In a wonderful convergence, the weekly Saturday gathering of the Dolphin People coincided with the arrival of a group of thirty-two Spinner Dolphins. The playful spinners were having a great time, returning again and again to the cluster of snorkelers. Even the snorkelers seemed to be enjoying themselves; reluctantly allowing themselves to be caught up in the games of the dolphins. Click HERE (or Below for Today's Video).
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Yep, that's me. A very strange creature in the water. If you have ever seen me swim, you know that I could easily be mistaken for a drowning cat.
The winds started howling yesterday morning and haven't let up, so I drove to a sheltered bay for my ocean swim this morning. I did not see any dolphins (they occasionally visit that bay) so I slid into the icy wet (hey, to me this winter's water is freezing) and swam for the far cliffs.
Close to the far rock wall I was surprised to see a whale lying on the sandy bottom. It couldn't be a humpback, just lying there on the sand, could it? I looked up ahead of me and there was mom and calf heading right for me. Sure enough, a trio of Humpback Whales! I floated in place and watched them swim giant circles around me for a half hour. They passed close by four times and I managed to get two video clips and many still photos (Click HERE or Below for Today's Video).
I was blue and shivering with cold after thirty minutes of inaction, so I lit out for shore after their fourth time of checking me out. If they couldn't figure me out after four tries, then I think they need glasses. Just before getting back to my starting point, what did I see? A pod of Spinner Dolphins swimming below me. About this time my right thigh seized up in a massive muscle cramp and I couldn't get into position to take photos. There I was sinking and massaging my leg with one hand while desperately trying to get photos of the dolphins with the other. The dolphins did circle a few times, trying to make sense of my strange contortions. Enough, already! I finally managed to haul myself onto the rocks and now, five hours later, have almost gotten warm again. What a GREAT day!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Closely related to cotton, okra and cacao, our Hibiscus hedges are in full bloom. Red and yellow blossoms are always visible and often, like now, they present a solid wall of color. The red flowers make a great herbal tea, which is especially nice iced.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
This morning's ocean swim found me directly over a singing Humpback Whale. How do I know? I did not see the whale through the murk. But when the sound is that loud, there is no question about how close the whale is. I hovered, listening to every grunt, groan and squeak. Even with my head above water it was loud. Being that close I could also hear a lot of gurgling and at one point it even sounded like an elephant attempting to trumpet a charge. After being serenaded for fifteen minutes the sounds suddenly became less intense and I saw the whale surface twenty yards away. Was I disappointed at not seeing the whale underwater? No way! Sitting in the front row of a humpback whale recital was fascinating and entertaining.
Monday, February 23, 2009
This not-so-little guy has been skittering around our beach the last couple of days. It looks a lot like the smaller sand crabs on the beach, but isn't nearly as shy. They dive for their burrows as soon as they see movement near by, this guy just ambles away. Also, the sand crabs are much more sand-colored; maybe this guy is about to moult which would explain both the color and slow movement. I know how he feels, shedding one's skin is a drag (how else do you think I keep so young looking).
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers did our usual Sunday ocean swim this morning, but five of us kept on going... I called to the whales on the way and suddenly, we were surrounded! They came to check us out from three different directions and converged all at one moment. Three swam by on the surface less than ten yards away, then two passed directly under us heading the other way. The third group kept their distance as they passed.
As quickly as they materialized out of the gloom, they disappeared. Completely! We waited and waited, but saw nothing. Josh and Jonathan were thrilled with their first-ever ocean-swim underwater whale sightings. I also think they now believe me when I talk about how well whales blend into the water. I watched as they almost climbed onto the back of the first whale without ever seeing it or knowing it was there. They did see the two under us, but only as indistinct outlines. The humpback whales came and went so quickly that Josh was soon wondering if he actually saw them or had dreamed them. Sometimes, I feel the same. But the photos I take manage to snap me back to reality.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Giant African Land Snails roam the landscaping of South Maui eating, eating, always eating. Many people here stomp on them every time they see one of these pests, but I can't bring myself to do the same. They are beautiful and fascinating to watch. Click HERE (or Below) to enjoy the time-lapse video I took today.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I love learning new things.
