It’s no wonder I dreamed of Richard Dreyfuss the night before my first dive lesson. The weirder details of the dream escape me, but I remember Richard Dreyfuss saying how tired he was of people yelling out lines from “Jaws” when they saw him on the street. This prompted me to say something helpful like, “Maybe if they said more obscure bits of dialogue it wouldn’t be so bad.” I then recited a few fragments from the autopsy scene like “partially denuded bone remaining” or something like that, but this didn’t seem to improve his mood.
Today I channeled Hooper/Richard when we learned how to handle our air tanks. “If you screw around with these things they’re gonna blow up!” etc. When I spit in my mask, I remembered Hooper descending in the shark cage, with a nervous dry mouth, “I got no spit!” Trying to adjust to the weight of the tanks and controlling my buoyancy, meant that I tumbled ass over tea kettle (as they say in New England) in the deep end trying to achieve that elusive floating sensation. Breathing underwater sometimes felt natural, and other times, as when I tried to clear my mask and ended up with water up my nose, I had to surface and gather my wits.
Above the pool, framed by an old rusted brass porthole hung a picture of a great white’s gaping jaws.
I don’t know why, but the image comforted me.
Thought I might get some snorkeling practice today before my first dive lesson tomorrow. As tranquil and sun-filled as La Jolla had been, Leo Carillo was murky and treacherous. Endless, rolling, silty green. The kelp still looked gorgeous, but those waving sea grasses, so mesmerizing a month or so ago, now seemed menacing, filled with potential predators. I felt utterly insignificant in the vastness. My friend Renee and I had to scramble out on the rocks where waves smashed us into other rocks and each other. When we finally found a high crag covered with bivalves and star fish, I sat there, chest heaving, staring at the crabs in their obscure passages, spitting out salt and thinking maybe I needed a swimming lesson since I took my last one in 1974.
Equally obscure, murky and dangerous were OCEARCH’s replies to critics during a live Facebook chat. When I asked them what “450 million mystery” could be solved by killing sharks, (which they do in the name of research), they conveniently avoided addressing the killing and focused on the mystery: “We want to find out where they go! How they breed!” When other activists asked them to justify their method of tagging which severely limits shark mobility and leads to infected, ragged fins, they replied that sharks brutalize each other all the time. When the questions became too rational or scientific, they simply blocked the activists and real researchers and answered questions from 8-year-old kids and sports fishermen.
No matter. Every movement starts small. I do believe OCEARCH will be exposed. How long can people be fooled by shark researchers wearing backwards baseball caps and flashing those heavy metal devil fingers? Ugh. I don’t want to contemplate the answer to that question.