Tag: Scuba

A Most Amazing Year

A Most Amazing Year

SimoneLipscombThis year brought me back to myself. That’s the short of it. Expanded the year’s summary includes rainbows of epic number and proportions, manatee rescues and encounters, humpback whales, whale sharks, sea lions, Dominican Republic-Silverbank, Bonaire, Mid-Riff Islands-Sea of Cortez, La Paz-Sea of Cortez, morning sea turtle nest patrol. It was a year packed full of Ocean and the intention of bridging humans and nature.

DSC_8937I recently read through the journal I kept while anchored 80 miles offshore for a week with humpback whales and noted that I was finally in my body, fully present with myself. That’s what the Ocean and its creatures do for me.

The past few months I’ve reflected on my work and life and what’s next. After taking the time to pause and listen deeply it’s clear that the ‘next step’ is simply deepening the work I’ve been doing and allowing it to expand with my complete attention and commitment.

IMG_1729Friends have shared powerful words with me lately that have touched deep places within me. Two in particular stand out.

Marianne Williamson said this: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world.” And Donna Faulds said, “Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?”

_TSL7226On Day Four of the New Year Yoga Challenge my teacher, Augusta, began class with the poem by Donna Faulds. This stayed in my consciousness as we progressed through the class: “Why wait for your awakening?…..Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?” At one point we were stepping and opening forward and backward into balance poses. As I breathed in and stepped forward it felt as if I was meeting Light and Breath and the quote echoed in my heart, “Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?” Then the music changed and the song, Marry Me, by Train began to play.

Tears flowed. I don’t pretend to understand the Great Mystery and can only share my experience. Today it felt as if an invitation to step toward It was extended and with every breath, every step and move into balance I said ‘yes‘ to the Sacred Marriage that happens when we are willing to partner with our Higher Self, our truest self…the Divine part of ourselves.

SimoneLipscomb (2)A couple months ago I was in a yoga class being taught by Sean Johnson and he posed a question for us to ponder in Child’s Pose at the beginning: What do you wish to manifest in your life? To be my true self completely, I whispered as tears rolled down my cheeks onto my mat.

_TSL7177As this year winds to a close it’s clear that the theme for me has been coming home to myself. Thanks to manatees, humpback whales, whale sharks, sea lions and friends, this has become a reality.

_TSL6631We were asked to set a one-word intention for the year at the beginning of today’s yoga class. Mine? Light. LIGHT! This new year is all about Light….Laughter and Love.

_TSL4724With gratitude and an open, humble heart I offer my thanks to all who gifted me with wisdom and support: the mother humpback whale who showed me pure peace, the deepest peace I could scarcely imagine; whale sharks whose gentle nature and grace was amplified through their gigantic forms; playful sea lions who reminded me to be outrageously open to fun; Magnolia manatee whose strong spirit strengthened me; the baby manatee and mother who embraced me–literally; friends who brought hours…days…of laughter in La Paz; the dream-team-last-kids-in-the-whale-shark-playground in Bahia de Los Angeles; yoga friends; neighbors; mom for loving my kitties so I could travel; those who supported my new book, Manatee Mindfulness; music friends; and for those mysterious friends whose invisible presence lifts me up….with a grateful heart I bow to you. May all of you and all beings be filled with peace and love.

SimoneLipscomb (15)Happy 2016!


Dream January 1st, 2016….4.45am: Amid a scene of judgment and confusion I stepped away and saw light beams coming from everything. They were coming from people, animals, plants and me. Yes, my friends, it’s gonna be a year of Light. Namaste.

Selfie at Sunrise, La Paz, Sea of Cortez
Selfie at Sunrise, La Paz, Sea of Cortez
The Gift of Laughter

The Gift of Laughter

SimoneLipscomb (2)The golden moon glade glittered brilliantly on the smooth sea. Flat, calm with only the slightest stirring of the surface, each ripple was a stair step toward meeting Her. In the distance She hung low in the sky, illuminating the pre-dawn sky. I timidly took a step toward the round, ripe Sea Moon Goddess and as I moved slowly toward Her, I left behind my earthly form and rose up on the wings of light.

