The jumping Sand Mystery

Now I do quite a few dives as a guide and I sometimes see things that I’m not quite sure whether I really saw that or whether nitrogen was playing tricks there. And so I ask others if they’ve seen it too, hoping it wasn’t a nitrogen hallucination. This was also the case at the beginning of my career as a guide, when I thought I saw the sand moving.

An urchins arm…

We were in the south and I dived with about 8 people at Abu Galawa Sorayar in the Red Sea. I love that site and prefer to dive it on the second morning dive because the light is great then. Maximum depth is 15 meters and after viewing the reef and wreck on the outside you can go to the lagoons inside. And that’s exactly what our plan was. So we jumped off the dive deck into the water and were the first to visit the small sailing yacht on the west side. The wreck itself isn’t very interesting, but the life it attracts is.

Juvenile scorpionfish

Small shrimps that like to jump on your hands to clean your skin, snails that crawl here and there on the sand, a stray stonefish, that sort of thing. Now that wreck is very small and so you sometimes have to wait until it’s your turn to visit it and so does that dive. I waited quietly with my group for our other unguided divers to finish and I was hovering just above the sandy bottom and then I saw it.

Did that sand move? huh? Or was it a bit of current or bad fin techniques from a diver? I had no idea and pointed it to a diver behind me. She obviously didn’t understand what I was talking about haha. She must have thought; the guide is narced. And to be honest, when I asked others after the dive, I came to the same conclusion; I was probably narced. They say that nitrogen narcosis can take place from 20 meters, but that is of course not a given. And so I let go of the thought of moving sand.

Now I am usually quite busy during a dive as I have to watch out for my guests, monitor any changing water conditions, spot some beautiful life and of course navigate the reef. So I generally don’t have time to look up and view extensive sand, so it took some time until I saw that sand moving again. This time it was even further south and now I could see it clearly. They were like jumping grains of sand, really, and when you get close they stop.

Another unknown species…

Now I am getting older by a day and am gradually getting into the regions that my vision is diminishing somewhat. Not that I see very blurry, but some details are difficult, especially when they are the size of grains of sand. And now to make sure I wasn’t the only one who saw that, I ran up to some of my guests to show it. At first they didn’t understand what I meant, but with some hopping handsignals and some grains of sand in my hand, they got an idea. And yes, they saw it too, so it wasn’t narcosis, luckily.

During this dive we were again quite shallow and the stretch of sand we were looking at was surrounded by small coral blocks, keeping the sand itself out of the current. It is always useful to view such details as currents, light, existing corals and other life, because animals under water like to live under certain conditions. And once you know them, it becomes easier to find these animals again. So from that moment on, every time I had a chance, I went looking for it. And I can tell you that I’ve seen these creatures more than once since, although it took a few years for me to have a camera with me to capture it. With a huge macro lens and a lot of zooming in I managed to take both a photo and a video. Fortunately now I have footage and so I can ask others if they know what it is. The very experienced guides said I saw ghosts as none of them noticed. Fortunately I still had the pictures and I have emailed them left and right and posted them on the necessary social media, but so far without any clarity about what it is.

Do you know?

So you see, there is still a lot to discover in the water and that others do not know about it does not mean that you are imagining things. Do you have an idea what it could be? I think it is an animal that uses grains of sand to make some kind disguise. They jump up and down a bit and so far I have only seen them in a group. Although you have to wonder whether a single jumping grain of sand would catch my eye.

So it will remain a mystery for now, unless you know what it is.

Love life… Blow Bubbles…

Anke Westerlaken