Sunshine. Clear blue waters. Chicken marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, green peppers and onions roasting over an open fire. Add to this recipe two truck loads of energetic third graders that love their teachers and life and you’ve got a barbecue oceanside to be rivaled. We had plenty of fun this past week when my third grade class headed out to the southern tip of Ebeye for an end of quarter Beach Party to celebrate their hard work this past school year.
We decided to venture out – we being Laura, Miriam (my sweet little third grader) and me – to the edge of the coral where the ocean waves were breaking. During high tide we would need a boat, but low tide lent itself perfectly for some exploring.
Along the way, we came across some interesting creatures and scenes. In the distance the ocean breaks over the coral ‘drop’ wall that runs around the island.
One thing I learned was that construction crews, at one time, planted explosives into the coral bed to blow out chunks of rock to be used to build the causeway which now connects Ebeye with Gueggegue island. In doing this, the explosives left huge open ‘pools’ in the reef that become swimming pools when high tide moves out. Beautiful and haunting oceanscapes to say the least.
There were dozens of these pools that we found ourselves weaving around as we made our way out to the breaking waves.
We caught all kinds of little sea creatures with our camera lens. But that was about as close as we ventured to some of the strange life we saw crouched in the little coral pools and hiding under rocks.
Completely friendly, this star fish that Miriam is holding is called a Brittle Star. It’s always a good time for some educational input.
There were sea cucumbers strewn about everywhere, as far as the eye could see. While on our exploratory excursion across the sea bed, we met a friendly local who spoke some broken English. He was collecting sea cucumbers to cook and sell and asked us a few questions concerning our homeland and visit to the islands. He was dark and thin, cigarette tucked handily behind his right ear. He handled himself like he knew what he was doing out here amidst the exploded coral pits, slug-strewn reef and foreign-to-me world. One thing’s for sure, the Marshallese know these teeming oceans like Americans know rush hour traffic: what’s hazardous and the best way to avoid it is paramount.
Here’s a fine example of a lovely, yet hazardous Blue Black sea urchin. Poisonous, it’s menacing look prompted us to stay away – except for a quick dip with my camera. It’s spikes are hard as steel and are used to chip away at the coral to make little ‘nests’ for them to hide and stab things…like fish. It wasn’t going to get any of us that’s for sure!
As far out as I felt comfortable venturing with a little one in tow, I dipped my camera underwater one last time capturing some interesting footage.
We headed back to shore but not without some lasting memories of a stroll across a fantastical seascape. God certainly made this world and all its inhabitants with such creativity and wonder. I stand amazed at his ingenious creations. So detailed, so painstakingly thought over, down to the last whip of color, perfectly placed spike or carefully contoured edge of a leaf. Absolutely beautiful. Absolutely God.