_TSL6631An ending to a week of beauty and laughter so profound I feel transformed and more at home in my body than ever before. Each of the brothers and sisters I traveled with brought gifts and one connection in particular sparked a flame of laughter and joy that opened dark, closed places. The flame of light grew through liquid laughter that brought me back to life. Salt water, fresh water, floating fun-filled stories suspended in moments between sea and sky brought joy and laughter that invited me home.

_TSL6322I expected to enjoy diving with sea lions, snorkeling with whale sharks, attempting to capture the beauty of nature through underwater photography. I expected to meet people who would become friends. These expectations became realities.

_TSL6836The biggest surprise was feeling joy and laughter grow within me like a shooting star burning more brilliant with each breath. The number of side-splitting, snorting hilarities were too numerous to count…on the boat, at meals, floating in the pool, standing at the rinse bins.

_TSL7177I didn’t realize how my soul yearned for free and unbridled expression of joy. Too often we lose that connection within that keeps us in touch with our lightness of being.

_TSL7125This is the first trip in years on which I didn’t write extensively and in detail. This time I determined to simply stay present with the experience…watching the sun rise over the mountains, diving with sea lions and giant balls of silver fish, floating head to head with massive whale sharks…be present….be present…breathe.

_TSL7070My regular meditation practice, exercising and other daily rituals were set aside. The only consistent practice I did was to acknowledge beauty, open my heart and mind to it and feel the reciprocal return flow fill me. The more I sent love out to the arid mountains, the sea and creatures of the sea, the more love I felt fill me. This helped move the old, stuck patterns of behavior to a new, lighter expression of life that is all-inclusive of the darkest and lightest parts of myself.

_TSL7357As I fly over the desert of Baja and the Sea of Cortez, I already feel the absence of the physical presence of my new friends…one a brother who feels like another piece of stardust from the home planet. The gifts each one brought to my life are held within, treasures of light and laughter that will continue to transform me.

_TSL6851With a grateful heart full of love I promise myself to remember my happy place, the many happy places discovered on this magical adventure to Baja and the Sea of Cortez.

Los Islotes ShotMany locals say La Paz and Cabo San Lucas are greener than they’ve ever seen due to rain amounts 300% above normal. The many seeds and plants that waited in the dry, hot desert until nourishing rains supported their growth amaze me. There is a new understanding within of how it feels to burst forth in new growth when the right nourishment arrives. Laughter is a priceless gift and those who bring it are angels of light….whether in human or non-human form.


Sea of Cortez–Whale Sharks!

Sea of Cortez–Whale Sharks!

Friday: Whale Shark Day!
Friday: Whale Shark Day!

Thursday and Friday

We moved a bit north to Isla Sal Si Puedes. One of the dive masters said it means ‘get out while you can.’ How comforting. I miss Capilla de la Mar. Leaving the remote island means we are headed back to civilization.

This mountain island where we anchor is less jagged with smoother, greenish slopes. The softness of the terrain is a nice change and beaches are here, which is also a difference from other islands we have seen.

The warm glow of the sun–orange and golden in hue–set the edge of advancing clouds on fire. The cerulean sky provides the canvas on which this masterpiece is composed. Where else but immersed in nature can one find such beauty while being kissed by the wind?

Chilly temperatures on the first dive but the past two days we had 86 degree water. On the first dive I cannot get my macro lens to focus on the giant jawfish so after watching them for a while I gently lift away and find a starfish crawling over the sand. I spend the next ten minutes hovering quietly, watching a starfish walk about four or five inches. It is perhaps the most relaxing experience of the trip.

SimoneLipscomb (1)On board, between dives, my mind wanders. Perhaps the most important experience on this journey has been to visit these unspoiled places where Spirit and Nature commune with very little human intervention. The experience has unleashed an amazing amount of energy within me. The challenge is to keep it moving and freed as I return to what we call civilization…although I think it’s far from civilized living.

I write a short, humorous story on the giant jawfish and a children’s poem on starfish and then do a couple more dives. We have a nice dinner and then we head for the bay where whale sharks live.

IMG_0400I awaken before dawn and am on the upper deck by 5am. I am not ready to see the lights of civilization even though this is a small village. The twinkling lights of Bahia de los Angeles in the darkness sadden me. The wildness fades and human habitation begins. One more day, I think.

