(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, February 19, 1989)

I’m swimming about 20 feet below the surface of the Atlantic, a major ocean. I’m a little nervous about this. For many years my philosophy has been that if God had wanted us to be beneath the surface of the ocean, He would never have put eels down there.

But I’m not panicking. That’s the first thing you learn in scuba class: Don’t panic! Just DON’T DO IT! Even if a giant eel comes right up and wraps around your neck and presses its face against your mask and opens its mouth and shows you its 874,000,000,000,000 needle-sharp teeth, you must remain COMPLETELY CALM so you’ll remember your training and take the appropriate action, which in this case I suppose would be to poop in your wet suit. I don’t know for certain, because in my training we haven’t gotten to the section on eels.

Also, I am just now realizing, we haven’t covered the procedure for what to do if a large tentacle featuring suckers the size of catchers’ mitts comes snorking out and grabs your leg and starts hauling you into a vast, dark, hidden underwater cave whose denizens have little if any respect for the Bill of Rights.

Also there is the whole issue of shar . . . of sha . . . of sh . . .

There could be s—ks down here, somewhere.

But so far, all the marine life has appeared to be harmless. Mostly it has consisted of what I would describe, using precise ichthyological terminology, as «medium fish, » many of which are swimming right up and giving me dopey fish looks, which basically translate to the following statement: «Food?» That’s what fish do all the time — they swim around going: «Food?» You can almost see the little question marks over their heads. The only other thought they seem capable of is: «Yikes!» Fish are not known for their SAT scores. This may be why they tend to do their thinking in large groups. You’ll see a squadron of them coming toward you, their molecule-size brains working away on the problem («Food?» «Food?» «Food?» «Food?»); and then you suddenly move your arm, triggering a Nuclear Fish Reaction («Yikes!» «Yikes!» «Yikes!» «Yikes!») and FWOOOSSHH they’re outta there, trailing a stream of exclamation marks.

This is a lot of fun to watch, because many of the fish are spectacularly, psychedelically beautiful. I’m sure there are all kinds of practical reasons for their coloration, but I don’t want to know what these reasons are. I like to think that whoever designed marine life was thinking of it as basically an entertainment medium. That would explain some of the things down there, some of the unearthly biological contraptions you see hanging out in the nooks and crannies of the reef or contraptioning along the bottom on a ridiculous number of arms and legs with all kinds of feelers and pincers and eyeballs sticking out randomly on the ends of stalks.

It is a comical place, the sea.

So anyway, I’m swimming along the reef, with my nervousness gradually being replaced by a sort of high — a combination of fascination and amusement — when suddenly I hear my scuba instructor, Ray Lang, make the following statement: «Bmoogle.» Everything anybody says through an air regulator underwater sounds like «bmoogle, » which can mean: «Hi!» Or: «Isn’t this fun?» Or: «I’m having a coronary seizure!» So generally people communicate with hand signs.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/15/1737687/blub-story-a-very-deep-experience.html#ixzz0wzc8wTQC

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