Monday, July 27, 2009

Beneath Tropic Seas

"You are standing on a metal ladder in water up to your neck. Something round and heavy is slipped gently over your head, and a metal helmet rests upon your shoulders.

"Turning your head you see emerald waves breaking upon the distant beach of ivory, backed by feathery palms waving in the sunlight against a sky of pure azure.

"You wave goodbye ..and slowly descend, climbing down step by step. Then the world changes.

"There is no more harsh sunlight, but delicate blue-greens with a fluttering of shadows everywhere. Huge pink and orange growths rise on all sides -you know they are living corals.

"Now your feet touch ground ostrich feather of a sea-plume as tall as yourself sweeps against your elbow is a rounded table of lapis lazuli on which are blossoming three flowers...Their petals are resplendent in hues of gold and malachite,and are fluted and fringe like some rare unknown orchid.

"You are troubled with a terrible sense of loss that twenty, thirty, or fifty years of your life have passed and gone without your knowing of the ease of entry into this new world.

"Only a moment has passed since you left the world overhead, or was it many hours?

"All I ask of each reader is this- Don't die without having borrowed, stolen, purchased or made a helmet of sorts, to glimpse for yourself this new world. Books and aquaria are, to such an experience, only what a time-table is to an actual tour, or what a dried dusty piece of coral in a parlor is to this unsuspected realm of gorgeous life and color existing with us today on the self-same planet Earth"

From Beneath Tropic Seas: A Record of Diving Among the Coral Reefs of Haiti, by William Beebe, published by Blue Ribbon Books, 12th Printing, July 1936

Offered for sale as of 7-27-09:

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