Aquatic Stories (part 4 of 5)

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In 2009, I was in Asia for the first time. I explored the southern area of Thailand and its wildlife. I saw a sea serpent, other species of fish and marine invertebrates different from those in American waters.

In the northern part of the country, in Pai, I contacted a woman my friend Diana knew and who had a female elephant. She treated her very well, and one day, we went on a ride in the forest that ended at the river.

I went on that ride with Diana’s mother, Ana and we ended up swimming in the river. The elephant loved the water and dove in the water from all directions.

Her caregiver (Mahut), gave her orders in Thai that we couldn’t understand and she started spraying us with water and sand using her trunk, which made us fall, among other things. We didn’t understand was going on as everything came as a surprise to us.

Then I tried to touch her and caress her, but it seemed she didn’t like to have her nails touched underwater, because I felt she was trying to kick me! Luckily we were underwater… it was a strange feeling falling off an elephant into the river, it seemed like a mildly dangerous sport since the elephant itself can fall on top of us.

However, everything went well, except I had to spend several days getting the sand out of my hair!

In 2010, I went back to Asia, but visited Australia as well. In Bali, I swam in the middle of a shoal of Jackfish. The first time I saw them was when they just beside me, and I screamed underwater, there were so many and so big.

A little later, I went in the shoal and was able to watch them swim in circles around me. During another snorkel excursion, I swam away from the group and stayed by myself. Suddenly, I felt a change of behavior in the fish I was observing.

I looked toward the front and saw two large reef sharks. I wasn’t scared, since they were looking at me with curiosity and I knew that specie didn’t attack people. However, I decided to get slowly closer to the boat, which was far from where I was.

During that trip, I also saw a fish cleaning station: certain species of small fish clean the gills and teeth of bigger fish. The latter know what’s going on and let them do their job without eating the small fish while they’re in their mouths.

The dentists can’t be eaten, that’s the rule! At the shore, some fish were following me, and I realized that it was because when I was lifting rocks while looking for wildlife, there were little prawns they could eat.

So I resumed my rock-lifting to their greatest pleasure. The only ones displeased were unarguably the little prawns. You can’t please everyone, right?

Author: Helena Aroyo

Amelie Delobel

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