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drenaline coursed through my veins as I sat on the deck of a cramped dive boat, speeding through the water of the Cayman Islands. The vibrant turquoise waves surrounded me as the islands disappeared into the distance and we made our way to open water. On the perimeter of the boat were two dozen oxygen tanks, ready to help us breath 60-feet below the surface. At the front of the boat was the captain and two dive guides, all dressed in bright red matching t-shirts. “Hello everyone and welcome! I hope you’re excited to dive the USS Kittiwake Wreck,” one of the instructors shouted. He was bubbly and eccentric, and sounded as if he was working at an amusement park rather than on a boat. On an ordinary day, this unwarranted exuberance may have grated on my nerves— 40

but I fully understand his elation to dive. In his overly enthusiastic style, he announced important safety protocols, mixing in far too many corny jokes. “We have the perfect diving conditions today and should have about 100 feet of visibility,” he continued. “While the main attraction of this site is obviously the wreck, we can also expect to see an array of animals, including nurse sharks, eagle rays, groupers and barracuda,” he explained. Five minutes out from the destination and the high-spirited instructor finally finished his speech. Now it was time to don our equipment. I put on my flippers and strapped eight pounds in weights to a belt around my waist. In 85-degree water, no wetsuit is necessary. Instead, I pulled on my dive vest — which held my oxygen tank, buoyancy control device (BCD), regulator and

dive computer — over my bikini. Finally, I slipped my mask over my face and prepared to jump into the water. Although diving into potentially shark-infested seas with almost 45 pounds of equipment strapped to my body could be considered nerve-wracking, I could only feel excitement and anticipation. I eagerly stepped off the back of the boat and into the water. For a second, I bobbed at the surface as stray waves from passing boats made the water momentarily choppy. Soon after, I released the air from my BCD and slowly descended to the ocean floor. No matter how many times I scuba dive, the experience never fails to astound me. The silence of being fully submerged was comforting rather than unnerving. Myy equipment felt weightless, instead of cumbersome like it did on the boat. I found myself looking

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