This bay and the surrounding mountains are exquisitely beautiful. Faint orange and gold luminescence of the dawn brighten the sky behind steep, towering cliffs. Flat, calm water reflects the fiery warmth of solar hues.

SimoneLipscombSmoke lies heavy in the air and creates a hazy wall between our anchorage and the village. Oh, that there would always be that smoke-screen barrier between raw nature and human chaos.

Pelicans are feeding in the quiet bay, their wings softly shushing past before they dive again and again for breakfast.

The gathering light reflects on the rock face of the mountain across the bay and now it too glows with magnificence. Definition of the cracks and folds in its face become more pronounced as the light builds.

Capilla de la Mar….my name for the island where I will live as a sea lion if given a chance.

I have decided that if I have an opportunity to return, after this life, as an animal I will be a sea lion living on Capilla de la Mar. It’s beautiful, there is plenty of fish, I will have many companions and will see few humans.

_TSL5389Whale shark day. Our group begins as six, adds three briefly and then ends with four of us. We are the ones who pretended not to hear the dive masters as we floated after the dives and explored the edges of the rocky shore snorkeling…after handing our scuba gear up to the panga captain. We are the four that had to be begged to get out of the water after each dive. The ones who begged our mothers for just five more minutes of play time. It was the same with whale sharks.

_TSL5498Tons of fun and a great workout! Whales sharks appear to be moseying along, gently and slowly moving their tales back and forth. When the dive masters told us we would have to swim to keep up, we had absolutely no clue what that meant. Especially considering three of the four of us were pushing huge cameras through the water.

_TSL5394Whale sharks are awesomely cool and completely unconcerned with humans. Even when I was eye-to-eye with them or swimming just inches behind them, they paid absolutely no attention to me or the others. I was so closely behind one twice that if she had paused, I would have been slapped in the face with her gigantic tale…providing I couldn’t slam on my ‘brakes.’ There isn’t a connection like sea lions or whales or dolphins make with snorkelers or divers when there is recognition and sometimes interaction. These sharks, these huge plankton feeders, basically ignore us.

So close with my fisheye I can't get the entire animal in frame...but the details pop!
So close with my fisheye I can’t get the entire animal in frame…but the details pop!

“Swim hard!” is the motto of the day. At one point a few of us stay in the water over an hour watching whale sharks come and go, mobula rays leap from the water in synchronized efforts and generally frolicking in the peaceful bay. I can’t imagine a better way to end the trip. Six hours of non-stop fun.

_TSL5368We kid our dive master later about our asking to be in his group on whale shark day. He knew he would be out with us as long as we could possibly play.

_TSL5409Another night spent motoring back to Rocky Point, Mexico and we arrive at sunrise. Within five hours I am experiencing my first indoor shower in a week and am shaving the saguaro cactus forest from my legs. Soap, shampoo, shaving….seems far too civilized for my raw, wild self.  Yet as a human being, I am rejoining the insanity of what we call civilization….kicking and screaming all the way. Can I just have five more minutes? Please!!


Sea of Cortez I

Sea of Cortez II

Sea of Cortez III

Sea of Cortez IV

Sea of Cortez V

Sea of Cortez V

Sea of Cortez V

_TSL5322Wednesday…I think

It’s a good adventure when the date is lost and the day of the week is unknown.

Another day at Isla San Pedro Martir. The first dive was in a little cavern swim through. We begin by going under and into the massive rock that makes this mountain island. Seven o’clock in the morning and we’re going into and under rock…a delightful way to begin the day.

Starfish and moray eel
starfish and moray eel

At the end of the dive I ascend to a shallow depth and hover. A beautiful, small moray eel is hiding deep in a rocky crevice. I mentally tell him I am not going to harass or hurt him. Then tears come. It feels as if the entire planet is hiding from the continued assaults on It from humans. I feel very sad that two-legged’s can be so aggressive and domineering.

_TSL5291Out of the blue, the person that continues to chase animals comes by chasing another turtle. I scream at him underwater. Another diver sees me and nods in agreement.

Then another encounter with a turtle and a nice dive buddy videoing her. We have a very pleasant and peaceful encounter with the turtle and each other. Complete contrast within a few minutes. I feel such mixed emotions.

