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Scuba Diving in Kelp Forests with Sea Lions

When I lived in San Francisco, once a month I would go scuba diving. I’d wake up and leave by 5 am on a Sunday, I would reject any Saturday evening invitations because a good night's sleep and clear head were too important to me and “No, I’m going scuba diving in the morning.”.

I left while it was dark, and drove for two hours as the sun came up driving down beautiful Pacific coast highways to Monterey Bay, excited to get into the ocean, my soul was fuelled and joyful by the colour of the dawn sky.

Then I’d spend the morning scuba diving in the kelp forests, with sea lions. They were so curious and would come right up to you. I see scuba diving as a forced meditation, you aren’t able to speak, all you can hear is the bubbles and breathing from your regulator, and you aren’t able to communicate in any sophisticated way, so short of visually making sure your dive buddy is nearby you are alone with yourself. So you float, you follow the ocean floor, you investigate what you can see, you navigate through the 30ft kelp forests, you study rocks to find life, and in my case, have a large dark shadow appear over your right shoulder. I turned to the shadow assuming it was one of the other people in the group as my dive buddy was on my left, but I was met with these enormous eyes and whiskers. A sea lion had come to investigate us, it hovered a meter or so away from me, and we were maintaining eye contact, it was the most surreal and beautiful thing, we shared that eye contact for a good minute or so, and then the sea lion returned to watch us another two or three times before we finished our dive.

Once the diving was done I’d eat food while the Californian sun dried the sea salt water in my hair.

The drive back was always a lot slower from all of the people driving back to the city from the weekend, I used to stop in Santa Cruz for a beer and a mooch around the shops. I was always so exhausted from the diving, relaxed, and high on endorphins.

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