In this issue longtime contributor Bruce Watkins shares his experience of living a diver’s dream of swimming with a humpback whale mother and calf off the island pinnacle of Roca Partida in Mexico’s Revillagigedo archipelago. Only a day later Bruce and his dive buddies witnessed the violence and reality of nature in its raw, wild state. It is a good read, perhaps a tough read, as it will likely evoke a range of emotions amongst readers.
I feel certain that some readers will respond with pangs of jealousy. Okay, I’ll confess, I did. Other readers will likely cringe as there is another side to Bruce’s story, and that is witnessing part of nature that for some is very difficult to watch. Like all creatures, killer whales need to eat, and predation is not pretty, especially if you have fallen in love with the prey.
Bruce’s rare experiences included a stroke of luck. Many of our more exciting, and more insightful experiences do. And the only way to enjoy that kind of luck, no matter how you feel about Bruce’s experiences, is to get out there and dive. You can try to be smart about when and where you dive, but in the end nothing gives you a better chance to truly learn about nature, from her beauty to what is sometimes hard to witness, than time on and in the water. There are no guarantees, but here’s one certainty — you have to put yourself out there.
While Bruce’s adventure took place at a tiny oasis in the middle of the vast expanse of the eastern Pacific, the truth is you don’t have to leave California to have some extraordinary experiences. I know this from personal experience. When I think about some exceptional moments that I have enjoyed in California they include dives with California gray whales, swimming with basking sharks, and witnessing uncountable numbers of squid and watching them mate in the middle of a winter night. I have seen ocean sunfish, yellowtail and schools of tuna gather under drifting kelp paddies, and once a pod of killer whales swam right below me. It was thrilling! I have witnessed the awe-inspiring beauty of our open ocean sharks. And like so many California divers, I have enjoyed the beauty of a kelp forest on a spectacular day. That’s a sight missed by a lot of divers.
Our waters are filled with so many magnificent sights to be enjoyed. The bottom line is that if you want to see what Mother Nature has to share, the only way to do it is to get out there and dive. If you need a little help arranging your next dive, just drop into your favorite dive center. You just never know what you’ll see!