I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Honolulu Day 4: Snorkel Tour

Today was awesome! The only unfortunate part is that I am sporting one hell of a sunburn on various parts of my body, mostly on the the left side.  I will be cold toweling and aloe vera-ing for the remainder of our stay.  It was foolish on my part so all I will say is reapply sunscreen liberally while you are on a boat because even in Hawaii you will be cold between snorkel locations and might want to sit in the sun to keep warm.

We got picked up a block from our hotel at 9:30 this morning by Ko Olina Ocean Adventures.  Our driver was a super friendly guy named Ben and he drove us to a marina in Ko Olina where we got aboard our boat around 10:30.  I think we arrived back at the marina at around 3:00pm but the time flew by.  It was the quickest four hours plus I have spent in awhile.

We went North up the coast and our first snorkel stop was in view of this building, which I believe is a power plant.

We were hoping to see some turtles here but, in the end, were equally happy to swim with the fish.  The variety was as you would expect snorkeling here.  I have snorkeled near Kauai and Maui but the most recent trip was over 6 years ago and I was not bored.  I love the variety of colours and sizes and how curious they are when you initially get in.  At first I looked around and really did not see many, then looked down and realized they were under me.  I did have an underwater disposable camera and did take some pictures but, let's be honest, the likelihood of me getting those pictures up here once I get home are slim.

The view back to Ko Olina.

I am not sure which town this is but we will be doing a drive up this coast tomorrow so hopefully I will figure it out.

We spent a lot of time heading up the coast looking for dolphins but they were elusive today.  We saw a small group of bottle nosed dolphins at first but they cleared the area before too long and we lost track of them.  I should also say that the rules here seem to be similar to Victoria in that the boat engines need to be turned down and finally turned off when you are near marine mammals.  There are also some stringent rules surrounding the green sea turtles and we were cautioned to avoid pursuing them or touching them unless we had $10,000 to spare.  We saw several of them swimming at the surface as we made our way up the coast and while initially curious they were quick to dive under if we stared for too long.

I was able to catch a picture of this one right before it dove under.  Apparently the males have longer tails and the females have shorter tails.  I believe one of our guides said that this one was a male.

Eventually we did come across a pod of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins.  These are smaller than the bottle nose dolphins and we were told that they they partially get their name from their spinning motion while they jump which helps them to dislodge unwanted beasties from their bodies.  There were adults and babies in this large group and watching them was amazing.  We were fortunate to see some acrobatics as well, but those were hard to get on camera.

The only leap that I managed to catch on camera.

When we got back to the marina we had a tasty lunch and then got driven back to our hotel.  I found myself wishing that we had taken the tour on the first day of our trip as Ben was an awesome tour guide.  He pointed out different areas during the drive from Honolulu to Ko Olina, recommended restaurants, kayak trips, and beaches to check out.  We found ourselves disappointed that we only had two days left because there was no way we would be able to fit in a quarter of what he suggested.  I would highly recommend this snorkel and sail tour.  Everyone we met was super friendly and even when we were being told what we could and could not do I never once felt like I was sitting through a lecture.

The pictures below were taken at a beach we stopped at during the course of today.  There were several green sea turtles swimming in the shallows and this one poked his head up to check us out.  There was also a monk seal resting on the sand and I took a ton of pictures of her.

Monk Seal

This seal was laying on the same beach where we saw the green sea turtles.  She was surrounded by a rope fence in order to keep people away from her.  There was also a woman on site affiliated with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) who kept an eye on her and, probably more importantly, the people on the beach.  In addition to observer she filled the role of monk seal naturalist and explained a great many things including how they are tagged when they are pups (this one is a female named Pakua) but otherwise not touched or tagged unless they are in distress and treated medically. She directed me to the Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance website for more information.

Apparently monk seals need this time out of the water to warm up which means, unlike the youtube videos of people helping a beached whale, do not pour water over them.  Monk Seals are endangered with a population of approximately 1100 in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Volunteers keep an eye out for the monk seals, set up these signs below with rope fencing to cordon off an area around the seal, then, in shifts, volunteers will stay and observe until the seal decides to move on.

Of all the photos I took this is one of my favourites.  It is not the best view of her but she had just finished plowing her head into the sand like an ostrich and then popped out and wriggled forward.  I enjoyed watching her shift positions and make herself comfortable like we would in our own bed.

Sunburn aside this was a fantastic day and one I will remember for a long time.

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