Thursday, January 20, 2011

Butanding Love

It was all too sudden. J, the Butanding Interaction Officer in my boat, told me to jump and, like a true trooper, I did. He asked me to hold on to an orange life-saving buoy while he dragged me to the site. And before I could say “afraid”, I beheld the biggest fish in the world for the first time.

We had six sightings that day and they were all memorable. But I couldn’t get over the third one. I was late into the jump because I fumbled with my camera so the boatmen advised me to just stay in the boat. But God bless their souls, they didn’t want me to miss any of the fun, so they maneuvered the boat to where the pack was swimming. I jumped in and swam, swam, swam. No whaleshark. Down below, I recognized the figure of Jim swimming face up, pointing an underwater camera at me. Just as I was doing the same and pointed my underwater camera at him,  a giant butanding passed directly underneath me, its rough skin accidentally brushing against the back of my hand. I sucked my belly in, raised my torso, pointed my fins slightly upward to avoid further contact. Then I snorkeled like a mad woman to keep pace with it. I marveled at the serrations on its body and the lovely spots that seemed to glow when it caught light. When its eight-meter length finally disappeared from my sight, I raised my head and screamed, Woooow! I was mad with delight.

Posted March 23, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

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