Water presses from all sides, a constant squeeze upon my dive suit. As old and worn as the suit is, the fish-bowl helmet affords unobstructed visibility in all directions. The ocean piled atop me is beautiful — serene, quiet, teaming with life. Craning my neck within the helmet, I watch minute bubbles spiraling up alongside my oxygen tube. Each snakes independently toward the surface through blue and green layers of sea.
My partner and I work together to examine a large pylon-like structure that thrusts from the ocean floor. Its antiquity is evident in the thick layer of barnacles crusting the object. Generations of anemones have settled upon it and wave opaque tentacles in the ceaseless current, while crabs scuttle expertly over its uneven surface. But the pylon needs attention and repairs. We’re uncertain what’s wrong with it and how we’ll manage restoration.
My more immediate concern, however, is the water leaking into my helmet — the Scotch tape seal has lifted and a slow rise of sea water climbs within the glass, lapping against my neck, my chin, my jaw. Ineffectually, I attempt to mash the tape back down, by my movements are slow and awkward. My hands, encased in heavy gloves, are poor instruments for such delicate work.