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I could feel how hard the bench was when I finally put all my weight down on the long white wooden board. The smell of salt filled the atmosphere as I moved with the bench, back and forth. I was pretty used to the motion, the boat had been moving for several minutes now, and the shore looked far away, as if it were on the horizon. On my right, my sister was jumping with excitement. Our very first snorkeling experience was about to take place, and in what better place than Hawaii?

The other people on the boat looked fairly relaxed, as if they lived here and snorkeled all the time. I have always snorkeled in a pool where the clear blue water extends for ten feet, and I would watch the small peel vacuum go up and down the patterned walls, sucking up unwanted dirt and anything else that was a violation of cleanliness. But this was different. This was open water, where anything big and harmful could come out of nowhere and eat me in one big, painful bite.

The cabin was overcrowding with people enjoying the boat ride in the clear aqua color of Hawaii’s wonderful ocean. It was starting to smell of perspiration and salt, so onward it was for me. I rose to my feet, only to be knocked back down again from the boats unnatural motion. After the range of waves passed, I tried again with success to move to the front of the boat and onto the white weaved netting that was pulled tight on either side of the strong metal poles extending from the boat. As I stepped onto the netting, a powerful wave knocked me once again off my feet and onto my butt. I decided to stay in my forced position and just enjoy the cold salty sea against my face.

The time must have gotten away from me because it seemed like 30 seconds after I sat down that the captain grabbed the loud speaker. “All right! It’s that time. We are halfway there, so it’s time to suit up! Over by Kevin you will find a large closet that has wet suits, goggles and breathing tubes. And if you need prescription goggles, you should’ve brought your own because we don’t have any!” The line started immediately and was already a good length when I was able to squeeze in with my sister, so I had a lot of time to pick out which color wet suite I was going to get. I picked purple. The suite slid onto my body with no trouble at all, like we were made to be together. Blue goggles and breathing tubes were all that were left of the small goggles when I went for them. Beside the closet was a small stack of black and yellow flippers. The first ones were scratched and peeled and cut to where they were unappealing to the eye. I threw those aside and looked for ones that were my size that didn’t look as if they came out of a meat shredder. Finally, the second to last on the bottom, were the perfect ones. I grabbed the heavy equipment and headed for the white boat bench once again. My dad had to help me with attaching the breathing tube to the goggles, and secure my flippers. But pretty soon, I looked as if I were ready to live underwater for the rest of my life. I had my hair pulled back into a tight pony-tail, and I could barely move in the thick violet suite, but I was ready. Ready to face the wild blue, green, yellow, red, purple, orange, and turquoise sea. Yes I was going to do it, I was going to walk right into the water and say, “I shall conquer you!” I was going to-



My sister pulled me out of my dazed expression and dragged me to the edge of the boat where she pointed out the beautiful coral reef rushing past us. It went so fast, I couldn’t even see it, but the boat was gradually slowing down anyway. Then the boat came to an abrupt stop. The whole congregation went lurching forward, and some onto their faces. Again, the captain was talking through his microphone. “Whoo-hoo! Who’s ready to snorkel? YEAH! Alrighty then, Sorry to be picking on you Kevin, but could you lower the ramp into the water. Yeah, just like that. Righto. Okay, just a quick word before my fellow amigos head out into the open water. I had a question about sharks, and just to let you know, the chances about encountering a dangerous shark is less than getting hit by lightning. But beware of some of the small jellyfish, and the squid. Please don’t touch any of the coral, because they might bite back….. Just kidding, but seriously, just pet the fish. Ok, everyone out of the boat and into the water!”

It was difficult to walk in the oversized heavy shoes, but I managed to make it to the edge of the boat, up the stairs and onto the ramp without tripping and falling on my face. The water surprised me though. Since it was Hawaii, I expected the water to be warm and nice, but it was freezing, even in the wet suite. Some other people were just wearing their bikinis and Speedos, and it made me wonder just how cold they were.

Just by glancing into the clear aquamarine water, it fascinated me within seconds. All colors you can imagine covered the reef in corals, fish and sand. I suddenly forgot that I was cold, or that I was afraid of the ocean. The small fish stayed close to the reef, but the bigger fish were more brave and came out to where the snorkelers were. A small squid passed my arm and looked at me in terror. I looked back at it with wonder. I suddenly wanted to touch it. So I did. Or I thought I did. I wasn’t sure. I touched something, but the squid was gone. I looked down and the rest of fish were scarce, each one looking for a place to hide, to get out of the way. Was I really that scary? My ears were underwater, so I just faintly heard the screaming that came from a woman above the water. I looked up quickly, and saw that the woman was pointing into the water. “SHARK!!” She was ghostly white and she could only seem to scream. My mother was close by, but hurried my sister back on the boat. I wanted to see the shark. I had never imagined I would have thought that, but I did. I wanted to see the shark. I stuck my face back into the water and scanned for the beast.

He was pretty easy to see. He was swimming slowly and relaxed, so he obviously wasn’t effected by the screaming woman. A shark about 2 meters long was roaming his territory of the reef. His skin was ashy grey and scratchy, almost as if it had been torn by something, and it had the same texture as the nasty flippers. His body waved in one graceful move, a tiger waiting to pounce, except this was a shark. The shark was surprisingly big to find at a reef, but it was there, and I was not scared. He passed right under me, and I did not even think about being scared. Not even once. I just watched in amazement as it swam out of sight. Not a wave of anxiety or uneasiness in me. I felt calm as if I were watching a silent movie. Too bad I didn’t have my water-proof camera with me. This would’ve been a good photo.





Since the fish didn’t come back out, I moved gradually towards the boat, spotting a green and yellow striped eel and a puffer fish on the way. I had spent enough time in the ocean for one day. It took a while to get up on the ramp, but I eventually got there. I was greeted by the rest of my family, with a worried expression. I was one of the last ones to get back onto the boat.

“So, what’d you think?”





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