“If I could do anything, it would be scuba dive on the reefs of the pacific.”
“This is the spot, Chavo!” Nyla slipped the boat’s anchor overboard. Her sharp eyes picked out a shag diving beneath the waves. The bird left her smiling when it emerged with the silvery fish in its long beak.
“Roger that,” the captain saluted with a smile as he set the controls to maintain position. Stepping from the bridge he gazed at Nyla on the dive platform.
She was rolling her suntanned shoulders into her neoprene scuba dive suit in preparation to explore and search the reef. “Hey, watch those wandering eyes. They’ll get you in big trouble!” she teased.
“Eh, what can I say — they have a mind of their own when sexy mamacitas grace my vessel,” Chavo shrugged. “Why this place? Surely there’s nothing special this close to the cliffs. The beach, further along, might be more fruitful.”
“Not according to the San Marcos church bells,” said another man coming from below decks. He was already clad in his scuba suit as he knelt to work on the yellow oxygen tanks.
“Eli’s right. Those bells indicate a vessel from Columbia, carrying Jesuit priests and a haul of Inca gold, sank in a storm right here.” Nyla adjusted her dive belt with a gleam in her seaweed-green eyes.
“At least if the coordinates are correct,” Eli added. Having double-checked the regulators, he handed Nyla her tank and help her on with it.
“And if those coordinates are wrong?” Chavo asked.
“We’ll pay for your services in pesos and keep looking.” Nyla gave Eli a grin. “Ready?”
“Let’s do it!” Eli pulled on his goggles and slipped backwards off the boat.
“Geez! That guy’s always in a hurry! See you soon, Chavo!” Nyla’s sighed as she settled her regulator and tipped backwards into the water as well.
The two divers descended through the crystal-clear blue waters. They were soon surrounded by schools of tropical fish. A pair of Mako sharks were having fun darting about and catching them. The world became a surreal and magical place once you dove beneath the waves.
Eli squeezed Nyla’s bare calf and pointed out a pair of sea lions. The brown furry mammals with the whiskers and cute eyes seemed to be playing tag as they dived about the kelp.
Nyla nodded through a cloud of bubbles. With a flick of her fins, she powered her graceful body into deeper water.
At first, it was a delight just to swim within the pristine ecosystem. For once, this was a reef not destroyed by pollution. Although the divers knew it was only a matter of time if the human race didn’t make drastic changes to the way they lived.
An enormous black shadow brought a moment of fear as it passed over them.
Nyla couldn’t believe her eyes and they fell upon the serene and graceful wings of a giant manta ray. She loved the way they seem to fly about the ocean.
Turning her attention to the seafloor, she finned her way along the reef. There were more species of fish, eel and crustaceans here than she could count.
Then Eli was signalling. “Over there!” His voice came over the dive mask mic. The oxygen mix and regulator leaving him sounding breathy.
Nyla looked and fought back a smile in favour of keeping her regulator in her mouth. “Well done, Eli!” she replied. Corkscrewing away from a pair of large yellowfin tuna, she finned to a section of seafloor dominated by sand.
Eli had come to stop kneeling in the sand. Before him were a couple of ceramic jars. “These are wrong. They’re not Spanish or Jesuit.”
“They’re not Incan either. They look like Grecian amphora,” Nyla agreed.
“They must have fallen from a different ship, I —” Eli flinched through a storm of bubbles that betrayed his fear. A speckled fish had emerged from one of the Amphora bumping straight into his hand.
“Watch out for the fish, they’re friendly around here!” Nyla chuckled before being goosed so hard she went into a forward roll through the water.
“So are the sharks!” Eli remarked.
Nyla rolled on her back in a small cloud of sand. She was in time to get bumped in the face mask by a white-tipped shark. “Well, Hi, big fella!” The slender Requiem species was known for its inquisitive nature. Nyla tapped his nose and pushed him away. “Okay! That’s the security guard taking care of!”
“Agreed, look. The heavies are coming next,” Eli pointed to a scalloped hammerhead. Its bizarre curved cephalofoil head was waving over the sand like a metal detector as it scanned for something to eat.
“I love this! But where’s our ship!” Nyla said watching the magnificent beast as it swam away.
“Let’s try this way, I see something in the murk.” Eli kicked through the water heading further away from shore.
Nyla followed, pausing to smooth her hand over the shell of the leatherback turtle that came swimming lazily by.
The ship appeared out of the murk like the skeleton of a prehistoric monster. Most of the wreck had been destroyed by water erosion. Worse a section of dragnet from a trawler was caught in it. This sort of fishing decimates ecosystems and destroys ancient shipwrecks. The carcass of a dolphin was snagged in the net.
Nyla knew she’d be in tears if she wasn’t underwater.
Eli cut the body free and let it float away as he dealt with the remains of the net. With the rotten object rolled and tied to his specimen bag, he began to examine the shipwreck.
Nyla blew him a kiss, thanking him for dealing with the net. She began billowing some of the sand away from the structure, hoping to expose treasures.
“Let’s try and find something to prove this is our ship. That’s all we need this trip so we can get permission to salvage it,” Eli said.
“What about this?” Nyla has found a section of the gunwale. Hooked-in the rotting boards was a stubby stone cross.
“Nice! The short stipes or vertical section proves that’s Jesuit. This has to be our ship!” Eli swam a somersault.
Nyla shook her head at him, “Calm down, big boy! You’ll use up all your oxygen like that.”
“Good point.” Eli checked his dive watch for his remaining oxygen count, nodded and returned to searching.
Nyla took out an underwater camera and photographed the cross. Without permits, she was unable to take it with her on this trip. For now, recording pictures and the location would have to be good enough.
“I got another and a gold coin!” Eli yelled in excitement filling his vicinity with bubbles.
“Woohoo! That’s —” Nyla saw a massive black shape moving in the gloom at the edge of her vision. “Look at the size of that!”
“Woah! Time to leave!” Eli pointed up.
Nyla nodded and began to fin her way toward the surface. She got a glimpse of dark speckled skin on the 50-foot-long creature. It opened its gargantuan mouth towards her and then turned away.
Breaking the surface, Nyla took a wave to the face and gasped as it inundated her goggles.
“Quick! Out of the water!” Screamed Chavo from the deck of the boat.
Nyla and Eli wasted no time swimming to the dive platform.
“What is it?” Nyla pulling herself on board and flopped onto the deck to catch her breath.
“El Demenio Negro! It was right there!” Chavo pointed to the waves beyond the starboard. The only thing moving there now was a pair of frigate birds winging their way toward the cliffs.
“The black demon shark, huh? That would be something special to find,” Eli said while peeling his wetsuit off.
Nyla laughed, “We saw it but it was no monster. No megalodon. Not even a meat-eater.”
“Well, he was there and he was huge!” Chavo gestured as wide as he could make his arms.
“Sure, it was the largest shark in the ocean. A beautiful, placid, whale shark. He turned and smiled at me as I swam for the surface,” Nyla explained having extracted herself from her wetsuit. Sitting, she pulled shorts on over her bikini bottoms.
“Right, whatever,” Chavo became downcast but only for a second. “Did you find a treasure ship?”
“We found a ship. Now, we have to go and submit a claim to get a permit to dig deeper.”
“Whoopee! Now, I’ll be rich!” Chavo jumped and clicked his heels.
“Then we can count on you to bring us back?” Eli asked.
“But of course,” Chavo struck a strong pose. “I am at your service.”
“That’s great, thank you Chavo,” Nyla gazed at the water around the boat. “Don’t go anywhere gold, we’ll be back!”
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!