It's immense, overwhelmingly immense. I'm in the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere halfway between La Gomera and Tenerife, floating, with diving mask, snorkel and fins. Although I'm not alone in the water and there's a zodiac somewhere nearby, I feel small, insignificant, alone. The coast is far away, on both sides, the calm ocean all around and when I look down into the water there's nothing, only blue, getting darker deep below me. It almost frightens me, gives me a sense of vertigo, as if I could fall into that depth. I yank my head out of the water and breathe fast, shallow and for a moment I have to fight my fear. But then reason wins out again, I'm floating, I can't fall here. Still it's imposing.
When I stick my head in the water again, I hear them, soft clicks, whistles, tapping noises. There is meaning in them, but I can't decipher them. To me they are just noises. And then, far below me, a dark shape appears. It's a pilot whale, a big male, slowly coming up to the surface, gracefully, cautiously, checking me out. After a few moments he moves on and disappears into the blue, leaving me behind, alone again.
For a few moments there's nothing, just the sounds of their conversations. Then, all of a sudden a young one appears, curiously approaching me. Mother follows, places herself between me and her child. They start to circle, child turning and twisting to get a better view, mother close by, as mothers do, to stop her baby from getting too close and protect it from harm. Their conversation intensifies, as if they're talking about us watching them.
In my mind I hear them talking.
"Mama, what are those clumsy odd looking creatures, splashing around on the surface?"
"That, my dear, are humans."
"They look so small and harmless mama, I bet they can't out-swim even a jellyfish."
"Looks can be deceiving my child, they're usually harmless out here, but they can be dangerous."
"I think they're funny."
For a few more minutes they stay to observe, closer and closer, until I can almost touch them. And then they're gone, off into that enormous blue vastness. What remains is an impression of beauty, of elegance and intelligence. That, and the realisation, that I am utterly, totally tiny.