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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Grey Skies, Blue Waters. What's Not To Love?

Blue Hawaii
My favorite Hawaiian pastime – uh… after eating Hawaiian food – is snorkeling. All that turquoise water and all those confetti colored fish I don't know the names of. Actually, this trip I found great little book, 'Reef Fish of Hawaii'. It has the names of 150 of the most common fish and it's waterproof. I didn't find it early enough to give it a watery test drive, but it did help me identify fish I’d had to make up names for this trip and when I visited Hawaii back in 2005. Back then I had an idea to make up names for fishies so I could look them up later. Guess what? It's 'later'! Back in 2005 I named a fish the “Harlequin Duck Fish”. Why? Well, here's a Harlequin Duck.


Here is the fish that I was able to find in the book because its looks matched my made up name: the Achilles Tang.

See? Both drake and fishy are dark blue with orange/rust patches. I swear, they're like twins.
OK, and there were what I named ‘Thread tailed Unicorn Fish'. There aren't any Thread-tailed Unicorn Ducks to compare it to but I was tickled to find my made wasn't too far from the mark. Here is a genuine, Bluespine Unicornfish.
Bluespine Unicornfish


Tee hee! I nearly got it right! Isn't it a beaut? I swear, if I lived in Hawaii I would be a fish watcher. 

I saw loads of great fish when we went snorkeling this trip. I saw dozens of Buttercups... Well, actually they're called Yellow Tangs. I think my name, 'Buttercups' is better though.
Yellow Tang

There were loads of other fishes too, with real names like Moorish Idols, Goatfish, White Wrasse.
Moorish Idol


Our first day snorkeling, we arrived at a spot, popular with the locals at the Place of Refuge,  outside of the park. It had begun to rain and we were wet, as well as undecided whether to swim or not.

We crossed over the shelf of sharp black lava rock to where divers with snorkels or in some cases, scuba gear were leaping into the water. Probably due to the rain, the waves & water were rough. Jeannie’s hand was cut from her brief venture into a likely looking tide pool. I was almost ready to go in – no fins, just snorkel and mask – but an annoying little voice was growling, ‘Are you effing Crazy! You haven’t even got fins on, you’ll drown out there’. No, no, oddly enough, the annoying little voice wasn’t Jeannie. It was my inner guardian angel, trying to keep me from learning how to inhale salt water.

We decided it was too rough for us - not one of the three of us being a strong swimmer, especially as we hadn't any fins, so we backed out. But we noticed another spot a short distance away, by the boat launch. It didn't have any of the treacherous lava rocks. What that spot did have was little kids unabashedly splashing and leaping about. Buoyant three-year-olds! That was our kind of beach! So ignoring the rain Ron, Jeannie and I dove in and had a marvelous time snorkeling.


Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

At one point I felt something grab my foot and visions of JAWS swam in my inner mind for a half second. It was Ron grabbing my foot. I sputtered, assuring him I hadn't been startled at all. I Actually I may have wet myself but heck, fish pee in the ocean so why can't I? Yes, the K.H.W.S.D (Kona Health & Water Safety Department) begs to differ. At one point Jeannie popped up at the surface, shouting, ‘Turtle! BIG turtle!’ I drove under, looking around and spotted turtles eating chunks from a dead sea anemone. I surfaced, and calling over to Ron, ‘Oh, it's just a tiny turtle; probably still in diapers!’ 


I dove again, watching the turtle, the paddling, I turned around. Headed straight at me was a HUMONGOUS turtle - the size of a cruise ship. You know, it's amazing how a creature you are not normally afraid of, when seen in the half light of a submarine environment, looks like Godzilla. The turtle scared the beejeebers out of me. I screeched – underwater no less – and began desperately back paddling, my legs whirling like pinwheels. My face was still under water and the turtle didn’t slow down, he just bowled through me, and in my panic, for a moment, I had one foot firmly planted on its back as I tried to regain my balance. Oops.

Honestly, it scared me that much. Yet, the four turtles we saw a day or so later, sucking up some Hawaiian sun on a north Kona shore didn't scare me in the least.


A Reptilian Beach Party
By the way, if any of you are contacted by a Federal Fish & Game Marshall from Kona Hawaii – and he asks something about a large woman who allegedly tap danced on the back of an endangered marine animal, tell him you have no clue what he’s asking about and tell him – if he asks that is – that I’m out of town. Yeah, right. I’m out of town this week. That’s the ticket.

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