Islamorada, Florida - As an underwater photographer, I have done my share of diving. I know, all divers throw around numbers of dives and c-cards like a badge of honor. This isn't about quantity, but quality. The other day I had what can only be described as my greatest dive. There was no 300' vis. No schooling bait ball with charging swordfish. No big animal encounters like a whale shark meandering through the dive site. There wasn't even any shipwrecks - and that doesn't happen often. This dive was in 4' of water, under a dock at my good friend Jim Bernardin's resort, Pines & Palms in Islamorada, Florida. There were a couple of the smallest eels I have ever seen. A schooling snapper population the size of matchboxes and a handful of lobster that would have a tough time not being boiled, dipped in cocktail sauce and getting eaten as an appetizer. What made this dive so amazing? It was my son Cameron's first snorkel.
If your a parent, you'll get this. If your going to be a parent, be prepared because it will happen and it's awesome. I'm talking about seeing the world, your world, through the eyes of your child. When Cam and I drifted under that unimpressive little dock not on any map or visitor guide I got to experience the underwater world through his eyes. His anxious points at EVERY fish and the muffled grunts through his little snorkel made my senses heightened. He wanted to make sure I saw it all too. His very cautious approach to a hiding spotted moray not 6" big made me realize how cool those creatures are. His little finger gently touching the modeled shell of a cowry made me ponder there design. The way he flinched when I pointed out an upside jellyfish made me respect there sting. The surprised eek he gave when a barracuda, the largest he had ever seen underwater (maybe 8"), streaked by us was exhilarating.
Civil War submarines, WWII wrecks, pristine stagehorn coral, or schooling sharks can't compare to a 4' dive holding Cam arms under the dock and seeing the underwater world through his eyes for the first time. I'm betting it wont be our last dive together.