I still remember the day I discovered that servals were a thing. That exact moment; turning to a particular page in my newly acquired ‘Animals of Pilanesburg National Park’ guidebook, and seeing a serval for the very first time. That cat was unlike anything I’d ever known before and it sent my life off in a new direction. If I didn’t know that I shared my planet with a serval, what else didn’t I know? I was determined to find out. Fast forward very many years, and I’m here writing a safari blog. Because my universe changed. It expanded in that moment.
And it’s happening again.
It’s incredible how just sticking your face under the water for a few seconds can change your life. It can trigger a new ‘big bang,’ from which everything else will come. Like a serval, a million times over. Yes, I snorkeled. And even in a strong current that didn’t lend itself to snorkeling, I remember we saw sea goldies and sargeant majors, butterflyfishes, yellow goatfishes and needlefishes. Afterwards, my snorkeling guide Lee, took me back to the lodge and opened up a book called ‘The Reef Guide.’ She was only trying to show me what we might have seen had the conditions been better, but what she triggered with that book was the beginning of all things. The big bang started with an emperor angelfish.
Last week, my own marine life guide book arrived here at the lodge, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Even now, I sleep with it under my pillow and every time I wake in the night, my attention immediately leaps back to the book. “Wait! Let me just look at those nudibranches one more time!”
The actual universe is expanding at 74.2km per second per megaparsec. That’s a fairly complicated rate to get our tiny minds around, but from what I gather, it’s a lot. It’s so big. And that’s how I feel right now. Like I’m being pulled in every direction, with new things rushing in to fill this new space. Instead of dark matter or whatever it is that drives the expansion of the universe, it’s bandit blennys. Bandit blenny’s are a type of fish. I know, right?
And bandit blenny’s are joined off our coasts by groovy mullets, chocolate dips, gorgeous gussys, javelin grunters, warty dorids, teddybear hermits, dotty dorids, evileye blaasops, chubby clingfish, convict surgeons, old women, englishmen, scotsmen, danes and a fish simply called seventy four. Come on. Those names alone are reason enough to drop whatever you’re doing and devote your life to marine studies…
And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m now working towards my FGASA Marine Guiding qualification. I have no idea where it’ll take me. Maybe it won’t take me anywhere? And I don’t care. Right now, I’m so content to close my eyes, let go and ride this wave…
Did you know…
Limpets grow their own red algae gardens.
When the boxer crab feels threatened, he holds tiny sea anemones in his nippers and waves them around like pom-poms. It’s the greatest thing ever.
There are shrimps and a type of fish called a wrasse, who spend their whole lives cleaning other fish. Yep, they even set up little cleaning stations in prime locations where fish can go and be serviced. Oh yeah, and they have mimics who instead of cleaning their clients, eat big chunks out of them instead.
You’ll never look at Nemo the same way again. Clownfish might start out as male, but they can decide to become girls if they really want to.
Kelp contains something called calcium alginate which is used in pretty much everything that tastes good, including beer, Spur sauce and brownie mix.