_TSL5128It’s difficult for me to stay peaceful and compassionate when people harass animals.

_TSL5323On the way back to the boat, Juleo takes our panga into a perfectly formed arch. It reminds me of a chapel by appearance and energy. I think it’s a chapel for the Great Sea Mother. It feels like a central point of light for the entire region. I need the sweet energy of the chapel after feeling so upset by the aggressive diver.

I rename the island Capilla de la Mar…Chapel of the Sea. It seems to fit better than being named after some saint who came along long after the original occupant of the island…the Great Sea Goddess.

One the second dive I feel the calming influence of Cappilla de la Mar and the magnificent feminine energy presence. I hear, “Yes, child. Even here you are mine. Your love translates to all waters of the planet.”

A bull sea lion comes down to check us out but doesn’t bark. He just cruises us.

_TSL5283While diving I ponder the idea of aggressive, argumentative, arrogant people and I cringe. So opposite of what I want to attract to my life. The sea lions teach me about joy and I know there is choice about what kind of people I bring into my life.

Toward the end of the second dive a tiny, tiny black and yellow puffer fish comes up to mask and hovers at my nose. The precious little creature doesn’t appear upset but simply stays at my nose and makes eye contact. Such a brave, little soul. An explorer of her kind.

Dive deck...blue-footed booby took a walk through
dive deck…blue-footed booby took a walk through

After lunch I’m walking along the starboard side of the boat and encounter a blue-footed booby walking toward me. He can’t spring up over the rail to fly so I run around, through the center of the boat, and come out another door behind him. I gently coax him to the stern of the boat, through the dive deck, down the stairs to the platform where he watches the pangas floating behind the boat. He hesitates, a wave washes over his feet, and then he takes off. No camera. Nobody to even witness this amazing encounter so it’s just the booby’s word and mine. We have a nice conversation, although it was rather one-sided.

After the third dive and dinner, friends are diving and I once-again ride along to watch the moonrise over the sea. The brilliant orange and turquoise hues of the sunset are fading as we motor the short distance in the panga.

_TSL5199The almost half moon light casts a beautiful, soft, white glow on the huge, white cliffs. It seems as if the entire island is alive with white light.

So quiet and peaceful it is on the water, in the shadow of the moon cliff. I feel so at home here. The thought of civilization makes me break out in anxious waves of dread. Civilization is so over-rated.

I manage to stay in the present moment and forget being anywhere but here, in the shadow of a glowing, ragged mountain rising up from the sea.

The moonlight grows in intensity and as we drift, I glance up and see an enormous shadow on the mountain created by the cliff face and moonlight. It appears to be a woman standing with her arms outstretched facing the sea. We are near the Capilla de la Mar arch. In my mind she appears to have long, flowing hair of seaweed with a leather band holding it at her forehead. Her skirt is woven of feathers and dried strands of sea weed and bits of shells. Her tunic is woven of white shells and pearls. Her outstretched palms face the sea she she says, Come to me.

In a moment a female sea lion exhales close to the boat, comes up and touches the boat and stays with us for a while. The magical woman and the sea lion seem connected.

I sense the Great Mother as the giver of life, love and joy…the light that comes from unparalleled joy.

Phosphorescent jelly fish illuminate the surface of the black water. Their other-worldly green strands float in the cove, in the sea in wild geometries. They appear as beacons of Her light…her joy.  My joy.


Sea of Cortez I

Sea of Cortez II

Sea of Cortez III

Sea of Cortez IV



Sea of Cortez IV…Beware the Inner Kraken!

Sea of Cortez IV…Beware the Inner Kraken!

IMG_0372Tuesday July 21st, 2015

The second largest sea lion colony in the Sea of Cortez is located at our current location. The island is dark brown rock and covered with bird droppings that make it appear as thick icing on a cake. Strange metaphor perhaps.

Isla San Pedro Martir is one of the most remote islands in the Sea of Cortez. There are little stone walls built  in the ‘V’ areas of the mountain and after inquiry I find that in the late 19th and early 20th century the bird guano (poop) was mined and shipped as far as Europe to be used as fertilizer. No kidding…there is a LOT of ‘white icing’ on this mountain island.

