Today I finally got my open water certification, and I have a little card to prove it! It's a temporary card, so I still need to give my instructor a photo so he can mail away for a real card, but it's official!
And I saw dolphins! Unfortunately I didn't get to swim with the dolphins--they were farther from shore than we were diving, out by the dolphin tour boats that were possibly illegally feeding them to get them to stick around nearby. But there was a whole pod--maybe 15 or 20?--that we could see from the shore. They were mostly swimming at the surface, but from time to time we'd see one leap clear out of the water. And when we got in the water, well, we could definitely hear them. The high-pitched squeaks and chirps carry quite well underwater, as you might imagine.
Out diving, I saw a couple sea turtles, which were totally unperturbed by our presence. I love that--I mean, fish don't really mind divers or snorkelers unless we get close, but the sea turtles don't even mind getting close. Which is funny, because the law protects them from harassment, which I think includes getting within maybe 10 feet of them (I'm not sure that's the law, though...need to check). I guess they're tough, they're much better swimmers than we are, and it's illegal to hurt them, so it makes sense that they're not afraid of us. Anyway, I was sitting on the bottom waiting for the instructor to do something when I saw a turtle swimming right towards me at quite a good speed. It didn't bother altering its course one bit on account of me. Came close enough that I could have reached out and touched it.
I saw a few colorful fish I'd never seen before, and a big school of unicorn fish. I saw three or four white-mouth moray eels. One I only barely saw: In the shadow under a bit of reef overhang (like a very small cave), I could see something light colored moving up and down. I couldn't figure out what it was at first, but I saw a dead crab at the corner of the "cave" entrance. I realized the light-colored thing was the eel's bottom jaw, as they're always opening and closing their mouths, and the crab was its lunch. The other cool thing I saw that I'd never seen before was some other type of eel--smaller, white with dark speckles--sticking its head out of the sand. Apparently they swim around at night, but during the day, they hide in the sand, sometimes putting their head out. If we swam too close, or made sudden movements in their direction, they'd disappear under the sand (and you couldn't even see their holes, since they would immediately be covered by sand). They were very cool eels.
Unfortunately, as you have probably guessed, I didn't have my camera. And I probably could have brought it, because again we didn't go deeper than 30 feet. But I'm really looking forward to bringing my camera out diving. I love being able to look at fish at eye level, and for extended periods--not "dive down to get a quick photo oh no I need to go up for air" as it is with snorkeling. Hopefully I'll get some good shots next time I go out diving. Apparently there's a shark spot near where we were (some nice white tip reef sharks). And I'm still hoping for a dolphin sighting.