The Coral Reef's Cry

Ana Maria Hernandez

© Copyright 2023 by Ana Marie Hernandez

Photo by Hiroko Yoshii on Unsplash
Photo by Hiroko Yoshii on Unsplash

I have always had a passion for snorkeling. Born and raised in Miami, FL I developed a respect for the ocean surrounding my city. The waves that calmed me throughout my childhood. I would look out at Brickell Bay and dream of being an explorer. Wondering what it must have been like to sail for weeks and finally see land. I spent hours swimming through our coral reefs, in awe of all the colors of the rainbow featured in every rock. Amazed by the lobsters that curiously poked out of their holes with their tentacles deciding if you were friend or foe. A bottle of aloe vera always cold in the fridge ready to cool my burns from the fire coral I could not avoid while exploring the world that I felt most at peace in. 

I have continued this passion throughout my adult hood. However, I started to notice changes. I began to film them. The Nurse Sharks no longer wandered aimlessly through the waters, but rather laid lazily beneath the fallen bridges from hurricanes past. The colorful fish that once filled my vision with the most beautiful displays of reds, yellows, electric stripes, and fins featuring an entire palate of colors were now sporadic. The lobsters that once laid close to shore in warm water, had retreated to deeper caves with cooler currents. The world I once basked in was in trouble. The coral no longer glowed like the inside of a kaleidoscope, but instead was bleached white. Signs, that my beloved ocean was no longer happy. Their color their cry. 

Instead of collecting beautiful shells like before, I feared leaving the smallest footprint in my sacred place. Instead, my snorkeling became a journey to pick up rusty cans, bottle caps, vape pens, and the occasional pair of lost sunglasses or goggles. Signs of the party on the sand bar at low tide. 

One day my childhood ocean will return. No longer will I see the bottles and cans inhabited by small crabs confused as to whether this was home or trash. One day, I will see the colors of my memories. The fish will return, the lobsters will move back, perhaps with informed future adults we will save this beautiful planet. 


Ana Marie Hernandez is a Cuban- American born and raised in Miami, FL. She graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and the University of Miami. She has been a Miami Dade County Public School Teacher for the last 14 years. She is a Certified General Education, Teacher of the Gifted, ESOL, and ESE Teacher. She was the 2020 “Teacher of the Year.” In addition, she has managed her own Freelance Writing, Editing, Tutoring, Translating, and Consulting Firm for the last 20 years. 

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