my nick

In 1992, I did my dive course on the Great Barrier Reef in Nth Queensland. The guy I was buddied up with had a few problems making his first open water descent and I ended up sitting on the bottom of the ocean all by myself, waiting for the rest of the dive party to join me.

This was the most amazing experience and even now, as a seasoned diver, sitting on the bottom of the ocean never fails to thrill me.

I digress, anyway I was down at about 18 metres, by myself and watching in the distance, a school of Black Tip Reef sharks circling a coral outcrop, when I saw a shadow out of the corner of my eye. It was large and it was approaching me.

It was the largest fish I had ever come face to face with and face to face we were. It stopped an arms length away and it was eyeballing me, with an eye that was bigger than mine.

I had no idea what to do. We were told about sharks, stingrays, stonefish and lots of other dangers. We weren't told about eyeballing fish that appeared out of the blue.

It didn't appear to be worried about me, either that I would hurt it or be moderately tasty. It just hovered there and looked. After a moment, I decided to see if I could touch it and how it would react.

What happened next surprised me very much. It moved against my hand and propelled itself along. Much as a cat would when rubbing itself around your legs. Turning and running back along my hand. Again, as a cat would.

I was spellbound. Here was a fish, almost as big as me and it was luxuriating in being stroked.

It was the most amazing looking fish too. Really dumb in a rather cute way. It's lips were huge, it's eyes swivelled in different directions and looked like they were about to pop out and it had a huge hump on it's head. The colours on it were wonderful. Basic green with electric blue and purple stripes that changed and shimmered as it turned.

I became braver and discovered the fish liked to be scratched under the chin and would happily allow both hands on and around it. It showed no fear until the rest of the dive class eventually joined us and it then moved off to a safe distance.

It stayed in the background watching us and throughout the rest of our time on that site, it made it's presence known, visiting the boat for food scraps and generally hanging around.

I found out the fish I had fallen in love with was a Giant Moari Wrasse, also known as a Napoleon or Hump Headed Wrasse.

 

Two years later I returned to the GBR for another dive trip, meeting more of these delightful fish during those dives also.

My experience with the Moari Wrasse led to my desire to celebrate it somehow. To that end I took the nick 'Wrasse' and have used it ever since.

I also took the plunge and got my first work of bady art. My Wrasse tattoo.

   

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