Have sea lions eaten my dive buddy?
There aren’t many times I’ve asked myself this question, in fact, I’m quietly confident it’s only been once. Still, one time too many.
Here’s the scenario; Mancora, Peru. I’m strapped into my scuba dive gear and being hurled around the South Pacific Ocean, whilst trying with all my might not to crash into a deserted oil rig. My dive buddy has been swallowed into the opaque murky waters, while the guide and I attempt to float on top. If this didn’t sound exciting enough, less than 3 metres away are a family of giant sea lions, all starring at me like an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.
I continue to be thrashed around for another minute and still no sign of my buddy. In my head, there are only three possible outcomes:
1) She is completely fine and having a lovely time underwater, oblivious to the panic above her.
2) She has drowned.
3) She has become a sea lion’s breakfast.
Ruling out number one, I chuck my mask back on and dunk my face underwater. Baring in mind I can barely see my own flippers, she needed to be an inch from my nose, in a luminous wetsuit, waving glow sticks in my face – just maybe then, I would spot her.
Which left me which option 3. How do you phone your best friends family and tell them their child has been chomped down by a pack of blubbery sea creatures? Thank the Lord, there was no need. Just as I was scripting that ridiculous conversation in my head, she reappeared. Albeit, looking slightly frazzled, but still intact with all her limbs in the right places.
The rest of our dive consisted of clinging onto underwater pylons, dodging rusty iron rods that stuck out in all the angles, and continually gesturing the ‘OK’ underwater hand signal, when clearly our eyes were screaming out pure terror. I’ve never experienced a tornado, but after that morning dive I’ve got a pretty clear idea how they’d feel. Great Barrier Reef, this was not.
After 30 exhausting minutes of battle, we surrendered, cut off our oxygen supplies and sunk to the bottom of the ocean – accepting our morbid fate with open arms.
This, of course, didn’t happen – although that’s not saying we weren’t considering it. Instead, we inflated ourselves and called for the speedboat to pick us up. We sped away from the oil rig, convinced we could see the sea lions scowling at us and rolling their eyes. We may not have had the tranquil, exotic dive we were hoping for, but the morning hadn’t been a total fail. We had successfully avoided catching tetanus and being eaten. And with those small wins, we headed back to our hut for copious amounts of beer and some poolside post-traumatic therapy.