Happy National Marine Week! Enjoy this excerpt from Sally Mills’ upcoming photograph collection, the companion to Island to Island.
From a practical perspective, the sea was a place to cool down and be invigorated; although the water was warm, it was cooler than the hot sun and it regularly served to take the sting out of sunburn and mosquito bites. Both emotionally gratifying and physically satisfying, I never took for granted or failed to value the significance that living next to the ocean brought to our lives.
Snorkelling off the coast of Aride was superb. It was like entering another world as soon as you peeped through the surface. The underwater colours were fantastic and if the water was calm the sun would shine brightly through, lighting up the reef below. Seeing a turtle was a real bonus, but the usual residents were species such as powder blue surgeonfish, moorish idols, Picasso triggerfish, scissor-tail sergeants and threadfin butterflyfish, to name a few.
Whilst snorkelling, the sight of a hawksbill turtle was always captivating, as they would inquisitively drift towards me for a closer look. Truly beautiful creatures, they glide through the water gracefully, so strikingly different to how they clumsily drag themselves up the beach.
From the beach crest we often watched marine life playing in the water, surfing, skimming, breaking the water’s surface with the flick of a tail, or using the surface tension to propel themselves along. Bottlenose dolphins caught the sunlight as they surfaced and spotted eagle rays glided in the surf like black shadows.
Marine work was a gap in the historical knowledge and management of Aride. The focus had always been on terrestrial, with a full set of data about the bugs and beasties on land, but very little about those in the water. Prior to coming to Aride, I wouldn’t have put myself in the bracket of ‘marine enthusiast’; I often thought about diving, but never really knew if it was for me or how I would feel going down into the depths of the ocean. But then, I don’t think anyone really knows until they give it a go.