This article originally appeared in Forbes.
It was like being in outer space.
The innards of the pumpkin were floating around me, suspended in front of my face, frozen for a second in time. It was a majestic sight, beautiful, like the silent pulse of a jellyfish, the pieces of pumpkin at peace with the sea, the seeds all rotating in place.
Then the current came through, and the scene was swept away, like wipers on a windshield. My body was pushed a few feet along the bottom before I settled back down to the ocean floor, knees and toes upon the sand. I centered the pumpkin between my knees and drove the knife into it.
Every October in Hawaii, dive shops offer the chance to take part in a once-a-year tradition: Carving pumpkins underwater. I had seen it advertised before, along with other Halloween dive events, like a night dive to a “haunted” shipwreck. The idea of underwater pumpkin carving was always amusing to me, one of those things I just had to try. I had a lot of questions, starting with the most basic. Um, don’t pumpkins float?
Why yes, yes they do. When I first got in the water, the pumpkin was still whole, and it was like trying to bring a basketball underwater. The guides smiled and threw jabs at me. Bobbing at the surface, I wrangled my knife and cut a “lid” in the top, around the stem. I spun in place at the surface of the water as I cut the circle, eventually pulling the stem like the top of a cookie jar, allowing water to rush into the cavity. Now water logged, I put the pumpkin under my armpit, let the air out of my vest, and slowly descended below the surface.
I found out very soon that even when they are hollow, pumpkins still want to float. I reached the ocean floor, about forty feet down, and pulled out more of the inner flesh. But the second I let go of the pumpkin, it tried to take off toward the surface. I had to toss a two-pound dive weight inside to get it to stay put. Between the weight and the squeeze of my knees, I was able to stabilize the pumpkin and began cutting into it, breathing slowly, the bubbles oozing from my mouth.