Astronauts report feeling awestruck and overwhelmed by the fragility and beauty of the Earth, when seen from the vastness of space. But if you’re an aquanaut, you can experience a similar feeling, too.
Click start to play today’s Crossword, where we dive to see ‘coral’ and other amazing undersea sights.
If you haven’t tried scuba diving yet, maybe 2024 is the year to do it. According to a March 2023 report in the National Geographic, here are some reasons to learn to dive and embrace the stillness of the deep:
1. You meet great people
Divers make for an eclectic group of people, from all walks of life. Doctors looking for an escape from their demanding jobs, dive guides who forego the lure of the rat race for a life spent close to the ocean, and engineers who fell in love with diving’s technical aspects, are just some of the people you may meet.
2. Sharks are not scary anymore
Divers are more afraid of not seeing any sharks, than actually spotting them. When you become familiar with their world, you realise that they are spectacular creatures to be around, and although often inquisitive, they give a wide berth to divers and tend to mind their own business. An abundance of sharks in an area often signals a healthy ecosystem, so their presence should be welcomed rather than shunned. It’s why the Galapagos Marine Reserve, which has some of the world’s biggest population of sharks, is also one of the most biologically diverse marine protected areas, home to nearly 3,000 species. But over the past 50 years, shark and ray populations have collapsed and declined by 70 per cent. When you’re diving, you know that it’s time to flip the script and view them as endangered, not dangerous.
3. You gain a unique perspective
Although our planet is called the Earth – from a Germanic word meaning ‘the ground’ – more than 70 per cent of its surface is covered by ocean. When you’re below the water, in a spectacular, otherworldly region, you spot schools of thousands of fish, bustling away. Cleaner shrimp remove parasites from waiting fish and yellow-lipped sea kraits disappear into a hole in the reef. Every marine inhabitant is busy, going about its daily routine, just as humans do. But too often, these coral cities are victims of pollution from human activity, choked by an overgrowth of algae or tangled in fishing lines. Plastic wrappers drift through water, and runoff turns the water turbid. Diving gives you an appreciation of the delicacy of life on Earth, and the interconnectedness of how what happens above ground affects what happens below the ocean’s surface. It changes your perspective, and even changes your behaviour, for the better.
4. You become an explorer
Diving makes you an explorer. With over 80 per cent of the world’s oceans still left uncharted, every dive becomes a new experience. Sometimes, when exploring, you end up pushing limits, journeying to the edge and beyond. But often, it’s just about slowing down and studying the world around you in minute detail. Both types of exploration are wondrous, and leave you wanting more.