Monday, June 9, 2008

Seawater and the Rapture of the Deep

Watching a whale devour a squid on TV the other night I wondered just what a feeling of health and vitality that whale must have, how charged it must be by a diet of raw living flesh and stinging saltwater. It must be a glorious feeling. I'm not tempted to go on some kind of raw food diet, but I am tempted to eat more raw food and drink more raw juice.

This weekend I experienced a moment of vitality and charge I still can't shake: my diving partner, Todd Olson, and I dropped 100 feet from a bouy in Hood Canal (Puget Sound, Washington), lashed a line to a cement block on the sea floor, and then ran the line down, down down a silty slope to 120 feet, then 130 feet, where breathing becomes harder and the delirium of nitrogen narcosis--what Jacques Cousteau famously called "the rapture of the deep" can start to make the world tilt strangely. Completely negatively bouyant, with my bouyancy vest deflated, I tramped downslope, as in the sketch above, while Todd followed a foot or so behind, completely blinded by the silt I was kicking up. When we turned around at 130 I had to haul myself up the line; air was running low and I didn't want to use it to inflate my vest. 'Batmanning' up the slope under the pressure so much dark seawater above was unbelievably exhilarating.

I'm writing something about this experience, now...but it'll take a little while.

Below, a sketch of moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), one of a cloud of these organisms we swam through on a different dive.

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