An international team of scientists and artists this week will test the seawater on Blacktip Island’s scuba dive sites to determine the precise number of blue shades the water contains.
“The question’s confounded scientists and scuba divers for decades,” Tiperon University-Blacktip hydrogeology professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “Is it the standard five-shade range we’ve heard about on dive boats, or is closer to the 17-shade scale our electron spectrophotometers seem to indicate?
“Our goal’s to catalogue every separate and distinct color here,” Mojarra said. “The next step’ll be to send our water samples to the Smithsonian for use as a baseline for any future water color cataloging worldwide.”
Island tourism workers and visitors embraced the news.
“We get tired of hearing it,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster Gage Hoase said. “‘How many colors of reef water are there?’ and ‘Can we get a sample of each one?’ Now, hopefully, we can give our guests a solid answer and move on to the next stupid question.”
“All I want’s some little glass vials with different water colors in them,” island guest Candy Wrasse said. “The Eagle Ray Cove gift shop sells five-color gift sets. Sandy Bottoms’ has seven-color sets. Club Scuba Doo has eight. And Blacktip Haven sells swirly, blue-green sarongs they say have 113 colors. Some scientific clarity would be great.”
Other residents, however, were skeptical of the study’s goals.
“This isn’t a simple green, blue and indigo issue,” local activist Harry Pickett said. “The bigger picture is where are the lines drawn? Who draws them? And can the colors be gamed? Arbitrarily dividing seawater into someone’s preconceived notion of shading is really a statement on power and privilege.”
TU-B’s Mojarra was quick to defend the study.
“We have some of the world’s top colorimetrists, marine hydrologists and watercolor painters to triple-blind study our samples,” Mojarra said. “As for doctoring the water, it’s true, particulate matter can play a large part, but we’re running the water through a non-biased third party’s .01 micron filter to ensure minimal particle density.”
The island’s religious community remains unconvinced.
“All water is one. You can’t divide it into colors,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the island’s ecumenical council. “Let the mystery be and enjoy your swim.”
Blacktip Island’s theosophists reacted more strongly.
“We wanted to do a group self-immolation at Diddley’s Landing Friday evening,” Palometa Fischer said. “But that gets so messy. Instead we’ll all sit cross-legged and throw water on ourselves. An anti-immolation, if you will, with each person using the water color of his or her choosing.”