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As the azure waters and pristine beaches call you for some beach fun and much needed relaxation, remember that those waters also hold the most amazing wildlife you can explore. From the mighty turtles to the majestic manta rays, the oceans hold the key to the very mystery of life. So let’s go on a visual tour of the mystic waters, this World Ocean Day (June 8th), especially with the 2017 theme being centred on “Our Oceans, Our Future”. The conservation angle this year is “Encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future”

Before we think conservation, it is important that we love the oceans, and for that we must experience it ourselves! What better way to immerse in the wonder of the oceans than strapping on a cylinder and go scuba diving! Though scuba diving may seem like a bulky and cumbersome way to do, it actually is far lighter than it looks since water actually makes everything lighter.

The sheer colours you will see on a dive will leave you baffled as to why everything (and everyone) is so bright underwater! Most aquatic life has poor eyesight and bright colours help ward off predators which means you get to see a kaleidoscope of hues you would never even imagine. From violet soft coral to silvery blue school of fish, the marine life will dazzle you. Here are some of creatures you might encounter on a dive deep down!

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Nudi (pic credit – Matthias Gräub)

Nudi Branches- these colourful molluscs are also called Sea Slugs. There are over 2300 valid species of nudi branches.

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Nudi Branches, Though colourful, nudi branches can be difficult to spot with the smallest of them measuring only 4 mm. (Pic credit -Matthias Gräub)

Scuba diving also lets you peek into the mysterious ways of the ocean’s inhabitants. Such as this small sea horse which camouflages itself perfectly with the coral to avoid predators. But diving is a whimsical mistress rewarding those with patience, with such views.

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The male sea horses carry the eggs post mating and releases them into the ocean when the babies are fully developed. They range from sizes of 1.5 to 35.5cm (pic credit – Matthias Gräub)

Manta Rays-

Diving also affords you some awe-inspiring views of the pelagic marine animals like the manta rays, sting rays and even sharks! Some of my favourites are the Manta Rays who are effortlessly graceful.

Most Mantas are harmless and curious at best towards divers. You are likely to see Mantas around what are called cleaning stations in the reef. Cleaning stations are areas of a reef where a lot of cleaner fish reside, who clean large marine animals such as Manta Rays by eating the parasites, dead skin, bacteria etc. and mucus off of the body surface of the rays. Cleaning stations are particularly popular with scuba divers because of the opportunity to view these normally swift swimming creatures in a more sedate environment. But don’t be fooled by their sedate appearances, Manta rays have been known to leap out of water, sometimes in groups which is also seen in whales.

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Manta Ray (pic credit -Matthias Gräub)

In today’s environment, the world’s oceans are particularly vulnerable to the many threats of climate change, over fishing and pollution. In such an environment, scuba divers are the foremost champions of the oceans and its creatures. It is the responsibility of every ocean lover to promote the cause of marine conservation and as a diver, you get to do that while enjoying the gorgeous underwater views!

So what are you waiting for, strap on those fins and go for your first dive!

 

Credit: Sandhya Nagarajan

Sandhya Nagarajan is a certified advance open water diver and travel blogger at www.sunandsandy.com with a passion for diving, travel and all things marine. She is currently on her long term dive trip to South East Asia.

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