Five Towns woman faces tiniest killer in the world
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Still, I really wanted to snorkel the reef. On one hand, having recently escaped the Komodo dragons on the island of the same name, I didn’t want to push my luck. But I was there on the reef, one of the greatest wonders on Earth. I signed up, figuring I’d go out to the reef on the catamaran and decide at the last minute. Meanwhile, I had two days at sea aboard our ship to eat all the desserts in case it didn’t go well.
On the day of the reef excursion, my years of watching “Sea Hunt” and Jacques Cousteau trumped my fears. Nothing to it. Fortified by two days of cream puffs, chocolate mousse and end-of-life éclairs, I went overboard.
The seas were angry that day, my friends, to quote George Costanza. We got out to the first stop on the reef after a two-hour haul on a small boat. The water was choppy, but we put on full-body stinger suits and went in. The crew didn’t wear them; they consider them solely for the use of American wussies who think fatal jellyfish stings are something to fear. The boat boys had all been stung multiple times, but not yet by the dreaded box jellyfish. Great-looking group of mates, but not that smart, eh?
The water was 80 degrees, and once I was in, my galloping heart rate dropped to a wild trot. I saw brain coral and fan coral and gray and stark white coral, and also parrot fish, clown fish and giant angel fish. Most amazing, I saw two giant clams, like something out of Jules Verne. My swimming pal swam down and ran her hand over the opening of the clam, and it started to close! It was 3½ feet across. What a chowder, I thought.
Very quickly, it went from just choppy to rough out there. We sailed on to a second diving spot and dropped anchor. I went in again and saw fantastic branches and fans of coral, as if everything was on steroids. I actually felt comfortable in the water, but I know I would’ve had a heart attack on the spot if I saw a jellyfish. At one point I nearly did have a heart attack when I saw what I thought was a tentacle, but it was only the string from my suit. Ah, it is possible to die a thousand deaths.