Snake in the Grass

We caught a jeepney from Bogo north to Maya, a city on the northern tip of Cebu Island and from there jumped on a banka boat bound for Malapascua Island where we planned to complete our Advanced Open Water diving course. Malapascua is a small, sandy patch of land covered in palm trees, and renowned for being the best place in the world to scuba dive with thresher sharks. I had been there about 5 years ago on another trip before Typhoon Haiyan devastated the region in 2013. The island looked quite a bit different since the last time I was there. Many of the trees had been snapped in half during the storm and all the roofs on the buildings that weren’t brand new consisted of mangled metal sheets and broken wooden supports; a result of the 300+ km/hr winds. Upon arrival we checked into the budget option at our dive resort and met our instructor for the next day, an Englishman named Dan who seemed quite convinced one of the domestic tourists at the resort was actually a government spy sent to deport him for receiving wages while in the country on a tourist visa.

We decided to have a snorkel just off the beach in front of our room and swam out to look at all the small creatures living in the sea grass. We were 100 meters or more from the beach in the shallow water and were having a great time diving down to the sea floor and taking pictures of boxfish and starfish with the GoPro. At one point I had my back turned to Emily and suddenly heard a scream through the water. Alarmed and unsure what was about to unfold I spun around and saw her frantically splashing around yelling about a snake. I looked down and saw a five foot black and white banded sea krait swimming about 2 meters below us, one of the most venomous in the world. Several seconds later I felt a searing pain on my shoulder and down my back, unmistakably a jellyfish. With no idea what type of jellyfish it was and how bad the reaction would be we swam back in to shore. It left a red welt on my back that stung for a while but it ended up not being bad.

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