A favorite sport of Maui's Spinner Dolphins is the Leaf Game. They catch and carry floating leaves for long distances. Every now and then, they drop a leaf and everyone rushes to be the first to pick it back up. Sometimes, they even drop one in front of me and then race me to pick it up (I have only won a few times). Mama was trying to teach the game to baby (above photo) but wasn't having much success.
Baby, however, had no problem playing Peek-A-Boo (photo below).
I got my feet wet today and took baby steps toward getting back into the ocean. I decided to try a quick dip along the shore and had only swum about fifty meters when my dolphin buddies swam up to welcome me back. I guess they missed me and wanted to offer me some encouragement. My shoulder is definitely not ready for prime time, but the good news is that it still works.
It's days like today when I absolutely adore living on Maui. Of course, every day is like today here on Maui - but it seems even better when my home town is waaaaayyy below freezing. Not here. Not ever. Mmmmmm...
Today was my first-ever visit to the world famous "Jaws" surfing spot.
A couple of times each year the waves exceed 60 feet in height, and the only way to catch a wave is by being towed in by either jet ski or helicopter. Yep, helicopters drop ropes which surfers grab onto to get their rides started. And people think I'm crazy.
Today's waves did not even make twenty feet, but the show was still entertaining.
Lots of Egrets were out hunting lizards this morning and this one was totally oblivious to my presence (kind of like me when I'm eating - never get between me and my food). Good thing too, because the little camera I walk with doesn't have much of a zoom.
This is what lies across the street - golf course and ten thousand-foot mountain.
After today's shark encounter, my ocean swimming career is all over (well, at least for now).
I have been doing deep-water swims during the winters for over five years now, and the past two weeks have been my only two winter encounters with tiger sharks. Two weeks, two encounters.
Today I noticed a big shark coming up from behind me on my right side only THREE feet away. I screamed (well, blew some noisy bubbles) and jumped away. My spasm of fear startled the shark, it moved its head quickly away. I thought of pulling out my camera but noticed the shark turning back toward me. SHIT!
Thank God for the kayak I was towing behind me. I had already begun pulling the kayak toward me, but now I practically flew into the kayak. Which is when the damage was done. Apparently, my body is not ready for olympic style gymnastics moves, especially my right shoulder. And even if it weren't injured, I'm not sure I would be getting back into the ocean again for a while.
Thirty-some Spinner Dolphins caught up to me on my ocean swim this morning, then never left my side. I guess they had new members who needed to learn good technique by watching me (and then doing the opposite). A couple of snorkelers from California appeared at one point and seemed to be thrilled by the sight of so many dolphins. I coached them on not chasing the dolphins, but letting the dolphins come to them - and it worked - big time.
This was the first time I've ever seen dolphins blow a bubble ring. I've seen it on YouTube, but never in person, and it was much more fun in person. I tried swimming through the ring, but only managed to break it apart.
This morning was my second deep-water swim of the season - and my final one without an emergency vehicle.
I was out almost a mile from shore when I saw a creature heading directly for me from below. It wasn't a whale and it wasn't swimming like a dolphin. It was a shark. A BIG shark. A big Tiger Shark!
Strangely enough, I did not panic but put into action what I have been told to do. I stopped swimming, I faced the shark and dropped my feet down below me. I spread my legs and arms to appear as large as possible and tried to look threatening. I even threw some jabs with my fists as it got close (I must have looked totally ridiculous). Deciding that I was too obnoxious for words, it turned and headed back the way it had come.
But the biggest disaster, the Huge Disaster, was that I had entirely forgotten to take a photo! I would be worthless as a photojournalist where rule number one is to get the shot first. I grabbed my camera and turned it on and waited and waited and waited until I could get a shot. I finally got a couple of blurry ones as the shark disappeared into the gloom.
Still, I decided that chasing it down to try and get a better photo was not a good idea. Instead I set a personal best speed record for my swim back to shore.
I'm a guy who likes to get out into the ocean several times each week and interact with the creatures I encounter there. I often swim with dolphins, sharks, rays, and whales. Check out my photos on my website: www.TropicalLight.com