20000 Leagues Under the Sea

An old brown van with rust leaking from under the paint on the wheel wells and what sounded like a muffler problem rolled into the Waitui Marina parking lot. A young, tall Brit jumped out and introduced himself as Mark, one of the dive instructors with KoroSun Divers. He said he had to pick up two other people on the way, and we rumbled into the street.

The other divers were David, from the world ARC who we had met in Niue, and a Spanish girl doing her Divemaster course who I had trouble understanding. We rode for 20 minute through the lush interior of the island, until finally pulling off onto a small bridge leading to a private island.

On the island, we wound our way through the jungle, past a few beachside villas, and back to the water until we arrived at the dive shop. The resort was beautiful and I was jealous of the guest’s picturesque accommodations. The most intriguing thing was a massive live aboard dive boat they salvaged from a storm and converted into a floating hotel.

We filled out our paperwork, met the owner, Colin, and threw our gear into the boat. One of the crew released the dock lines, and we headed into the ocean. The first dive was called Dreamhouse, named after someone’s dream house that was built on the point overlooking the reef, but since was abandoned and demolished. We listened to the briefing and eagerly put on our gear and jumped into the water. The gist of the briefing was stay above the instructors, you will be going deep, and there will be sharks.

The dive started normally, we descended along the mooring line to the reef 60 feet below. There were the usual tropical fish, a few grey reef sharks, and a school of massive barracuda. We could have had an amazing dive if we stayed there, but then we followed Colin over the reef and out to sea.

Colin on the coral reef.

We swam into the current with the reef fading into blue. Then there was just open ocean. Colin tapped his tank to get our attention. He pointed into the slightly darker blue and swam quickly down and forward. I was close on his heels, watching the dive computer depth gauge go from 20m to 28, 32, 35… I already was the deepest I had ever been when I saw at what he was pointing. A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks, which are endangered, swam 20 feet below us. There were at least 100 of them.

Sorry for the poor quality, there was little light.

We swam quickly to overtake them until I saw 39m on my dive computer. Colin was just below me, and said during the briefing as long as we stay above him we will be fine. I ascended to 37m and started to watch the show. A couple sharks broke off from the group, curious about what these big objects were that were chasing them. They slowly swam past while the rest of the group started to swirl under us. They got closer and almost surrounded us before retreating to the depths. Colin and I were ready to continue the chase, but someone in the group was getting low on air so we had to turn back to find the way to the reef.

Schooling hammerheads with the one on the right breaking off to say hi.

We were swimming for what seemed like hours with blue still on all sides. My dad showed me his air gauge and was down to 70 bar, the point which we were supposed to notify the guides and get back to the mooring for a safety stop. Nobody was looking at us and we were trying to get back anyway, so we continued. Then, he got down to 50 bar. I still had 90 bar left, so I thought worse case we would just share my tank on the safety stop. Just as I grabbed his gauge to see how much remained, one of the instructors gave us the ok sign, universal in diving for are you ok. We responded with the 50 bar sign, so she signaled for him join her and they broke off for a safety stop. I had enough air to continue, so I caught up to Colin and we dove the reef for another 15 minutes with one other diver. We saw yellow tail barracuda, white tip and gray reef sharks, beautiful colorful coral, and many large snapper and parrot fish.

The vibrant reef with a white tip shark.

That dive was the best dive of my life, bypassing the White Valley dive in Tahiti earlier in the trip. It was great to have another adventure after a slow two weeks, and diving the deep with hammerhead sharks was an experience I will never forget.

3 thoughts on “20000 Leagues Under the Sea

  1. Isn’t it great, Travis, when you feel you’ve had the “best dive in your life” earlier in your adventures, then you surpass that as you move onward in time and that gorgeous geography. I’m sure there are many more of these “bests” to come as you and your Dad keep us posted on your trip of a lifetime . . . be safe!!! — John Bacon

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