Become Submerged
Lauren Twele, Division 3, College sophomore #ws16e-s2d3

I am floating above a bustling city. Thousands of structures have been assembled and display vibrant colors and patterns, which function dually as efficient housing accommodations and pronounced pieces of artwork. Citizens habitually roam about, some solitary and lethargic coasting along the outskirts of the metropolis, some clustered in tight groups frantically darting about the entirety of the city’s district. Others lurk silently in the shadows, unheard and unseen throughout the day, but who morph into fearsome killers at night. A few inquisitive inhabitants eye me cautiously before casually passing by and continuing on their journey through the main pathway of immense networks of stunning architecture. While taking in all the fascinating and magnificent scenery, I also take a moment to appreciate the opportunity to defy gravity by soaring over this enchanting landscape, or as many refer to as remaining neutrally buoyant. Soon after it is time to emerge out of the depths of the Atlantic and return to sea level, but the underwater world that remains behind continues to be my favorite place on earth.

When my father and I received our official diver certifications last October, I knew that I had found my new passion. Scuba allows me to literally dive into a completely unique and captivating world so different from our own, about which we as humans know so little. In fact, I believe that the main allure of the underwater experience comes from the mystery it contains in its depths and the secrets of the creatures that live there that we have yet to discover. Each time I embark on a new dive adventure, I have the chance to observe and understand marine organisms that most people never will get to see or appreciate in their lifetime. Additionally, the underwater world provides the eye-opening reality that humans are not the only ones who utilize this planet and call it home.

Despite today’s contemporary society and its focus on how people should use the world’s resources to benefit themselves, the activity of scuba diving allows me to completely reverse this commonly accepted ideal, and change it into what I can do to benefit the world. Although life on land may be dominated by the human existence, the world underwater remains under the dominion of the marine life that inhabits it. Ironically, this environment where human influence has been completely removed is the place where I feel most at home, for the unblemished habitat underwater is what inspires me to make a difference on land. It is common now to see these marine habitats, which have functioned so efficiently without the impact of human interference before, are now beginning to be harmed and even destroyed by human wastefulness, such as pollution. When I dive on the few underwater environments that have not yet experienced the negative effects of human carelessness, I feel motivated and empowered to reverse the trend of destruction in order to save these priceless ecosystems by advocating conservation and taking the time to evaluate how our decisions on land may have an impact on underwater environments. Without the ability to scuba dive on these aquatic treasures, I probably would never have realized the magnificence and beauty the underwater world possesses, and how important it is to sustain the valuable ecosystems.

Although it may be strange that my favorite place is one where I must wear a wet suit and oxygen tank to fully experience, entering the marine ecosystem is a powerful and much-needed reminder that the aquatic world many do not see or think about holds so much intrigue and mystery. However, because our actions on land have a profound impact on life in the sea, diving also is a reminder that we have a responsibility to sustain and care for these amazing underwater environments.
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