Something is eating away at the sea, gnawing away, leaving small spherical bites in our treasured tropical oceans.
But it's not just the tropics, or just the sea. Nowhere is safe, not even the rivers, or your local quarry or gravel pit.
No, that turbid green slime in which you spend your weekends is just as vulnerable. Every bit as riddled with holes.
And we are all unwitting carriers of this scourge, this disease. Whatever it is, this water-eater, it starts at the bottom of the water column, and works its way relentlessly upwards, erupting at the surface, and leaving the scene of the crime without trace.
Little is known about this ghost in the machine, this gremlin in the software. But at least now it has a name. Scientists have christened our nemesis, as if somehow by giving the enemy a face they'll make us feel safer. At least we now have a focus for our hatred.
At least now we can unite against the scourge they call - bubbles.
Laugh. For years they have been mocking me. They have been mocking you too - although you never realised it. That's their sound: a sly snickering that trickles its way stealthily to the surface: the insane babbling of an upward-flowing stream: the stream from Escher's paintings of an upside-down surreal world.
Let it go, my friends tell me, let it lie. You can't fight them. You see, the thing about bubbles is, they don't care. They are reckless, headstrong.
Do what you like to them - they won't fight back. They have this mad fatalism. Trap them on the roof of a cave and they just leer back at you: an inane reflection of your own topsy-turvy world.
See them glide upwards. See them soar through the water like some crazy silver zeppelin, hijacked by lunatics on a day out, and on a course for outer space. Leave them alone with me a while. I'll give them care in the community.
But what am I saying? They are unbeatable. Smash them and they multiply. They are the snake-hair of the Medusa: for every head that is severed, another two grow to replace it. Watch them go, because they are quite unstoppable.
Like legions of silver-painted Zulus they rush forth, in wave upon wave. Some will fall, snapped up by confused fish, but most will stream on, continuing their relentless course.
The days of bubbles are numbered, however. With the emergence of rebreathers, they are fast becoming an endangered species.
You might think I would be jubilant, you might think I would be delighted to see the back of my nemesis - but no, I'd solemnly advise you to look at the bigger picture.
There is a downside to rebreathers that we haven't even examined.
No longer will fish get a warning of our approach, giving them the chance to get up off the floor and strike an eye-catching stance.
No longer will they have time to ruffle up their fins and turn their best sides towards us. Our perception of the marine environment will sustain an irreversible shock, I suspect.
Male triggerfish - those head-bangers of the underwater world - will no longer seem threatening, once we have witnessed them getting in touch with their feminine side. And how will sharks ever look graceful again, once we have seen them farting, or flossing their teeth?
As for unicornfish, how will we ever look at them in the same light, once we have learned the true purpose of their horns?
This is Pete Harrison's final regular column for Diver. Watch out next month for a new column from Louise Trewavas.
Appeared in DIVER - May 2000