Continued from Part I
You see, mahi, as open water fish are prone to do, seek cover underneath and beside any floating object that they can find. This mahi is no exception. He has seen manfish before, swimming gracefully below the surface and sporting deadly appendages that send out flashing darts, impaling his comrades. Under normal circumstances the mahi would keep his distance from any manfish that he saw. But he is now desperate and willing to consider anything. Furthermore, the mahi observes that this particular manfish is so bloated that it can only bob at the surface. Has it fed recently? Apparently not, since the manfish is so weak that it swims no faster than sargassum and can only vaguely wag its worthless rubbery flippers. The mahi seizes the moment and races for cover.
For a moment poor manfish is confused. Where has the mahi has gone? Why are the false killers now so keenly interested in him, swimming so closely and showing their teeth? The false killers are in manfish‘s face now, pinging him with their sonar and looking very agitated. The FK’s repeatedly swim off, turn and rush hard at the frightened little manfish. The false killers are smiling. Smiling with their famous false killer teeth. This is strange, manfish thinks, why are the FK’s suddenly acting like this?
A flash of gold and green catches my eye. Holy shit, the mahi is next to me! When did this happen? Either this mahi is the most frightened fish I have ever seen, or the most fearless, or both. It dawns on me, too late, that the mahi is using me for cover. I am insulted to think that I could, even for a moment, be mistaken for drift garbage or a stray fishing net. I realize that I have been outfoxed, that this fish knows exactly what it is doing, and that I am not only his protection but an alternate and perhaps preferable food source for the false killers. I punch at the mahi to get him away from me. The fish is too quick. I end up punching nothing but water, hard, and my shoulder starts to hurt. If I had a speargun I would serve this mahi some cold steel for having put me in this position. The guys on the boat are laughing. One of my fins is slipping off from my backpedaling. The fish is laughing.
It is assumed that when large toothed cetaceans are playing with something, they do not appreciate an interloper who comes along and takes their toy away. From the perspective of the false killer whales, I had just taken their ball and might be getting ready to go home. They were considering how to get their ball back, as well as whether I too might be some form of toy or food. Trying to explain to them that the ball just rolled over to me on its own accord was not an option.
Try as I might, I cannot keep a steady shot of the false killers as they corkscrew around and underneath me trying to get at the mahi. My fins keep getting in my way and theirs. Occasionally the mahi swims across the camera, two inches in front of the lens, but for the most part he does an admirable job of keeping me between himself and the false killers. I begin to make my way back to the boat, hoping that no other false killers show up. As I near the swim step, I look down to see the mahi hiding between my fins. I try to swipe at the fish with one of my fins, cutting the fin through the water sideways like a knife as hard as I can. I miss the fish and the sharp edge of my fin caroms off my other ankle. I cannot swear because of the water that has leaked into the top of my snorkel and is now coming out my nose and causing me to choke. The mahi ditches me for the boat. I feel used. The false killers stay on my heels as I shoot out of the water onto the swim step. No one is there to assist me with the camera, they are high-fiving on deck and laughing too hard.