The little blobs floating in the water in many of my recent whale photos are reddish in color. Especially where they are concentrated near the surface. I assumed it to be a quirk of my camera. After all, what else could it be?
When I read the Wikipedia entry on Humpback Whales a surprising little fact jumped out at me. Humpback Whale milk is PINK! (what do you think of that Malcolm?!) Now all the reddish debris makes sense. Wow.
Letting my mind wander a little farther I realized there is a third option to explain the murky water around Maui's humpback whales - baby whale poop! Whale calves spend their days gobbling up the milk their mothers' squirt out into the water, so of course they have to relieve themselves from time to time! Dolphins poop on me all the time and theirs is not solid, even though they eat solid fish and squid. So chances are pretty good that baby whale poop is not solid either.
So, that murky water I swim in - a mixture of whale poop and old whale milk. Who could deny that I have the greatest life in the world?!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I was loving the clouds this morning. Before I moved here, I thought of Hawaii in terms of tropical vegetation and sunshine.
Wrong. Hawaii is really all about the clouds. Usually big fluffy white clouds with black bottoms. Passing showers are not at all unusual, even when the sun is shining brightly. Which means lots of spectacular rainbows. One way to identify a long-time resident is by the lack of umbrella when it rains. We know how to enjoy a shower.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Well, actually, I'm not quite sure what my theory is...
BUT, I've never heard any authoritative Humpback Whale experts talk about the whales' tendencies to hang out in murky water. Check out today's two encounters. These whales approached very close to me, yet it was still difficult to see their tails - only an extra fifty feet away.
I will be swimming out deep in clear, clear water where I can see the ocean bottom; then suddenly hit a cloud of murk. And that is where I will see whales. Since these areas of less than clear water are out where they have no reason to exist, I am assuming the whales somehow cause the cloudiness. Do they dive down and stir up the bottom? Or do they exude something into the water? And why?
Interestingly, the experts don't even seem to be aware of this phenomenon. I guess I have an unique perspective because I swim out from shore, I don't just suddenly drop in from a boat.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The Maui Pink Cap Swimmers once again found themselves shivering in cold, but clear, water this morning. I swear, cold people have absolutely no sense of fun! So we swam down to the Pu'u and then right back to the beach, where we tried to warm ourselves in the not nearly hot enough tropical sun. I followed Jonathan and Josh into the deep water, they saw a group of eight eagle rays and I saw a manta ray out there.
Four of us did stop to check out this rare Hawksbill Turtle. We had never seen one in this particular location before. The red color is an algae which seems to have a special affinity for hawksbills.
I am huddled in front of my computer with a hot cup of tea in my hands still trying to warm back up. Oh, the agony of winter on Maui.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The wind was howling again this morning when I arrived at the shore. Since it was Saturday, the dolphin people (no, they don't have gills, they are mammals) had gathered and were in the ocean fighting the gale. I had no choice, I had to join them.
Once I was away from shore all I could see was the spray blown from the wave tops, but no swimmers and definitely no dolphins. Finally, I noticed more salt spray in one certain area; yes, it was a group of snorkelers. Maybe they had seen something? I swam over and through the murk I could faintly discern dolphins below me. Hooray!
Even though the spinner dolphins were in sleep mode and not playful, they kept circling below us and repeatedly surfaced among us to breathe. The ocean surface was whipped into a frenzy by the gusts, and I was cold and kept choking on gulps of sea water. It was so much nicer down below with the dolphins, but, alas, no gills!
I had a great time hanging out with them until I finally turned as blue as my wetsuit and had to dry off and warm up. Click HERE (or Below) for Today's Video.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Out of the blue I suddenly find myself doing product photography. Instead of trying to capture the beauty and essence of an entire residence, my two most recent jobs have been to show a manufacturer's furniture (or carpeting) in use. It is fun doing something a little different.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sorry. I did not see any dolphins on my swim today.
But whales! I did see Humpback Whales this morning! Not only did I see them, but they saw me. AND accompanied me on my workout for more than thirty minutes (am I using too many exclamation points? Definitely NOT!)!
I had been swimming for thirty minutes when I noticed very loud whale noises underwater. Very loud. I knew whales had to be close, but where? The water had grown murky, which meant I was in their territory. I looked around above water for a spout or other sign, but saw nothing. I looked some more then decided to get back to my swim. Five minutes later I stopped and this time above water I saw a humped whale back, then the tail. It was swimming alongside me in the same direction. Cool.
