The Beauty of the Deep - Diving in the Ocean Currents of North Tip

Juvenile bat fish,
Photo By Basil Bohn
I’m floating weightlessly in the murky blue. Below lies unfathomable depth and the tantalizing mystery of the unknown; above the faint glimmer of light I know to be the sun. Behind, the wall grounds me in the weird, wonderful, and still wild world of the ocean. At Pom Pom Island on the Eastern Side of Borneo, I’m scuba diving and drifting with the ocean current at North Tip.

Here at the Tropical Research and Conservation Center, where I am a Divemaster in training and a marine conservation volunteer, I always have ample opportunity to abscond from the restrictions of gravity and meditate in the blue. Yet, today the beauty and the peace of the deep feels forever more intense.

I twirl 180 degrees with a grace only available in the water and I greet the face of the wall. A rainbow spectrum of color and motion enlightens my senses as the living, moving landscape slowly passes by. Meters of soft coral, usually erect in broccoli-esque trees, drape from the overhang in a vast yellow curtain. Black, purple, and white, sea fans reach into the ocean like starched sheets of capillaries, purposefully protruding to catch the full force of the current and the plankton that will be their meal. Soft sea whips, taller than me, curled, fuzzy, and virtually colorless, extend into the ocean, a stark and awesome vision of light reaching into dark. Upon slight ascent, a new vision appears; massive plates of hard corals in a multiplicity of shapes and colors, some like mushroom caps, others that appear to pulsate in psychedelic colors tessellate with peachy brain corals with divots that can be followed like a maze. This cacophony of beauty expands my body and spirit with elation.

Bubble coral shrimp
Photo by Markus Mende

I take a moment to gently fin against the current and explore the realm of tiny creatures living in the caves and crevices created by corals. A symphony of shrimps and crabs seemingly crafted of glass and porcelain with transparent bodies or perfect pink, green, and blue veneer hide beneath. Others who wiggle their orange and white spotted humped back in a twerking movement to rival Miley Cyrus nestle into their anemone homes in harmony with their neighboring anemone fish. Nearby, soft bunches of bubble coral hide furry orangutan crabs. Rising further I float over the algae crusted coral rubble, still enjoying the sensation of flying diving allows, while the tiny heads of jawfish with devilish glowing orange eyes retreat from my shadow into their ocean floor holes.

Christmas tree worm
Today I never want to leave the ocean, but I am human and my limitations are real. Yet, as I look up to ascend more beauty welcomes as geometric slivers of a deep and golden orange setting sun breaks through the water. Upon surfacing, a rosy horizon and the silver sheen of a setting sun scintillating on the ocean greets me. I am still in the most beautiful place on earth.


If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please 
check our website http://tracc.org or e-mail info@tracc-borneo.org 

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Reef conservation would not be possible without generous financial support from
GEF /SGP for Malaysia who are helping our community activities and coralreefcare.com who generously provided materials to build the new reefs.

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