Diving a coral reef

White Rock, Koh Tao, Thailand

Our 12-year-old completed an Open Water certification, experiencing the magical world of diving in a healthy coral reef with a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA). Diving combines the amazing physical sensation of horizontal hovering – moving up and down with an inhale or exhale – and flying, as you glide forward or backward with a flick of a flipper or wave of the hand. With sun penetrating to depth, rainbow colors of corals, fish and anemones are a textural and visual sensations. Marine critters interact: aggressive triggerfish, shy blue spotted rays, mellow grouper, showy Christmas tree worms and elusive but dramatic nudibranchs.

The magical world of a healthy coral reef.

We discussed the ecology and conservation issues of this amazing and threatened ecosystem:

  1. What is the basis of the food chain in a coral reef ecosystem?
  2. Which species are the main grazers, herbivores and predators?
  3. What is coral bleaching? What causes it to happen?
Completing a SCUBA certification requires an understanding of physics, physiology, chemistry and math. The program is challenging and rewarding – an ideal example of experience-based learning.