Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maui Underwater

Got out to Maui for the the long weekend and had the enormously relaxing pleasure of a few days in Wailea. Excellent time for deals on travel in Hawai'i if you're flexible. Summer is 'off-season' for Hawai'i but still a great time to go with more reliable weather and warmer water temperatures.

Diving off the beach at Wailea proved to be pretty good, particularly for the special lady in the midst of her PADI cetification process. The water was a refreshing 75 degrees and visibility, by local accounts, was at high of several months. The reef out there is a little sparse on big fish, but rich in other arenas like snowflake morays, eagle rays and more big turtles than you'd ever want to see.

I'd say the flying gurnard (pictured above) I saw was the highlight of the dives, but for the following encounter that bears repeating. Our Russian comrade, Victoria, joining us on the intro dives from Los Angeles confessed before our first dive that she'd always wanted to see a turtle. On my second dive with her, I noticed a green sea turtle approaching from the south on a perpendicular tack to Victoria's. This turtle was enormous, biggest I'd even seen, the size of a kitchen table. He was wizened, old, covered in barnacles as large as baseballs, and moving at a slow, but imperturbable clip.

Victoria was moving along too, matching the turtle in speed and determination, and apparently not notcing him at all. I watched in suspended disbelief, rendered unable to voice a warning by the omni-muffling force of the water. Then, almost in slowmo, the turtle's right front flipper clubbed Victoria across the head, stripping her mask and regulator and sending her toward the bottom. The turtle, unmoved kept steadily on his original path.

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