Rebecca Silvey

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Excitement flows over me as I stand at the bow of the SSV Robert C. Seamans, the square-rigged research sailboat currently gliding through the dark ocean night. Salty air fills my nose and surrounds me like a blanket. All I can hear is the lapping of the waves made as our boat cuts through the sea. It is 2AM but my mind races with anticipation like it was the middle of the afternoon. I try with all of my might to take in everything around me but the darkness tests my eyes. I look up and my breath catches as I see one, two, three shooting stars. Orion is setting as Leo is rising. Who ever knew there were this many stars, galaxies, infinite celestial bodies?

I am alone with the night and the ocean. The fear of what might lie beyond is only a mere whisper in the back of my mind. On the bow I am away from the others who are sailing with me. I am comforted by the idea that millions of animals are swimming along with me, though they may be hidden by the absence of light.

I want to pull back the curtain of mystery and peak into that marine world.  As I gaze down into the abyss of water around me, it appears that the sky is reflected in the sea. Looking closer, I realize that what I am seeing in the water isn’t the mirrored image of the stars, but tiny creatures glowing by themselves. The boat stirs up the ocean causing sparkles of green, turquoise, amber, and blue.

My thoughts are interrupted by a high pitched whistle. I know that sound. It warms my heart and assures me that I am in good company. I peer into the water beneath the bow and there they are; my friends, the dolphins. They make low leaps in the small wake of our boat. They rouse up the blazing diatoms and plankton into a frenzy of light. The dolphins themselves appear to radiate, mimicking green sea monsters of lore. Their bodies caress the minute marine animals that are floating along with them. Breathing when they surface, their breath joins the song of the night.

Standing on the bow I can feel the links between them all; the stars that guide us, the phosphorescent microorganisms at the base of the food chain, the dolphins dancing through our wake.  An orchestra of twinkling lights is conducted by our boat. The mast plucks the strings of the stars while the waves urge the sea creatures into a chorus. I know that I must preserve this wonder. I know I must do all I can to share this amazement with those who have not yet felt it. I know this is where I am meant to be.

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