Page 40 - May2017

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40 |
galveston monthly
| may 2017
Nothing like the Real Thing
Houston-area resident Margaret Nettles has gone
underwater diving in Waimea Bay and Honolua
Bay in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Belize in
Central America, and off the coast of St. Croix in
the Caribbean.
“Diving is one of the most amazing things you
can experience; a slow-motion world, serene, the
ultimate calm,” says Nettles, who has been diving
for more than 30 years.
“I know some people, including my husband,
just don’t get the desire to ‘not be able to breathe
fresh air,’ as he says. But it’s actually liberating
to breathe underwater, not claustrophobic at all.
And you’re literally weightless—what a feeling—
and when you experience that feeling, and you
look around and see all these colorful fish calmly
swim by you, coral that is just gorgeous…all the
problems and worries of what happens on dry land
are gone. Your heartbeat slows down, you just sort
of meditate—really commune with nature, the
kind you can’t commune with anywhere but underwater. Seriously,
there’s nothing like it. So, for me, I don’t get why anyone would
choose not to dive. But to each his own, and this virtual dive, well, it
might be the only way to get someone like my husband interested in
doing the real thing.”
Nettles says she has viewed the National Marine Sanctuaries online
virtual dives and told her husband about the Virtual Dive Gallery
of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. He told her he
would be willing to do an online dive.
“Fingers crossed this will be what it takes to get him fired up to put
on a wet suit,” Nettles says hopefully. “It would be so nice to be able
to share this with him. It would be a whole new world, and what a
world it is.”
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary office is co-located
with the NOAA Fisheries Lab at historic Fort Crockett on Galveston
Island, 4700 Avenue U, Bldg. 216. Divers and non-divers alike can
now plunge into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, 115 miles
offshore, without ever leaving home, by visiting the Virtual Dive
Gallery of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary at
www.FlowerGarden.noaa.gov.
What is coral, anyway?
Coral is an animal in the same family as sea
anemones and jellyfish. It has a soft, gelatinous,
tube-like body with one opening at the top
surrounded by tentacles, called a coral polyp.
Inside the tissues of a coral polyp live symbiotic
algae called zooxanthellae.
These algae give coral their color and provide
about seventy-five percent of their food intake
through the process of photosynthesis. A coral
polyp also builds a calcium carbonate (stony)
skeleton around its base and continuously lays
down layers of skeleton beneath itself for the
duration of its life.
Very few coral polyps live as single individuals.
Most reef-building corals live as a colony of
coral polyps. The skeletons of various colonies
cemented together are what form a coral reef.
gm
40 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
MARCH 2016