I resumed my swim and was soon cut off by these three whales: a calf, mother and escort. And still making a lot of noise (click HERE or Below for today's Video and hear it for yourself). Filled with gratitude for the encounter I decided to swim on and continue my workout. From time to time out of the corner of my eye on the surface I could see their backs as they swam along with me. Fifteen minutes later they swam by me again, then yet again ten minutes after that.
Unlike the spinner dolphins, they did not seem to be the least bit dissatisfied with my swimming speed. Instead, they waited patiently for me again and again. When I had swum enough and was shivering with cold, I climbed into the kayak I always tow behind me. They circled back and swam directly under me to say farewell.
Monday, February 9, 2009
This photo represents how most people on Maui get to see Humpback Whales . . . from shore. On my walk this morning I followed this baby whale (or was it following me?) as it breached its way from Kihei to Makena with mama and escort in tow.
When they reached the main resorts on Wailea Beach a rush of rental watercraft set out in pursuit. Whales are not slow creatures and the paddling set never quite caught up to them.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Thank goodness I have so many like-minded people on Maui with whom to swim every Sunday. Now if only I could figure out a way to slow them down (notice my lack of motivation in learning to swim faster)... It is now height of whale season and we could hear the Humpback Whales singing every single time we dove underwater. What a treat!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I ran into my dolphin swimming buddy, Calvin, this morning and he introduced me to this trio of Humpback Whales. The whales were polite and swam by to say "Hi" before swimming away to spend more time hanging with Calvin and his friend, Deja.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Maui's Humpback Whales are singing their hearts out. During my ocean swim this morning they were so loud at one point that it hurt my ears. They kept swimming close to check out this creature splashing along who was clearly not designed for the water. One passed near enough that I could see it, barely. They blend in with the ocean amazingly well.
While kayaking back home after the swim, I must have passed over three different whales because I could hear their singing from above water. Now that's loud! Do you want to hear it for yourself? Live? Then Click HERE for the Whalesong Project. They have a buoy with a microphone not too far from where I swim.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
No Matter What - I was GOING to swim today!
Lucky me, the dolphins decided to swim today, too. No more sitting at home surfing the web and eating fish sticks for them! No, the dolphins wouldn't let cloudy skies, strong winds and big waves keep them from getting out and having some fun. And fun it was! More than an hour of it. (Click HERE or Below for Today's Brief Video)
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I felt a lot less adventurous today. I was satisfied with a nine mile walk and three mile kayak, and no drama. I stopped in to see the Maui Art Glass Expo at the Wailea Marriott and felt let down. There were a few extraordinary pieces, but most paled in comparison to what I'm accustomed to seeing at Hot Island Glass up in Makawao.
I'm jonesing to get back in the ocean for a swim. Here's hoping weather conditions are better tomorrow morning...
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Rockin' and Rollin' today on the high seas. That was me.
Wind, waves and gray skies would have made for an unpleasant ocean swim, so I decided on an Adventure Kayak outing instead! Yeeeeha! Being safety-minded (and inherently lazy), I did my usual and paddled for an hour directly into the wind. Not bad until the final twenty minutes when the winds began howling. I was sliding backward even though I was paddling all-out. Whew, what a fun workout.
I love days like today because I had the ocean all to myself. I didn't see another soul until I passed a pair of dive boats on my return. They were bouncing around as much as I was. I got to practice surfing the swells on my way back as the wind zipped me home in no time.
Right after I got to shore the Coast Guard plane from Honolulu made an appearance flying back and forth where I had been kayaking. Please don't tell me that some well-intentioned person called 911 on me AGAIN!?
Click HERE for the story in the Maui News
Monday, February 2, 2009
From my window while working I often watch tiny green birds moving nervously in the trees. They usually hang on the underside of leaves looking for small insects; moving, moving, always moving. So, it was unusual to see two Japanese White-eyes boldly perched near people and feasting on mini-muffins at the Maui Four Seasons Resort this morning. Shortly afterward resort guests were seen dining on these same muffins when offered them by Fours Seasons staff.