Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Waterstart Week 3: Shipwrecks, Snorkels, and the Power of Slowness

Here at Waterstart, it takes a lot of swift transitions in order to get a dozen campers scuba certified in a week’s time. And Week 3 was especially dizzying because two simultaneous camps made for double the students, double the gear, and double the instruction. One moment we are taking multiple-choice PADI quizzes, and the next we are jumping off the good ship Polaris into crystal-clear water above an 1877 Canadian steamship wreck.

But last week, one moment in particular had me pause.  While one group was completing a Confined Water dive at Whalebone, I was out snorkeling with a few girls from the other group. We finned our way to the mouth of the bay, and I was eager to have them push on—on the complete opposite side of the bay I had seen an octopus nearly three weeks ago.  I encouraged them with words and fin-kicks.  Why wouldn’t they snorkel on, and cover more ground? We had a whole hour left!

But they hung around. One held the camera, and played with her breath in order to sink to the bottom and take close-ups of corals. Another watched the fish around a single rock until I was sure she was talking with them; and she certainly had a lot to say when we got back to the lab.

It got me thinking. Whether you’re a diver, a weekend naturalist, or a full-fledged researcher, the fruit of your labor is often times born of profound stillness. The Bermuda Atlantic Time Series (BATS) project is not about getting a quick snapshot of the Atlantic, but about gathering data over decades! The type of changes that we care about in our oceans and climate simply happen over such a time-frame—researches have to secure 30+ years of funding!

And if findings of the sea urchin regeneration studies are ever applied to human medicine, I imagine it would involve days turned into months, turned into years, turned into noticeable changes in a human body.  Both studies are about exploring over time—not covering ground.

There’s a power in slowness and stillness, and it is easy to forget that much of the action and hurry of our day-to-day is truly aimed all that can happen when we slow down, breathe, and observe. 

The four happy Waterstart campers seemed to get this. Zipping around Whalebone Bay wouldn’t have necessarily added to their snorkel, and they all felt the satisfaction of waiting and watching.

But don’t be mistaken… we play it cool here at Waterstart, and strike that perfect balance between stillness and swiftness. We’re already in the thick of Week Four—our first intermediate group—and we’ve already snorkeled Northeast Breaker, gone free-diving at a wreck, and started playing with our brand new ROV kits. Stay tuned!

To follow our adventures at Waterstart, be sure to like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bios.explorer


The Waterstart Team

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