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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Under Deh Sea

Monokini is a crescent shaped volcano crater, off Maui, popular with divers
The gang of 8 has split off a couple of day's separate adventures. Ron, Steve, Stephie and their kids are off for a a ride on the notoriously twisty-windy road to Hana. Meanwhile, yesterday Jeannie, Jordan and I went to the Maui Theater to see the highly entertaining 'Ulalena, the theatrical telling of the History and lore of the Hawaiian islands. The today the mini gang of 3 lit out on a Snorkel Bob boat to Monokini and Turtle Town.

Well, one of us enjoyed boating around.

All I expected was to get out and enjoy some snorkeling in prime reef areas. On the way to Monokini however, an enticing proposition was offered up, as the boat offered 'Snuba' diving. Huh? Well, as Jeannie who has done it in the past explained to me, Snuba is diving with an oxygen tank that is at the surface of the water on a raft. The diver attaches to the tank via a long air hose. Unlike Scuba, there is no need for scuba certification. I had no hesitation to try it. The cost was as much as the amount we'd already spent for the boat trip itself, but for me it was like being a cat offered catnip. I am all about being underwater. Jeannie and Jordan opted to stick with some scenic snorkeling.

Prior to the Snuba dive, all participants heard to a short talk on how to Snuba & live to tell the tale. The most emphasized point was to move - slowly, and at that, I am a PRO. Our diving master got us each outfitted with hefty weight belts. I had to have quite a bit of weight for my belt to counteract my uber-boyant fat. Our dive master - who wore regular scuba gear - even added additional weight to my belt once I was in the water. Then soon I was experiencing the joy of staying underwater as if I'd magically grown gills.

The Dive Master took photos of all his pod members
Can you guess which one this is?
To begin with my ears ached, but surprisingly, that only lasted a minute or two, and as I sunk lower in the water beneath the surface, the ache vanished. Then, the only remaining difficult bit was becoming accustomed to hearing my every breath result in a cloud of noisy bubbles. Once used to the racket however, I quickly felt like I belonged. I mean, heck, I'm shaped rather like a ocean dwelling mammal, aren't I?

One of these creatures has to get to the surface to breathe in a bit... in your face Manatee!
I had my underwater camera with me and wasted about two minutes of precious battery life because I turned it on accidentally and it ran for a few minutes. Still, I got some photos that will not challenge anything you see on National Geographic.

On the upper right you can see a raft holding a scuba tank
at the surface, and the hose leading down to snuba divers.
Lots of coral below and plenty of little fish for me to stare at.
And not a few BIG fishies: Pinktail Durgeon Triggerfish
The snuba dive was gently guided by our guide diver who lead us after the local sights of fishes. He told us to clue him in with hand signals if we saw anything unusual, so everyone could get a look - it was just like birding. Before I knew it, the dive was over, about 45 minutes had shot by in a flash. I could have stayed under until I actually would grow gills. After we hauled back onto the boat - which was not easy wearing massive swim fins and hauling an extra b'jillion pounds of dead weight - the boat headed back towards Maui to 'Turtle Town'.

On the way three or four Spinner Dolphins were spotted. The boat stopped so we could all watch the dazzling dolphins leaping from the water, twisting in the air, seemingly just for the joy of it. I didn't manage any photos of the dolphins, they were too fast. When the dolphins headed off, we continued on the way to the Turtle Town site and sure enough a couple of turtles were spotted at the surface.

Not the best picture, but trust me, that's a Hawaiian Green Turtle or 'Honu'.
There was a second chance to Snuba dive and I went for it again. This time it was only myself and a twenty-something year old girl that took the bait, so to speak. Soon I was back beneath the surface.

Bluespine Unicornfish, politely staring at me
A school of Unicornfish moving along
Turtle Town lived up to its hype, and there were plenty of 'Honu', Hawaiian Green Turtles to be found.  Here's a clip of the one that dove down and hid itself in its favorite hide-e hole.

Turtle Town lived up to its promise, several turtles swam around
Forceps Butterflyfish
Tiny little Hawaiian Pufferfish
Spotted a Trumpetfish which looks like a stick. This one below is brown, the first of that sort I've ever seen. All I've seen previously are banana yellow. They apparently take on the color of whatever fish they've preyed on, so they can blend in and catch 'em by surprise.
Trumpetfish, its face on the left, spotty tail on the right

And the Humu-humu-nuka-nuka'apu'a'a' swam by...
Picasso Triggerfish, or Humuhumunukanuka'apua'a, the Hawaii state fish
Can't imagine more fun than scooting along underwater. I have wanted a chance to breath underwater via an oxygen tank since days, long ago, watching Jacques Cousteau on National Geographic specials and the adventures of Bond in You Only Live Twice. It was great getting a chance to try it for myself with no worries of Spectre coming to blow me out of the water. Can do that for myself, thankyouverymuch!

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