There comes a time in every teenager’s life when they have to make a decision on what they want to do or accomplish with the next few years of their life. For some, this decision is made over a long period of time, but for others, like myself, the choice for a future career can be made by simply a truly memorable moment in your life. As for my moment, it went a little something like this…
Imagine the feelings that overcame me as I climbed aboard the vessel ‘Adventure’ to embark on what would be the trip of a lifetime, an eight-day expedition alongside other Girl Guide members to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. I was excited, anxious, proud, nervous, curious and incredibly happy all at once. There were several memorable moments during this trip which deserve to be mentioned. From whale and dolphin watching, to eating fantastic Mexican cuisine – and even singing a few campfire songs on the top deck under the magnificent starry sky, in the leftover warmth from the freshly set Mexican sun. However, there was one particular moment which stands out above the rest. That moment was when I snorkeled and swam in the Sea of Cortez.
Those days of snorkeling would change my life and send me on a path that I never really expected to be on. The memorable part from these snorkeling adventures wasn’t about the locations – it was about how I experienced the sea itself.
This was my first time on the west coast and so far south – the heat was almost unbearable those first few days, so it was very refreshing to finally go swimming. Yet swimming here felt different; it felt new. I put on my snorkeling mask after I cleared the fog out of it, tested my snorkel, and away we went, like a school of fish, observing our brand new surroundings.
I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I was not just seeing, but experiencing the wonder itself. By experiencing I mean using all of my senses. The water was incredibly clear. You could see the sea life even if it was 10 meters away from you. I remember diving under the waves and turning onto my back to see the sun rays shining through the surface of the water and almost reaching the bottom. I remember taking deep breaths so I could stay under long periods of time and swim down to touch the sandy bottom, which was rippled from when the waves carried the tide in. I remember tasting the terribly salty water on my lips and smelling the salt water each time I came up for breaths. It was like a vivid dream, almost too amazing to be reality. However, I still haven’t mentioned the best part – being a part of the world’s most amazing natural aquarium.
The Sea of Cortez is home to thousands of marine species, and I got to learn so much about them by swimming alongside so many of them. From moray eels to bullseye stingrays, to several different types of coral, star fish, and the widest variety of the most colorful fish that I’ve ever laid eyes on. I have never had the chance to learn in such an interesting way before in my life. It made me feel as though I myself was part of the sea life. Sometimes, before I knew it, I’d be swimming in the middle of a school of fish, like I was one of their own. I got a whole new perspective on marine life, so much so that I finally decided what I want to be after school, a marine biologist.
This is what I want to do with my life, and this is how I want to feel every day, like I did in that moment. I want to work alongside the marine animals as I study them. I want them to show me how they live, I want to see new creatures every day, and I want to feel like I’m a part of what I’m studying. I don’t just want to study marine biology, I want to experience it. This memory, although still very fresh in my mind, will always remain as vivid as it is to me now. I will never forget the time that I spent there. Not just snorkeling in the sea, but really being a part of, and truly experiencing the magnificent wonder that is the Sea of Cortez.
Guest post by Michelle Stackhouse. Michelle is a Ranger with the 2nd Tidewater Rangers, Tidewater Area, New Brunswick.