Friday, April 3, 2009

Monkey Sense

Africa gushes with life.  From the multitudes of ants that line your room like blinking Christmas lights to the monkeys (with pretty balls) that steal your food, 

it just GUSHES with life here.  So, with this constant reminder of the "circle of life"and creatures that keep it rolling, you can't avoid learning a few life lessons from their prying  hands.

Lesson 1: Carry a Sharp Object
Trigger fish are pretty territorial. I knew this. After all, the only creature that managed to draw blood from me when I worked at the TN Aquarium was an itty bitty trigger fish that found the only whole in my dive get-up (tip of my index finger).  It wasn't the sharks,  barracudas,

                                                     or giant arapaimas that got me.

It was that little trigger protecting its nest. Thus, it came as no surprise that the animal that would try to hunt me in Africa would be yet another trigger- only the ones here are HUGE. They're a little over 1.5 feet long, 1 foot high, fat, and look like bullies on the loose with buck-teeth. They're also known for taking bites off of fins and bruising divers.

So there I was, cruising through the reef with just Saidi, a local dive master, when two (and one in particular) started charging at us.  Repeatedly.  Now here's the problem with underwater assaults: You're defensive moves are in slow-motion and their attacks are real-time. I mean, they're of the sea and you're of low-friction land.  Speed just isn't on your side. The best thing to do is get out of there. So we did. And the darn things kept following us. Finally, in my semi-panicked state, I pulled out my final line of defense: My sharp object- A stream line, state-of-the art pencil. Yup. A pencil. After all, I was doing conservation-related research. What else would I have?

The good thing is that it worked. I held up the pencil bravely in front of my mask and made a few threatening jabs.  The trigger must have realized the game was over because it saw the pencil and ducked away with its mate and never bothered us again... 

(Actually, I think we just finally got out of his territory but I would have taken a chunk out of him if I had to!  Therefore, this story is totally legit. So like I said, carry a sharp object and stand firm.)


  1. mwha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I can totally picture you with the pencil in your white knuckled fist...did you pee your pants?

  2. Of course. It's the best part about diving. You can pee wherever and whenever you want and no body ever has to know... that is, until now.