Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Open Water

We recently watched Open Water, a strange film with a creepy and depressing ending. If you've seen it, you don't need enlightening. If you haven't, check it out. As some reviewers have said, it leaves you with little sympathy for the main characters. At least that was our experience. It's an odd conflict, because we felt like we should have sympathy, but it wasn't there.

It has me thinking about an experience a friend had of pelagic diving off Hawaii. They stepped off the boat into about 10,000 feet of Pacific Ocean. They wisely tethered themselves to the boat. It's easy to completely lose your orientation out there. You forget to follow the bubbles upward in order to reorient yourself. My friend said that it was moment of nearly complete removal from the world as he knew it. He was an experienced scuba diver, but hadn't experienced this kind of thing. Like many, he mostly had dived reefs and wrecks in a few dozen feet of tropical water. Now, he was in the endless blue void, stretching down into the utter dark of the depths. He and his buddy hovered in the brighter blue about 50 feet down, listening to the sounds, and looking up now and then to be comforted by the silhouette of the boat. He fought back the urge to surface quickly as possible. Being in the void caused a rising feeling that he shouldn't be there, which fought with his curiosity and his knowing that they'd been given an incredible opportunity. He stayed down.

Suddenly, with no warning at all, a large gray shape shot past, to be revealed as a large tiger shark. It had come from behind and below them. It swam around for a minute, then was gone into the murk so quickly they didn't really see it go, even though they were looking at it the whole time. They began to surface at appropriate speed to avoid the bends. Then the shark reappeared, again from behind them and this time it came closer. Again, it disappeared without seeming to. They kept rising, and the shark never reappeared.

Needless to say, they made it out of the water. Aside from wonder of the deep, he realized, as he hadn't before since he hadn't thought about it much, the the shark would've had them if it wanted them. There would've been nothing they could've done. They'd never have seen it coming. There would only have been the hit, the bloody thrashing and the horror of the survivor at watching his buddy get taken, follwed by panicked surfacing, a case of the bends if he made it.

OK. Time for a snack, then maybe a swim at lunch in a nice swimming pool which I can imagine is really a tropical lagoon if I try hard enough. We'll leave the sharks out of that peaceful scenario. Still images of a dead eagle ray come to mind. I can still see the 15 inch wide bite that had been taken out of it sometime during the night just off Cook's Bay in Mo'orea. None of those in the pool, but then it ain't Polynesia. Hmmmm....


Blogger Don said...

I have no phobias, but my strange fear of large open bodies of water is close enough. Out on a lake is all right, if it's not more than a few miles wide. I like heaving and tossing on the ocean, though I've never been out of sight of shore.

But the image you paint of being underneath the vast open sea, unimaginable depths below and all around, gives me the willies. You have two unknown environments: The deep beneath, which is dark and populated with God only knows what cruising malevolently through the emptiness; and the great plane of water to left and right and behind, home to all the fish including the large carnivores. Neither environment is meant for Man. Certainly neither one is meant for me.

I think it's al the emptiness, and nowhere to stand.

4:17 PM  

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