Thursday, June 16th 2016

I don’t like to throw the word Epic around casually, but today was EPIC in the Gilis.   i am a novice diver to say the least, with only 20 on my resume.   However, I was fortunate enough today to dive with Lauren (Marine Biologist) and Rose (Dive Master), who have thousands of dives under their weight belt.  Even they agreed…this was National Geographic worthy.

1st dive is at Jack Point at 10am just off the north coast of Gili Trawangan.  This is a great area to see sharks, and this is a key area of our conservation project.  Its a Calm, beautiful morning.    I am really excited to be diving with these 2 ladies for a myriad of reasons, namely that they are great divers, but also because they are great people, and this is my first dive with them.   

We are locked and loaded for a survey dive, ready to capture all that we see this morning from predatory species.    Visibility is very good, about 20M.   We get deep fast to about 25M (80ft).   Within the first 10 minutes we see:   3 blue spotted stingrays, 2 large green turtles, an adult female whitetip reef shark, a school of 1,000 humpback snappers, and more.   My hand can’t keep up writing everything that we are seeing…my survey slate is full on the first page already with data. Not a bad start.   THEN, 

I look over at Lauren, and she is holding a captivating stare into the horizon.  I follow her eyes, and see an endless funnel of large fish that could occupy a 20 story high rise building.   These are Big Eye Trevallys, and there are over 4,000 of them.    These are not minnows mind you, as they are 40-70cm in size (1-2.5 ft).  This is pretty much impossible to explain, but imagine yourself floating upside down 25M (80 feet) under water, and seeing thousands of fish swim around you in harmony, with the sun shooting light in between them.   Rose looked angelic as she floated through this symphony of marine life, well deserving of her nickname “the mermaid”.   Lauren was doing a water angel in the middle of them, and was clearly euphoric by the noticeable smile on her face.  I am watching intently, in sheer amazement.   We swim with them for 15 minutes as they seem to be welcoming us to the group. THEN, 

I hear a loud pulsating sound, and I look up to see if it is a large boat.   It isn’t.   The sound gets very intense, now like the sound of a jet engine.   The only thing I know at this point is that we have a large animal that is about to join the party.    I see a huge figure out of the right corner of my eye shooting towards me, and within 2 seconds I see the spear of a large Blue Marlin coming in like a rocket 10 meters from me.  This Marlin is 2.5 Meters in length, and well over 350 lbs (150kg).    My heart is racing.  I am scared and exhilarated,.  If she is hunting me, then  I am toast!  The 5,000 large jacks b-line it to the ocean floor at a speed you can’t imagine.   The Marlin goes right through, like a bullet.   After having a nice snack, she was gone within 3 seconds.   I am yelling in excitement in my regulator, sucking all of my air, waiting to see if she returns.  The 1 pass was it.   The power of this animal…wow!!  

I have caught a 100kg blue marlin (and released), which was an awesome experience to see them jumping out of the water with such grace and strength.  But seeing this apex predator hunting in its own habitat in front of my face is awe inspiring, humbling, and hard to explain.   Because of the strength, size, and speed  of this animal, I asked Lauren what in the world would be able to hunt or kill a blue marlin, (thinking a Great White maybe?), and she replied with  “humans”.    

So this is why people dive.    For moments like this.   I am grateful and will remember this for the rest of my life.   If, and hopefully when Lauren and Rose invite me to dive with them again, I will come running. 

  • Chris, USA