"No, as long as you are medically fit" clarified the coordinator at www.Scubaluv.in -- the diving shop integral to our Resort at Havelock. She went on to explain that they are very strict about the medical protocol. The diver has to self certify a host of questions in a two-page format. For those not familiar, SCUBA stands for self contained underwater breathing apparatus.
Out of 26 FFA veterans and spouses (click here for what is FFA?), five decided to take a dive. These five included Debarati-- the only lady in the team. After an early morning shake up, we donned the diving suits. Smiles writ large on our faces, we carried our flippers to the diving area. From L-R: Swapan Banerjee, Debarati Banerjee, Gian Prakash(Gipy), Harsh (Ghumakkad) and Arun Dhupar.
The beach was familiar because we all had enjoyed a dip-cum-splash in high tide two days ago (click here for picture story).
But in low tide, bare rocks now surfaced, the beach looked more like moon-surface.
Our briefing-cum-training commenced in waist high water. How to wear the mask, mouth piece for breathing, sign language for under water communication-- were all explained so well by our diving instructor Dharmesh Singh from Agra. See the illustration below.
PADI is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. It is world's largest recreational diving certification and membership.
Another diver with under-water camera appeared from nowhere and started clicking. All the diving pictures are courtesy Scubaluv.in. It was part of the diving fees for every diver. Normal fees is Rs 2500/- but Seashell Resort guests get a discount of Rs 500/-. Cool.
You would have noticed the incoming tide. Initial briefing was followed by underwater breathing while still in shallow waters. Once cleared by the diving instructor, our Buoyancy Compensator was inflated and we were ready to dive. With gradual deflation, we were guided deeper. The cameraman captured each diver. Though it wasn't best of the days for diving with overcast sky, yet we could see the marine life you can't see otherwise!
We saw coral of different shapes, sizes and hues besides variety of fish. We also saw Clown fish and sea anemone as in the picture below. Clown fish and sea anemone have a special relationship. As per Tree of Life Web (www.tolweb.org), "Symbiosis describes the special relationship between clownfish and sea anemones. They are the only fish that do not get stung by the tentacles of the sea anemone. Clownfish have a slimy mucus covering that protects them from the sea anemone. However, if this covering is wiped off of a clownfish, it will get stung and possibly be killed when it returns home to the anemone. The clownfish and the sea anemone help each other survive in the ocean. The clownfish, while being provided with food, cleans away fish and algae leftovers from the anemone. In addition, the sea anemones are given better water circulation because the clownfish fan their fins while swimming about."
Credit for this research goes to Gipy who was prompt to point it out.
Our dive continued with excitement. We experienced the wonders of underwater world! Gipy and I dived together with Dharmesh as our instructor. More pictures.
The cameraman also shot a two-minute video showing the divers (Gipy and Harsh) admiring the coral and other marine life.
Before we realised, the dive was over. Total time one hour which included briefing and training underwater. We dived upto 6.5 meters. Not very deep but good enough for beginners at 65 years of age!
If you haven't yet done scuba diving, don't wait till 65, do it sooner. You will love it. Besides Andamans, you can do scuba diving in Goa in India. Other popular diving destinations are Hawai, Fiji, Australia and SE Asian coastal nations.
Those of you who are scared of diving, Ghumakkad will take you snorkeling in the next story.
Bye till then
- Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with Neeta Bhargava/ 8th Oct 2016