If you had told me a few months ago that my English degree would have me exploring reefs and swimming with fish I probably would have laughed. But that’s exactly what I got to do this week as part of my marketing internship with SIOC.
Throughout my first week on the job, I’ve been constantly learning new things about the place I’ve called home for over 20 years. Did you know a sea urchin’s closest relative is a starfish? I sure didn’t, but now I am prepared with this very important piece of trivia. As I sat behind my computer writing press releases and doing other things that marketing interns do, our knowledgeable manager and tour guide, Matt (he’s TripAdvisor famous; check it out!), was helping people plan their perfect kayaking trip or telling snorkelers about his favorite spots and pointing out the kinds of fish they might see. And I soaked it all in. I was gaining a whole new perspective on the world of Florida’s waterways.
When I was asked if I wanted to go on one of the snorkel tours to see what it was all about, I jumped at the chance. Any day I get to take my work outside the office and try something new is a good day, so I was humming tunes from Little Mermaid about flipping ones fins as I headed to the back to get out the snorkel gear. I hadn’t been snorkeling since I was about 10, so I was definitely in need of a refresher. Luckily, the other members of the tour were first time snorkelers, so I wasn’t the only fish out of water.
We got down to the beach and Matt showed us the trick of the backwards shuffle to get into the water with fins on. I was grateful there were other divers all doing the same thing, because I definitely felt a little ridiculous. Once I made it through the shock of cold that always comes with getting in the water past your torso though, those fins weren’t so clumsy anymore. There’s no description that quite captures what it feels like to dive under the water, gliding effortlessly, surrounded by the vast silence of blue. But it was magical. If you move just calmly enough, the fish will swim right up to you. I had a parrotfish brush against my fingers while several yellow grunts swam inquisitively up to my mask. Angelfish and sheepshead abounded. Under the water, the rest of the world disappears for a little while and you feel weightless, every movement graceful.
After we got back to the shop however, is when I discovered the greatest part of this whole experience and every millennial’s dream: Instagram worthy photos! Matt had been capturing photos and videos of the tour on his GoPro and was in the process of uploading them to Facebook for us. After all, what good is being a mermaid for a day if you can’t make all of your friends jealous?