Maybe something had bitten me, or I’d cut myself on the reef. I looked down at my arm to see if there was any blood, but there was nothing, just a throbbing pain.
I rubbed it, which turned out to be one of the worst things I could have done as it served to rub the poison into my bloodstream. By now the pain seemed to be numbing out a bit so I thought, “I’ll just get a crayfish
and then I’ll go back and ask the boy at the boat what it was.”
I didn’t want to get paranoid; I knew it was very important for my own safety as a diver not to panic.
So I went to get a crayfish. As I was diving under again I saw these same jellyfish creatures that I'd seen a few minutes ago. Two of them were slowly, eerily, pulsating towards me with their long tentacles swirling behind them. Out of the corner of my eye I saw their tentacles brush past my arm. As they touched my arm, I was again jolted by an incredible electric shock. It just about knocked me for a six in the water. I suddenly realised what it was that had hit me the first time!
I knew from my lifesaving experience that some jellyfish are incredibly poisonous.
As a child I had hay fever, and had such bad allergic reactions that if I got stung by a bee my leg would swell up like a balloon.
Now I began feeling alarmed because I’d had two separate stings from these jellyfish.
I broke the surface of the water, gasping for air, and lifted my head to look for the boat. The storm clouds were settling in and making everything dark. I could just make the boat out further down the reef.
I put my arm behind my back to get it out of the water. I didn’t want it to be stung again. Then I began to swim in the direction of the reef, trying to fight off the terror I was feeling. As I swam I felt something slide over my back and then another huge shock pulsed through my arm. Looking round I saw tentacles falling off. I’d been stung by a third one!
I put my flashlight back into the water to keep an eye on the reef and to my horror my flashlight beam went straight down through a soup of these jellyfish. I thought, “If one of these hits my face, I don’t think I’ll ever get back to the boat”. So I put the flashlight up near my face and swam for all I was worth.
Finally I made it back to the boat where I desperately questioned the young boy in my best French and Creole, asking if he knew what the jellyfish were.
He didn’t know because he wasn’t a diver, he just shook his head and he pointed to my friend Simon in the water. So I had to get back into the water and swim over to him.
I could see him underwater, so I flashed my light into his face to get his attention. He came up to the surface, and I exclaimed to him “I want to get out!” I put my head into the water to swim back to the boat and right in front of my face there was another jellyfish surging at me. I had to choose, it was either going to hit my face or my arm. So I lifted my arm up and took another agonising sting to my arm as I pushed it away. Then I struggled out on to the reef.
to be cont'd