Photo by Ty Sawyer
I love walls. I love the feeling of finning over the lip and feeling my stomach fall, the feeling that I'm flying as I hover off the edge, looking down into the abyss. I love the unpredictability of a wall, of what will rise from the depths, of the possibilities.
Along walls in the Caribbean I've seen hammerheads, spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, sailfish, manta rays, reef sharks, schools of tarpon and even a whale shark. So as we boarded the PADI Dive Center Sea Ventures dive boat at Copamarina, in Guanica, Puerto Rico, to head out to the La Parguera Wall, all these thoughts were ricocheting through my noggin.
Just off this southwest coast of Puerto Rico awaits a 22-mile undersea wall packed with loads of untapped dives. All along the top of the wall as we swim from the mooring to the edge we find little oases, marine-life wayposts. Some of my favorites where I'll come back to off-gas are the bowls, little amphitheaters of action. In most, you'll have a sandy bottom with yellow-headed jawfish, stingrays and other sand dwellers, and in rings around the sand you'll get mini-walls with arches, small undercuts and other hidey-holes for snapper, bigeyes, squirrelfish, eels, lobster and other shade-dwelling denizens. The mini-walls even glow with red encrusting sponges, and sea rods and sea fans sway on top of the walls.
But it's the precipice that we came for. And here at a site called Fallen Rock, it drips almost straight down. The site was named after a big chunk of the wall that broke free. At about 120 feet, we swim around this mini-ecosystem. It's covered with black corals and sponges, and packed with color. Marine life moves in, and from, every direction. The rock is like a three-ring circus, and as with circus, I ascend wanting more. Bottom time is too limited at these depths with air.
I pass over the lip on the ascent and play about in the fishbowls, immersed in and mesmerized by the movements of so many fish, until I run out of bottom time. There are 21.8 miles of the wall left to explore. And once again, my head bends toward the possibilities.