Saturday, March 13, 2010

Detecting Monk and Turtle Love

I know I am sounding like a broken record, but today - like each day so far this week - has been the best day ever.
We went to a dive site on a beautiful, new catamaran. Now for the shameless commerce part of our show. If any of you ever make it to Hawaii, and you are willing and able to set aside some of the budget for a "I deserve to be spoiled" experience, then take one of the cruises offered on the Alii Nui. The one we went on is a morning sail to Turtle Point, where most of the passengers went snorkeling. We took the option to go scuba diving beyond Turtle Point and out to the edge of the reef to the wall where whales swim by and scrape off the barnacles accumulated during the long journey to Maui. The crew takes care of everything, including breakfast and lunch buffets prepared on the boat. The boat is large and even in rough water gives a smooth ride. It is much quieter than most boats, and we were able to see many whales that came quite close to us. We even had dolphins surfacing with the whales around the boat.
One of the whales we saw was a very young one with its mother. It stayed on the surface and seemed to be trying to learn how to do an impressive fluke slap on the water. It kept flipping its tail up and slapping it down, again and again. But it would flop around and come down at an angle, and sometimes the slap would make the little whale flip over.

It reminded me of little kids in the middle of a growth spurt - all arms and legs and not quite knowing how to handle the total yardage of their limbs. It was a tender thing to watch.
My best friend and dive master for the day was Nicole. Ask for her when you book the cruise. We saw some great stuff. The best was the "Who could have anticipated this" stuff.
I have mentioned that we were in Maui a few years ago, and we went snorkeling with our kids, and we saw a Monk Seal playing with a sea turtle at the edge of a reef, and our guide was amazed and told us many of the people who actually live there and study marine life have never seen that, and we were beyond lucky. We have heard from others that they might see a Monk Seal out on land, in secluded areas. But there are only 1100 of them left in the world, the population is declining, and only a couple hundred at any given time are in Hawaii, and no one ever sees them underwater, much less with a turtle.
Did I mention that seeing a Monk Seal is rare?

Today, we saw a Monk Seal, playing with a sea turtle, under the boat when we were diving the reef.
When you look at the picture, I want you to keep in mind that the Monk Seal is about 8 feet long, because the turtle is about 4 feet long. We know this because later, when the Monk Seal was gone and we were able to approach the boat (we are not allowed to approach a Monk Seal), the turtle came and hung around for a very up close and personal experience.

I think she (yes, it is a girl turtle, I can tell because of her eyelashes) has a crush on Mike. She would not get away from the diver's weight line. Then she swam right to me as if I weren't there. I moved aside and she swam to Mike and kept swimming around him, within inches of him. She finally moved away long enough for us to get in the boat. She hung around on the surface by the ladder while we ate our lunch, but Mike didn't get back in the water. We were off to see more whales.
I hope she gets over him. I am not willing to compete with such a strong swimmer.


Big Bahama Mama said...

You can tell she has a crush on Mike--look at the fresh lipstick she put on. But I don't think you need to worry about competition--Mike has a pretty big crush on you.

Jody England Hansen said...

He does, doesn't he. He is pretty cute, even compared to Johnny Depp.