I had chosen to explore the reefs about the North Pole of Tau Ceti. The island itself was small, but the icecap was rather large. One dove either through a hole in the ice or from a boat. I did several days of shallow shore diving through holes in the ice before moving onto a boat to dive the deeper reefs at the edge of the ice.
The water temperature was roughly three degrees Celsius year round. It made for extremely clear water. There was a great deal of plankton, and large and substantial schools of fish of varying sizes, from small to large, thriving on these reefs. The commercial potential of these fish had not yet been explored or determined. I was doing two dives a day, from the boat, in the bitterly cold water. My diving had been limited to thirty meters, but I wanted to go much deeper and see the variety of marine life that made this reef system in to a metropolitan area of the underwater world.
I was taking my first dive of the day. It was my fifth day of diving from the boat, and I was enjoying myself immensely. I signaled to my partner to go deeper, and he refused. I checked my rebreather. I wanted to go to roughly 300 meters, where the water would be very dark and the fish generated their own illumination. I would have, at most, four minutes at that depth with no safety margin on my ascent. I decided to chance it. I waved my partner away, pointed my feet up, my head down, and kicked my scooter on full.
You see, I had seen the photographs of these marvelous fish, taken from a deep-water submarine. I wanted to see them for myself.
They looked, in the photographs, like fish outlines, composed of perfect diamond chips, on deep, dark, and perfect velvet, with just a splash of color. I let the scooter pull me into the cold, dark, and quiet deep.