_TSL5051Diving Pacific waters, even a body of water like the Sea of Cortez, is so different from Caribbean diving. There is no hard coral reef but rather rocks and underwater cliffs. It looks very different yet supports an amazing variety of life, including soft corals and colorful fish.

_TSL5075Taking it easy another day by snorkeling on dive two. I bring along my GoPro instead of The Beast, my big Nikon/Aquatica camera and housing, and finally give up the GoPro to just play with sea lions. As I float and frolic in the 86 degree water in shorts and a rash guard, I am blissed to the max.

_TSL5142Turning somersaults, doing barrel rolls and other silly antics lights up the already playful pinnipeds. The more I play, the more they come play with me. They come so close that our eyes make contact. Beautiful, round, big eyes gazing into mine creates a lot of joy within this two-legged gal.

I watch divers ten feet or so below me for a while as they interact with the marine mammals and decide to leave the protection of the cove and swim along the wall of the island. As I do, nine (yes…9) sea turtles greet me. Because I’m not making bubbles on scuba they come incredibly close and of course my GoPro is on the boat. In pairs, trios or solo they cruise by me. One green sea turtle doesn’t hear or see me and comes within inches of my mask…until I giggle. The sound scares her and she jumps and moves away from the giggling flotsam.

Gil, our dive master, greeting the sea lions.
Gil, our dive master, greeting the sea lions.

The final dive of the day is epic. It’s near the end of the hour-long submersion and the huge male sea lion that has barked the entire dive, rushes our dive master and makes a couple of us gasp at the aggression. No biting or contact but it is an intense rush of big male sea lion energy. We settle ourselves and become very still and the girls dive in to play.

_TSL5156I cannot EVER recall having this much fun. Female sea lions twirling and zooming right up to me, within inches of my own twirling hands and barrel rolling self. I think Zoom is the only speed they know. Completely hilarious and crazy fun. And I am in awe at the lightning fast speed and agility of these creatures. I feel like a complete klutz compared to them.

Photo bombed by a sea turtle
Photo bombed by a sea turtle..well, I never!

Since I’m feeling better I got to do three dives today. While that’s wonderful, I saw bad diver behavior that is worth mentioning…if only to pass along the stories for divers that might be tempted to misbehave.

A good dive buddy, Eladio, checking his Aquatica housing for video perfection.

Cruising along a wall on dive two, I glance up to see a huge sea turtle swimming very hard and she looked upset. I’ve never seen a sea turtle so angry-looking. And she was flying…never seen one go so fast. What in the world could have scared that turtle? I wonder. A few moments later a guy that had been aggressively swimming after everything that moved came behind the turtle. No excuse for that kind of harassment. Why is it that some humans think because they have two legs and a camera they can behave atrociously toward wildlife? (The remaining comments about his behavior are safely recorded in my journal and not printable).

Never found out which diver this is but she was crushing soft coral without concern...grrr.
Never found out who this is but she is crushing soft coral without concern.

On an earlier dive today I photographed a woman laying on soft coral seemingly without a care as she attempted to photograph some poor creature. I’ll finish my mini-rant with this: If you can’t control your buoyancy, leave the camera on the boat until you can hover without squishing soft coral and the homes of other creatures…or the creatures themselves. Hone your dive skills so you don’t kill more than you photograph. And if you think it’s okay to pull, tug, chase or otherwise harass marine creatures…it’s NOT! But don’t listen to me….one day, when one takes a bite out of your hand or your neck or your leg, please don’t whine or complain.

Me and the Sea...the Sea of Cortez
Me and the Sea…the Sea of Cortez…before releasing my inner Kraken.


My main concern about coming on this trip was it was advertised as an underwater photography trip. Photographers who take their craft underwater can be notoriously destructive and aggressive. I saw those behaviors but I also saw very caring, loving individuals who have total respect for ocean life and have good dive skills as well. Never, ever should ‘getting a shot’ outweigh decent and respectful underwater behavior. I am generally a very peace-loving, laid-back person but don’t mess with sea life because you will awaken my Inner Kraken.


Sea of Cortez I

Sea of Cortez II

Sea of Cortez III