Island Life Part 3 - What I've learned at TRACC

Underwater Construction
It’s been two and a half weeks since I first arrived at Pom Pom Island and the Everest of a learning curve I experienced in my first week has gradually leveled to that of a steadier linear climb up some Chocolate Hills.

I have learned – The underwater signs for nudibranch, grouper, mating, scorpion fish, and crocodile fish. How to make a hammock. The interesting and fantastically strange and beautiful anatomy of the nudibranch, with fluffy gills, spiky cerata, horn like rhinophores, and in some, a special ability to be “solar powered”. There are two distinct populations of Bajau people, land and sea, and that the sea Bajau make a yearly offering to the spirits of the sea through sending a boatful of land goodies down the river. Many words of Bahasa Malay including gila (crazy), ayo (oh my god - used as a general exclamation), and nakal (naughty). How to use a lift bag to move bottle reefs and crates of collected  
The Blue Dragon nudibranch
Photo by Basil Bohn
coral underwater. That planting coral and tending to artificial reefs is a bit like gardening, but you must plant coral with space in between the species so energy is not expended fighting, but growing. The basics of regulator servicing. How the local whiskey sneaks up to give you a bangin’ hangover. How to sit on the Flying Fish, the TRACC boat, a bit on the tip toes to protect the bum from the sometimes harsh motion of the waves. That although much of the coral is reduced to rubble, there are signs of regeneration everywhere throughout the artificial reef and surrounding area. How to mix cement and hammer underwater. Turtle eggs are surprisingly heavy for their size. A week of care and food can do wonders for a malnourished kitten. How to be a real life Baywatch character through the rescue diving course. There are 3 types of seagrass on the house reef and 1717 know types of seacucumbers in the ocean, some of which have teeth in their anus, and sometimes pearlfish live inside them. How fun and enriching it is to be in a place where everyone is passionate about the ocean in one facet or another. That simple living promotes freedom of time and mind. How small tropical fish will come to explore a freshly planted bottle reef within about 5 minutes.  That even those with 100’s of dives, that dive 6 days a week, are still easily excited and happy to dive everyday. That everyone has a story to tell and a bit of awesome strangeness inside of him or her. And that the life I was living three weeks ago seems like a dream light years away and eons ago.
A Storm Brewing in the Sunset

With such a wide world of ocean, practical skills and experience, and people to know and learn about, I don’t expect my slope of a learning curve will ever accumulate in descent.

Previous blogs Island life 1  -- Island life 2 -- More from Lark

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