As you enter the alien environment, you don't know where to look first. In every direction, your eyes meet impossibly brilliant colors and seemingly unearthly shapes. Stranger still, this riot of color is alive and surrounding you like a whirlwind, ever shifting and flowing, yet never touching you. You feel like a true adventurer, like an explorer of old or the hero of some science fiction epic. Perhaps strangest of all, until recently you had no idea that this alien landscape existed, and could be found practically in your own backyard. This alien environment, with its strange creatures, is not on some far away planet, but right here at home, on planet Earth.
Probably most of us never think much about the oceans. We may visit the beach, enjoy playing in the surf, even feel a romantic stir as we listen to the regular crashing of the waves, yet do we ever seriously wonder what's beneath the surface? When we look at the vast expanse of water stretching to the horizon, we might have a tendency to think of it as a watery desert, vast, unchanging, but practically devoid of life. This couldn't be further from the truth. A better comparison might be a rainforest or jungle. Imagine flying over a jungle and seeing what looks like a solid green plain. Would you conclude that the green surface of the treetops was all there was? Even if you've never walked the jungle floor, you know better. The jungle teems with life, some of it dangerous, much of it beautiful, but all of it interesting.
In the same way, the surface of the ocean conceals another world, a world much larger than our own. Over seventy percent of the world is covered with ocean. To put that in perspective, think about all the places on Earth that you've heard about but never visited, and then imagine that more than twice that land area is covered with water. Do you like beautiful scenery? Does the sight of a jagged mountain range take your breath away? The ocean is not like a giant swimming pool; the bottom isn't flat, but just like dry land, contains hills, mountains, valleys, and even volcanoes. Since the average depth of the world's oceans is more than 12,000 feet, with some places being much deeper, there are a lot of places to hide mountains.
The creatures of the oceans come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike most freshwater fish, saltwater fish are often brilliantly colored, and far from shy. Particularly around one of the world's coral reefs, you might find yourself literally surrounded by these citizens of the deep.
For thousands of years, the world's oceans remained a mystery, with tales of great sea monsters fueling the dreams of many sailors. Now, this alien world is accessible even to the common man. Gradually, the mystery is disappearing, yet the wonder remains.
Would you like to see the wonders of the ocean for yourself? Then why not try scuba diving? Scuba is an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. Basically, this means carrying your air supply with you when you go underwater. If you like swimming, or outdoor activities in general, you'll like scuba diving. If your idea of relaxation is going to a zoo or museum, you'll like scuba diving. If you like beautiful scenery and getting back to nature, you'll like scuba diving. Scuba diving does require a modest investment of time and money, but classes are available practically everywhere, even hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean.
You might think of scuba diving as too physical an activity for your taste. While it's true that diving allows you to get as much exercise as you want, athleticism is not a requirement. With the proper assistance, often, even older people and those with physical disabilities can enjoy diving.
The rainforests and jungles of the world may be far away, and unlikely vacation spots. In contrast, the beach may be very close (and have better hotels). Perhaps you never thought of going to the beach as an adventure. Yet, travel a few miles past the beach and a little ways down and you enter another world. Depending on where you are, you just might find a world as exotic and exciting as any jungle. So why not try scuba diving and become explorers in this alien environment?