On A Single Breath
Christina Saenz de Santamaria
I take a final breath and slip beneath the surface, absolutely focused. I can feel the pressure change, hear the sounds of life around me and concentrate on my movements to ensure a relaxed, yet very aware, state of mind.
We live on the small tropical island of Koh Tao in Thailand, however we spend much of the year travelling, freediving and exploring these incredible oceanic environments.
Freediving with the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins
One such trip took us sailing along the the Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawaii when we spent two nights anchored in the gorgeous sweeping Kealakekua Bay, (the bay in which Captain Cook died). This meant that we were able to experience two liberating mornings freediving with a local pod of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins. We prepared ourselves each sunrise as the dolphins made their way into the bay after a night out feeding at sea, where the dolphins would use the shallow bay during the day for protection, play and rest.
The moment we dived into the water, the dolphins came to us with curious eyes and playfulness. We were always careful to allow the dolphins to come to us, which they always would. Regardless, with a flick of a tail they could choose to leave us if they wished. The pod was over 60 strong and would spend the morning following us, playing tag with a leaf in the water, mimicking our movements and do what dolphins do, openly mate with one another. The intelligence of these graceful underwater mammals is unquestionable when you have been eye to eye with one. Our experience with the wild dolphins is simply captivating and enchanting.
The moment we dived into the water, the dolphins came to us with curious eyes and playfulness. We were always careful to allow the dolphins to come to us, which they always would. Regardless, with a flick of a tail they could choose to leave us if they wished.
Freediving the Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula
Last July we travelled to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Deep within the jungle are thousands of cavernous openings to a watery otherworld, also known as cenotes. Created over centuries and deeply connected to the enigmatic Mayan civilisation, the cenotes are a complex of mysterious sinkholes and underwater caves in the porous coral limestone of the peninsula. The cenotes are deeply embedded within ancient Mayan mythology as portals to the netherworld and as settings for sacrificial offerings.
Freediving the cool waters of the cenotes is an otherworldly experience. Stalactites and stalagmites created a jagged underwater world for us to explore. We were captivated by the dramatic cathedral light that pierced the jungle canopy and sliced through the cool crystalline waters. The incredible dark depths below beckoned us, however the true depths of the cenotes remained unknown due to the eerie swirling white cloud, known as a halocline, which hovered at 30 metres, a reaction created by the meeting layers of salt water and fresh water.
Freediving and exploring the cenotes of the Yucatan was magical and surreal, which are sensations that we tried to express through our photography.
The incredible dark depths below beckoned us, however the true depths of the cenotes remained unknown due to the eerie swirling white cloud