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Counting Corals

Counting Corals

Counting Corals

Guest blog post by our awesome volunteer Hussein Allam…

I am upside down fifteen meters below the surface counting corals.

Life has a peculiar way of unfolding. Paths that seemed so clear and sensible to begin with have vanished abruptly into nothingness. Dense fog clouds the way forward. I have no clue where I am headed. I have no road-map. No plan. Nothing to guide me but a fickle yet intense passion that can’t seem to settle down and make up its mind. At this very moment my passion was counting corals – and I was fully engaged.

The thing about corals is that they’re very diverse and numerous. Different forms, colours, sizes, and textures all make for a very confusing vista to the untrained eye. To the average diver it is all a blur of beautiful colours and shapes that are best left alone. It had taken a week of lectures and training to sort out the finger corals “Pocilloporidae” from the very similar “Acropora”. Other softer forms such as the feather, tree, and leather corals were also decrypted. What was once an incomprehensible jumble suddenly made sense and the reef became a fascinating platter of decoded hieroglyphs telling an ancient story.

I proceeded slowly in my inverted position along the thirty meter transect line laid out beneath me. One by one I counted each type of coral and tallied it dutifully in the appropriate row in my tablet. My focus was intense yet without effort. The task at hand had simply absorbed me fully. All thoughts, memories, and worries ceased to exist. I was in the moment. No, I was the moment! Only the sound of my breathing in my regulator reminded me of my existence.

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