Sea Turtles: Very Cool

I have been a certified SCUBA diver for almost 17 years and snorkeled for several years before that. I have seen many sea creatures and corral formations. I now get to rediscover the sea world through the eyes of my teenage son. After a really bad snorkeling experience when he was six it took many years and vacationing with a friend to get him to try again.

We snorkeled yesterday at a small beach in Maui. We were in a small bay separated from a second snorkeling area by a football field’s length of rocks. We had been told that sea turtles occupied the other side but that the abundance and variety of fish was better in the bay.

In hindsight, checking out the bay first was clearly the right decision. We say a dozen different fish, several of the brilliant multi-colored variety common to warm water. There were a few large fish, (size matters when viewing sea life) two eels, and needle fish. We had to go a long way out.

The posse I was with had little experience including my son’s friend Jon who had only gone once before. (Though I believe that anyone who can breathe and kick can snorkel, it is in fact mildly more complicated.)  Based on past experience I expect some form of equipment failure such as a leaky mask or water in a snorkel. I was thrilled that no disasters occurred given how far we are from the shore. On the way back in, my son saw a sea turtle of modest dimensions swimming by at the surface. Then a moment later one swam directly below him, no more than a foot away. All in all a very good snorkeling adventure.

After lunch we followed the path to the side were the herd of sea turtles awaited. The entry into the water required scrambling over rocks which would be slippery when wet. Just as we got there it started to rain. I was the only one of the 4 of us adventurous/stupid enough to go in. It was the dray of the turtles. Fortunately the rain cleared most of the people sitting nearby. That way the sight of Mr. Adventure scooting on his butt towards the water was only observed by loved ones.

It was worth it. Once in the water the rain does not matter much. I quickly came into contact with six sea turtles. Two, a bit larger than the ones we saw earlier were swimming a few feet under the surface. I then came across an older, larger (4-4.5 feet long) one laying on an underwater rock. For this one I needed to get closer and I dove down to within a foot or two. He had the look of an old, tired king (or queen since I did not get a look at any part of the anatomy that would have clued me into the sex.) Later the king came and swam at the surface. I was able to get up close and personal. I regretted not bringing an underwater camera.

After a few more minutes it was time to climb back on the rocks and crawl my way back to shore. This would have made an entertaining video I have no doubt. At least we know that I am willing to accept a bit of personal embarrassment for the sake of adventure.

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About 48facets
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