Weekly Summary--Week 8 (02/08/24)

Yonder be dragons--bejeezly big ones

Disagreements--we had issues--over two days had culminated in the worst argument we've ever had. [Ed. note: resolved amicably, as always.] Events turned so bad that Ursula didn't even want to dive; however, she knew we were obligated to check on the TDRs (Time/Depth Recorders) still strapped to the legs of two of the turtles. In addition we still needed to look for a missing TDR. (Turtle is present, TDR isn't!)

We decided to search for the lost TDR along Reef 0 and then head down-current to where the turtles mainly hang. Silently (we were in grim moods) we entered the water at around one thirty in the afternoon. Rather than go into all the details of the tiger shark sighting, it's sufficient to know the creature was sighted at the back of Reef 0 highlighted by the afternoon sun.

In the whitish distant haze Ursula's first thought was George Balazs' descriptor "silver minivan," but the Beast was more like a silver Buick turned upside down and suspended above the reef.

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The Beast was more like a silver Buick turned upside down and suspended above the reef.

Ursula turned us both around then and we aborted the dive. She's still surprised that the reaction of her stomach kept its contents intact and that her wobbly knees could still allow for progress forward.

Omens and bad luck--a turn for the worse

The dive wasn't a disaster only because Ursula didn't want to dive any more for the rest of the summer. Next morning, we wanted to copy some video for the guests we were expecting. When he opened his housing (which had been neglected after the dive) Peter discovered that about a half cup of water in it. Our Sony TRV900 had spent the night resting in a brew of saltwater. Of course it was inoperable. Seized. She's dead, Jim. We can't even get our videotape out of it.

1700 dives we've done here and on the one and only dive on Tuesday, August 20th, during which Ursula sighted a huge tiger shark, somehow Peter's camera housing leaked at the same time.

What are the odds?

It didn't take Ursula long to conclude that we were cursed--no, actually cursed would have been a blessing--conclude that we were doomed. Ursula refused to go in the water and that's why there's nothing to report about this week's dives.

Gloom and doom were our only companions because we had so little to say to each other. Neither of us knew whether Ursula could return to the water for the rest of the season.

Bottom line? A Bad Omen monster tiger shark had flooded our Sony TRV900!

A Bad Omen monster tiger shark had flooded our Sony TRV900!
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Very special visitors

The worst part was that we were expecting three special visitors the next day. They were walking right into one person who was convinced she'd been cursed, and another who was now forced to consider the possibility that fortunes had indeed reversed themselves.

One visitor, Karen Arthur, is a PhD student working on a subject of special interest to us, and regardless of anything we vowed to make certain we gave her any best that hadn't leaked out of us. Ursula had exchanged numerous enjoyable and productive emails with Karen (graduate student University of Queensland) so we were looking forward to meeting her.

Dr. Jan Landsberg (Research Scientist in Aquatic Health with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) would also be visiting. Her expertise on Harmful Algae Blooms had Ursula eager to meet her from the moment it was announced she'd be visiting Maui. George Balazs would accompany Karen and Dr. Landsberg--it was supposed to be wonderful.

Now of course, we weren't so sure we wanted these three special people to walk into the Bleak Mood we were in. (After all, bad luck is contagious and we didn't want any horizontal transmission happening!)

It didn't take long, though, for our moods to lift. The visitors were so delightful and provided just the distraction we needed.

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The visitors were so delightful.

We were to discuss algae--toxic algae, algae blooms, and especially Lyngbya majuscula.

We've reported on Lyngbya for several summers now and it's been of major interest to us since we first learned it was a blight in Moreton Bay, Australia. Now, we had "Moreton Bay" show up at our dive site to snorkel around and compare notes with our Lyngbya situation.

Lots of talk. Lots of "I wonder if...". Lots of questions. Some answers, which led to more questions. Somehow, as a result of this, a course of investigation will be crafted to compare Lyngbya in the Hawaiian Islands with that of Australia.

So we continue to collect Lyngbya!

We continue to collect Lyngbya.
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Evening: 5690 nests for seventh time

Of course we know it wasn't coincidence that George, Karen, and Dr. Landsberg showed up on the beach just as 5690 hauled herself up on the evening of the day they arrived. George timed their arrival so that they could see the nesting if there was one. Naturally, 5690 being an amazingly fertile turtle, did not disappoint.

What was truly remarkable was that unknown to any of us, hatchlings from 5690's third nest had erupted just five hours before. It is highly likely that while we were with Mother, a few "late bloomers" were working their way to the ocean, completely unnoticed 50 meters away!

Since the main hatching took place at about 8:30, it's certain they were in the ocean at the same time Mom was waiting just off shore to emerge to nest again. We like to think that at least she saw some of her babies.

We have no photos of the Seventh because we didn't take a camera. Last time, 5690 gave us a perfect photo and we vowed not to "flash" at her again. We're totally content to have visual memories of that special evening.

Being with 5690, George, Karen, and Dr. Landsberg was special for another reason. The post-midnight time represented the wee hours of...

Our wedding anniversary

Marking the occasion, Ursula still brooded over the after-image burned into her brain. Tiger Shark. Silver! BIG!

She'd gotten plenty of advice, pep talks, encouragement and yes, even sympathy about her Fear of going back into the ocean. Mostly she listened politely thinking, "Easy for them to say." (She wasn't just freaked and gloomy, she was also crabby!)

It was Karen Arthur who said the magic words.

"You're not going to let a big fish stop you, are you?"

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Leave it to an Australian!

Leave it to an Australian!

That's when Ursula decided on the perfect anniversary present. She bought two Hawaiian slings and pole spears: a His and Hers!

Return to the big deep

Ursula only went diving because a) George Balazs would keep sharks away and b) she had now dumped her painter's pole for a pole spear. Of course she remembered the size of the shark and this Hawaiian sling was merely the illusion of doing something in the name of safety.

Still, it was important to get back in the water. Sure enough, it was soon down to business as usual. George retrieved one of the remaining two TDRs immediately upon arriving at Reef 2...

George retrieved one of the remaining two TDRs immediately upon arriving at Reef 2.
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...and we fought a raging current the rest of the dive, looking for Pi'iwaiwai who was carrying the third and last TDR.

We didn't find him. We hope he's all right.

Fond good-byes and aloha

Five people. A neat mix of American, British, Australian, and Canadian. We didn't want them to go. George is George Balazs--what can we say? Dr. Landsberg, Ursula learned, is a kindred spirit. Karen, well, it's lovely to know that she'll climb up a mountain without pondering the ease of getting back down.

Of course that's what we'd consider normal for an Australian but still--good to know we have someone like that looking into Lyngbya!

The visit also reminded us of something we've known for many years now. American, British, Australian, and Canadian together: easy, effortless conversation. We love the English language. We love its power. We love its flexibility. We love its subtleties.

We love that the four "countries" needed no intermediate--no translator. It's the English language that binds the citizens of our countries into friendships.

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Left to right: George Balazs, Jan Landsberg, Karen Arthur, some dude and dudette.

On our own...

With George leaving, we no longer had a bodyguard underwater. We were forced to dive on our own again. This we did--but only after we traded our painter's poles, which we'd used exclusively to "pole" with in strong currents, for our anniversary-present Hawaiian slings.

Like British Bobbies converting to firearms!
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Like British Bobbies converting to firearms!

Summer Summary
Summer of '02 at Honokowai
Turtle Happenings
Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai
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