swimming with the fishes

I absolutely love fish and aquariums and have made numerous posts over the past couple years of trips I’ve made to the Pittsburgh (here, here, and my favorite one) and Chicago aquariums (the jellies, more jellies, and ugly fishes). So, when we started planning our vacation to Puerto Rico, two obvious questions arose: 1, will I be able to overcome my claustrophobia to wear a mask and snorkel and 2. how was I going to take photos? For 4 days, we were going to be staying on Shacks Beach, one of the best snorkeling areas of Puerto Rico and could rent snorkeling gear for the entire time from our condo group so I knew we would HAVE to try it out. After much deliberation, we decided to take the plunge (haha) and order an Outex get-up for my DSLR, rather than buying a cheap-ish waterproof point-and-shoot that my husband knew I’d never be satisfied with because it wouldn’t shoot RAW (ok, I’m a camera snob. I love my Nikon… it is with me at almost all times). After a few dips in waterfalls and swimming pools and bathtubs, I started to trust that my camera would be ok in the ocean… but still not so sure about me.

However, after getting a brief lesson from the very helpful staff at Villa Tropical (recommended highly if you are visiting Puerto Rico!), we headed out. Felt quite goofy trying to put the fins on, but fortunately it was low tide and the snorkeling area was only like 2 feet deep… Put the mask on and tried to tell myself that I have to breath through my mouth, not my nose. mouth. not nose. mouth. not nose. This was my mantra as I braced myself to put my face underwater. And then OH! MY! WOW!!!! There was so much! All these little and not so little and colorful and not so colorful fish and urchins and caterpillar things and just WOW. And the sun refracts in the water and makes a grid of rainbows everywhere! I was so excited that the first day I couldn’t pause to go in to get my camera, I just wanted to see it all. Anyone who knows me, or is a photographer, will understand that almost NOTHING will make you not care at all about your camera when you see amazingly beautiful things. For the next couple days, I lived for making sure that we were at the beach for low tide. I got a bit sea-sick if we stayed out for more than an hour, or if there was much wind, so we never ventured away from Shacks Beach… but there was so much to see.

Sadly, the pictures don’t do the snorkeling justice. It was still worth the effort, and the Outex was great, so no regrets there. Just wish I had had more time to practice with settings, it’s really hard to shoot when you can’t look through a view finder or adjust settings easily on the fly… but for what it’s worth, here’s what I caught.

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