It was the moment she had been waiting for. And yet, when the time came, she just couldn’t do it.



“Jump!” he repeated.

“No,” she replied, suddenly afraid.

Until a few months ago, 45-year-old Uma Mani hadn’t even known how to swim. Yet now she had set out to dive into the deep sea.Then suddenly the dive master gave her a nudge and she flipped backwards from the boat into the deep dark waters.

The cool water embraced her like a mother, and gentle currents rocked her as if the sea was singing a lullaby. She swam to the sea floor to see for herself what she had dreamed of for years – the brilliant colours and fantastic shapes of a coral reef.

Swimming over the reef, she marvelled at the table coral – bigger than a dining table, with edges that looked exactly like white lace. She exclaimed at one that even looked like a biryani pot. And the fishes! She found herself in the middle of a school of fish that was almost 1.5 kilometres long! “I couldn’t even see the water,” she said with wonder.

And from the moment she stepped into their underwater realm she became a life- long crusader of coral reefs.A crusade that wasn’t as…

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