not the cuttlefish. Even though it was only a foot long and it was surrounded by seven loud giant creatures, it confidently hovered in place, moving backward and forward or was it forward and backward, looking back at us with large intelligent eyes. As it was watching us watching it, it changed colors from purple and grey to white, purple and tan. It was one of the coolest sea creatures I have ever seen.
Cuttlefish are among the most intelligent invertebrates. They have one of the highest ratios of brain to body size. They have excellent eye sight and can communicate to each other by changing the color of their body. Their blood is blueish green because they use copper instead of iron to transport oxygen. Once again, they are aliens.
One of the many great things about meeting people from all over the world is hearing a wide variety of accents. Australian accents are great but if you ask an Australian to say “Throw another shrimp on the barbie.” They will tell you that it should actually be “Throw another prawn on the barbie.” Because nobody calls them shrimp in Australia. Then they will get a little self conscious about their accent. Asking them to say “That’s not a knife, this is a knife.” doesn’t help the situation.
We also met a French girl who had been working in Panama city. Her English was excellent and she also spoke Spanish. She told us that she worked with a guy from Mississippi who had never left the state until he came to Panama. Apparently he stuck out like a sore thumb and had a hard time doing anything. Also she couldn’t understand anything he said because his accent was so thick. I love that making fun of Mississippians is not just an American hobby; it is an international one.