Saturday, April 30, 2011

Visions of a Marine Reptile

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Swimming with a Whale Shark


I have been waiting a long time for this. Swimming with a whale shark in really clear water. It was magical. I was working as a naturalist for one of the Pacific Whale Foundation boats called the Ocean Spirit. It isn't my usual boat but I have been helping out one day a week this month. Today was my last day on Spirit and it turned out to be a memorable one. It started off almost not happening at all.
If under 40 passengers sign up then one of the naturalist doesn't work. We just changed this to give us the option to work if we want to. And of course, I wanted to! So I showed up and enjoyed a relax snorkel cruise to one of my favorite destinations, Molokini Island. Its actually the tip of a submerged volcano which provide crystal clear, offshore, protected water to snorkel in. Or you can scuba the backside which drops 300ft directly into the ocean floor.
After my reef tour we got everyone back on the boat and headed out of Molokini crater. By this time we were the second to last boat there. One little dive boat on the edge of the crater remained and it was that boat who radioed us as we were leaving that they were seeing a whale shark! Wow.
So we made a U-turn and Ashley, a fellow naturalist, and I grabbed our cameras and snorkel gear. We jumped in and swam until the shape of a 20+ft whale shark emerged out of the deep blue. The viz was about 150feet and we first spotted the whale shark hanging out at about 75ft down. I free dove down to get a better look. I was so ecstatic. This is the biggest fish in the world! And so beautiful with all these spots all over its dorsal side. Then the whale shark started to swim up towards the surface. I continued to take photos and it actually swam over me at one point. I took the picture of Ashley and the shark as it was moving towards the surface.

Then Ashley jumped back on the boat and the other naturalist Dav jumped in as well. The bottom picture is him about 15ft in front of the shark at about 50ft down. All in a days work.!

My Front Yard

There are so many beautiful creatures under the water. I have been so lucky getting to swim, snorkel, and scuba dive in so many places. But there is really nothing like having world class reefs right out of your doorstep.
The fish above is called a Sailfin Tang. It is already beautiful with its yellow stripes and bright yellow tail but it really shows off when it feels threatened and throws up its fins like a sail. I took these pictures at just the right time to catch it in all its glory.
The lobsters below have been pretty hard to find out here. They do hide deep in crevices and caves during the day, but I feel its more an effect of the pressure that lobster hunters put on them. I had to go to the marine reserve, a 'no-take' zone to find these two.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another reason why I love Maui

We are nearing the end of whale season here on Maui. I can already tell that I am going to miss these gentle giants of the sea. But there are a few other sights and creatures that will keep me going until the whales' inevitable return next winter. Here are just a couple of those...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lea's Visit



What a trip! My sister Lea visited me in Maui and I made sure she didn't have a moment to catch her breath. We kayaked, snorkeled with sea turtles, hiked, whale watched, saw petroglyphs, stood under a 400ft waterfall, drove the road to hana, watched sunsets, experienced a nude drum circle, forged rivers, threw spears, went to a luau, and even took a 2 island helicopter tour. Phew. Here are a just a few of the pictures from our great time together!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What a life

It is not everywhere you can walk from your house to the beach and see whales breaching and playing out in the ocean. But the real experience is from a boat. Sometimes you see the humpbacks from far off but every once in a while they seem a bit curious. We had a male and female play hide and seek under our boat for about 40 minutes yesterday. The male would blow a line of underwater bubbles as he furiously pursued the female. The male also had some interesting rake marks on the topside of his back which you can see in the picture above. Whether he got these from fighting with other male humpbacks or from some predator when he was little I don't know.

As for below...sometimes you have to enjoy Maui's beautiful blue water, because you never know who you will run into out there.

Monday, April 4, 2011