As kids, many of us dream of being explorers as soon as we are introduced to the wonderful natural world around us. We imagine ourselves deep in the jungle in search of that elusive creature. For many of us, from a few generations back, this urge to explore was introduced in all its Technicolor glory thanks to the The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.
Fast forward a couple of decades later and scuba diving is no longer a venture limited to the most daring. Getting certified to scuba dive is available to explorers both young and young at heart. Taking that initial plunge into the undersea world is the catalyst for a lifetime of exploration.
With a couple of decades of exploring the undersea world of South Florida you would think I would have seen it all by now, but this is far from reality. The ocean always has new and unique surprises in store for me. Take today for example.
At first it seemed like just another day in diving paradise… The seas were flat, the sun was out in all its glory, the waters were a rich and warm deep blue. Our first dive to the Trench (aka Moray Alley), part of the southern end of the Breakers reef, started off like most. A couple loggerhead sea turtles greeted us upon our descent. Tons of fish everywhere.
Because this dive site consists, as the name implies, of a large cutout trench in the reef, we were able to tuck away from the slight north current and take our time exploring the reef up close. Soon the creatures from which exploration stories are written began to appear. A viper moray lie deep in the dark recess of the reef. It sat there staring at us with its exaggerated mandible — teeth sprouting in every direction. Every nook and cranny had some unique and fascinating creature to discover.
But the fun of exploring was far from over! Our second dive on the eastern side of Breaker’s reef was to share some of its secrets with us. With conditions similar to our first, we cruised along this coral-covered reef. Swarms of fish enveloped the reef. Predatory jacks were busy corralling a school of bait fish. A couple of sea turtles swam by the group.
At one point in the dive, our eagle-eyed dive guide, Katie Sandidge, points down to the reef. A colorful and elaborate-looking creature was gliding over the reef. Stretching almost half a foot in length, it traveled slowly across the top of the sponge-covered reef. I could not believe my own eyes! I was seeing another of the ocean’s secrets revealed right before me. A undiscovered species of nudibranch! I’m certain I was feeling, at this moment, just like Jacques Yves Cousteau did a couple of decades back while he was exploring our oceans for the first time. Certainly today’s encounter has inspired me to consider the production of a new TV series — The Undersea World of Laz Ruda.
The natural world is filled with all kinds of fascinating lifeforms. Even after all these hundreds of years exploring our world we are still discovering new species. Grab your dive gear and join us as we explore the other seventy-one percent of the planet that has so much yet to be discovered.
PS – If you’re looking to see this unique, one-of-a-kind, nudibranch. Be sure to put in your request with our dive guide, Katie Sandidge. She knows exactly where to find it! 🙂