Finding Dory

“Nemo” is easy to find. In fact there are so many cool versions of Nemo, I’m not quite sure which one I like the most. Perhaps the Skunk Anemonefish, simply because it looks like it says on the box, with it’s long dorsal white stripe and pinkish coloration.

Today, having shaken off my sceptical notion that it’s not likely to happen, is the day to go Find Dory! This beautiful bright blue and very shy surgeonfish or Pacific Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) is known to live in the waters close to Dili airport. This beautiful fish is considered “under threat” from illegal collection by some, with an increase in interest due to the movies of 2003 (Finding Nemo) and 2016 (Finding Dory). Despite this, the Regal Blue Tang is ranked LC (least concern) by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). That’s certainly not to say it should be collected from the wild!

Diving (or most other outdoor pursuits for that matter) really require such ungodly starts on a weekend. I’m desperate to have a long sleep, a feeling reinforced by many short nights of late. But hey… I’m not likely to be here again and Dory calls.

My mornings lately are a sleepy and painful affair. Restless nights are perhaps a reflection of it being my last month here, and the challenges of being patient. Having dragged myself out of bed I got my camera together and sleepily cycled the 5km to the dive shop. It was a beautiful morning, and the sunrise was more than enough to make up for the painful start to the day. Breakfast was the usual coffee and Eggs Benedikte (yum) as I got the housing and strobe arms together…

As we arrived at the dive site I realised I’d forgotten to pick up weights. Bugger. I’m oddly floaty at the best of times, so I grabbed a few rocks to see if I could make the best of a bad situation. Of all the dives to forget… Happily I sank, to begin with… and really only just, as with each breath I could feel myself getting more buoyant than I’m used to. The dive site was pretty sparse. A sandy bottom took us to about 12/13m depth before we starting thinking we’d missed the more interesting stuff (and of course Dory). There really was nothing to be found beyond 12m.  I was holding back any thoughts of being too disappointed if we didn’t find them.

Ambling along, with a increasing current and more evident surge as we got back up to around 6 meters dept we happened upon a large coral bommie… and there they were. Timid, and hiding within the coral, they would only emerge when we kept our distance… But they really are quite a striking fish.

By this point the current was pulling me onto the bommie on the side the Blue Tangs were emerging from, my buoyancy was horrible, and it was a real effort not to float to the surface. Once I’d settled, these cautious fish popped out of their little holes and hoovered over the coral. It struck me that they’re bigger than I’d imagined (many times bigger than most anemonefish) but they are really quite pretty.

As I battled to stay level and at depth, and being patient to wait for them to pop up again to get a photo, I couldn’t help but see the parallel to my current situation. Even the notion of “Finding Dory”, the patience for them to come, and the delight which I felt when they did, felt somewhat affirming and reassuring that all is well with the world. It’s all too easy to rush things that aren’t meant to be rushed. And even yesterday, I was close to deciding not to go, simply because I’d written off the idea of finding something cool and special (all too often I have the experience of “what?! You didn’t see the XXXX??!”. Of course, putting this into too close a parallel is silly, but at some point in thinking about it I held back a tear of relief, that I had in fact Found Dory.


One thought on “Finding Dory

  1. The footnote here is simply that the parallel in this story did not result in me “finding dory”, but in the long term it was more than obvious that I was chasing the wrong fish, and spared from something well below my expectations of how life should be.

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