I already knew the underwater world was an alien environment after doing hundreds of dives, but little did I know that it could transform me into a Vulcan. Sure, I tend to look at things a bit more logically than most, but this was completely unexpected.
I was diving in a bay at the north end of Mindoro island in the Philippines, about 80 miles south of Manila. The primary reason for our trip was really to visit my wife’s family as she originally hails from the Manila area, but I couldn’t come to this part of the world without a side trip to do some diving too.
We must have timed our trip well, as I nearly had a dive guide to myself on most dives. On this dive it was just myself and my helpful guide Romel. Our goal was finding seahorses, unlikely creatures that are ungainly in the water. A horse’s head, kangaroo body, possum tail, all outfitted with fins will do that to you. Of course scuba divers aren’t exactly torpedoes in the water either.
The sea bottom was flat, with brownish-yellow sand, occasional rocks, pieces of wood, and bits of coral scattered around. Despite my experience, I wasn’t having much luck finding the critters. On the other hand, Romel seemed to have seahorse radar. He found multiple seahorses several times before I even spotted one. Once he’d point them out it was, “well of course, that seems obvious now.” It’s not like they were pigmies either, these guys were 4-5 inches long, and came in greys, yellows, and greens. Just the right colors to blend into the sea floor and the sticks and plants they’d normally be attached to. By the time we finished, Romel must have found 10-12. I found two.
So what does that have to do with becoming a Vulcan?
This class of dive is sometimes called a “muck dive”, because instead of being on a full blown reef you’re out in the sand and mud, looking for itty bitty critters. In addition to looking for the fishy little horses, I’d sometimes turnover a rock or something to see what might be under it. One rock had an unexpectedly sharp edge, and I cut myself enough to leak a small amount of blood. The surprising thing was, my blood looked green!
Star Trek fans will know that Mr. Spock, an alien from the planet Vulcan and paragon of logic, rather than having red, iron based blood has green, copper based blood. Somehow, while mucking about, looking for seahorses and other small creatures in an alien environment, I’d magically become a Vulcan, green blood and all!
A creative storyteller would probably just quit now. But being the logical sort (even before my conversion to ersatz Vulcan) , I feel obliged to offer a rational explanation to my green blood.
When light enters water, the water absorbs the warmer color wavelengths first; reds, then oranges, then yellows as you go deeper. Cooler colors like blues and greys get scattered. We were diving in fairly shallow water, maybe 30 feet or so, so we’d already lost the reds and probably the oranges, but still had some yellows, greens, etc. Since the color of an object is really just the color of wavelengths it reflects, my blood must have had some properties that reflected the remaining green wavelengths.
But that’s not nearly as fun as the idea that as I descend into that alien environment, I became part alien myself.