Todays work is one that you either love or hate….what do they say about never working with animals or children? Well on the assumption that cats cannot yet dive, that just leaves us kids. Little ones as young as 8 are welcome to try diving with us in a Bubblemaker programme.
And again, this is where the bay becomes a great advantage. Most centres have to conduct their Bubblemaker dive in the pool, whereas we have sufficient calmness, clarity and stillness of water to be able to take kids into the sea. Who wants to see plasters and hair balls when there are perfectly good fish out there?
With little people comes mini diving kit. We even have small tanks that mean these little guys (and girls!) can feel like proper divers. And they are….all the normal equipment is used and they are allowed to descend down to the heady depths of 2m.
With a thorough briefing and a double checking of what’s needed, such as equalising and clearing a mask, we head off to the water. I can’t help but be envious as our lovely tank boys carry my boys’ kit down as I march through the sand to the water.
Kids will do one of two things on a dive like this, and it’s always a gamble which way it will go…. Are they are torpedo or a sleeping beauty? They either fin like a mad thing and drag you round the dive site or they hang from you, in something similar to deep sleep, and somehow double their bodyweight, as you lug them round. Double their bodyweight!? I hear you chuckle. Let me tell you, at just over 5ft tall and of a small build, I have had many a bubble maker guest who is taller than me and probably heavier too!
However, this one bucks the trend and is a natural. As we descend, he gently kicks and is soon copying my finning style – frog kick (a lot of adults have problems with this style)! We swim around in the water, me pointing out as many different fish as I can. There’s butterfly fish, lizard fish, a small moray and a passing napoleon doesn’t go unnoticed! But it’s the sight of one fish in particular that excites me and I’ve heard rumours of its presence but am yet to see it this season – the illusive juvenile emperor angelfish. They are one of a few species where the youngster looks completely different to an adult and you would never guess by looking at it what it was going to grow up to be!
Unlike other species, the emperor angelfish loses none of it brightness or cuteness as it ages, but it does undergo the most amazing complete colour change. After a thorough hunt around, I find my nemesis, hiding out among the concrete blocks. And my, is he shy. He darts in and out of the shelter, not sure if he is safe to remain out for any length of time. My guest seems just as entranced, as if he knows that the stuff that you have to really look and wait for is some of the best.
Fish continue to fascinate me all the time. When they don’t, I’ll hang up my fins…. and not a day before!