Weekly Summary--Week 8 (05/08/27)

It's crunch-time

Not that we're doing a count-down here or anything but... we've got two weeks before our manuscript submission deadline of September 7th.

Fortunately, two events (Peter had an ear problem and a small swell rolled through) plotted against us getting into the water as much as we would've liked this week. We say "fortunately" because it forced us to use that non-water time for working on the book.

We'd prefer to cut this weekly summary short with:

Then we could get back to working on the book.

We can't do that, however, because we realize that these weekly summaries form an important part of our "field notes."

Dog's breakfast conditions

A North swell, silty water, wind-whipped waves, and vigorous trade winds turned paddling a kayak with a SCUBA tank at the bow into a session of "Man, we're idiots to be out here!"

Since Peter couldn't dive, we were forced to limit his underwater viewing to snorkelling. That forced Ursula to keep her SCUBA sessions in shallow water.

We must have made an even more odd couple than we usually make, at least to anyone observing from a beach or hotel balcony.

Fetches a 29K JPEG

Shouldn't this thing be horizontal...?

An orange kayak tied off a couple of hundred yards offshore, bobbing up and down with wind and waves whipping around, and one idiot snorkelling around in what probably appeared to be random patterns.

Eyes can deceive, however.

They wouldn't be able to see the other idiot, Ursula, moving about randomly on SCUBA underwater. Peter was simply doing his best to "baby-sit" her from above. Ursula, below, would swim a bit, look up to check on Peter, swim a bit, look up and check...

The system works--at least so far. Slowly we've investigated this new honu resting area to our north. Like any explorers seeing a place for the first time, we needed place names. This was the week for deciding on names and developing underwater signals to represent them.

New dive site called "Hoaka"

Hoaka is Hawaiian for "crescent." The prime attraction for honu to the north is a volcanic crescent-shaped ridge. As many as a half-dozen honu can be seen tucked in deep shade in the volcanic rock ledges of this site.

Hoaka is the extreme edge of Honokowai. Since the vast majority of honu sighted at Hoaka are long-term residents of the Turtle House and North House, we still consider this area part of the Honokowai honu complex.

Hoaka (dive signal: hand curled into a crescent) is not just the ultimate honu safety rest site, it's also a cleaning station as well. Usually a few honu can be sighted hovering above, we assume simply for the fun of it.

Action at Hoaka
Fetches a 38K JPEG

Second new site known as "Kahua"

Among other things, Kahua is Hawaiian for "location, site" but also "bed, as of a stream." Since this is what the site looks like to us, it seemed the perfect name.

Fetches a 50K JPEG

This could be a dry stream bed--if it weren't underwater

Kahua is down-current and deeper than Hoaka. It is a place where honu go to to rest with other honu. In other words, it's a quiet place where it's possible to see a half dozen turtles huddled together in peaceful repose.

Aside from going up for air occasionally, the turtles at Kahua do nothing else except pose for photos.

$%$#%$#!!! meaning "expletive euphemism" is the non-Hawaiian name we give to the tiny volcanic "bridge" where we tie up the kayak. We call it $%$#%$#!! because even with a bright yellow rope wrapped around this anchor site, it still takes us what seems forever to find it.

Bet you can't find the yellow rope either
Fetches a 35K JPEG

Then we have to snorkel down with our kayak rope and clip it to the yellow anchor line of $%$#%$#!!!. Once our dive/snorkel is completed and SCUBA tank safely back on board, one of us then must snorkel down to detach the kayak line.

We both have extremely limited breath-holding abilities, hence the location name of $%$#%$#!!! is doubly appropriate.

Honu harrassment

Ursula was harrassed. By two different turtles. On the same dive.

Since honu harassment is illegal, we'd report this (we have pictures for evidence!) but we don't want the turtles to wind up with a criminal record. They're really good honu, just misunderstood.

Turtle One had just returned from a trip to the surface for air, saw our bright yellow line and took several nibbles
Fetches a 47K JPEG
Fetches a 45K JPEG

He then decided to nibble on Ursula

Ursula swung around to face the turtle and then move AWAY and into sand
Fetches a 38K JPEG
Fetches a 34K JPEG

The turtle followed, intent on mayhem

Ursula's flippers were always the target
Fetches a 34K JPEG
Fetches a 30K JPEG

If this were honu play, Ursula decided she'd had enough; if it was a honu form of bull-dozing to say, "Go Away!", Ursula was only too happy to comply

We've seen this kind of behaviour used on other honu.

Speaking of other honu, another honu comes down from the surface, Peter signals to Ursula that it's sneaking up from behind.

Ursula thinks, "Oh Great! Another one!"

She immediately goes into her well-rehearsed, "I-know-how-to-mind-my-own-business honu pose." but to no avail.

The honu attempts to plant a nip to Ursula's "feet"--so predictable and typical
Fetches a 36K JPEG

Unsatisfied with Ursula's lack of reaction, the turtle then swims over to a fellow honu and continues venting his spleen.

Fetches a 39K JPEG

This time the turtle used the more direct snap-at-the-head approach

Only THEN did he get the reaction he wanted!
Fetches a 50K JPEG

Ho'omalu at Hoaka

This week for no reason other than procrastination, we decided to visit Hoaka in the afternoon. A minor swell was running and we'd discovered that the Hoaka site was much like Olowalu in that once the waves came, the visibility left quickly.

We also discovered that when surf was running, fewer turtles used the shelves and trench in these shallows. The visibility was so poor that Peter (snorkelling) had difficulty following Ursula (on SCUBA). Ursula had it even worse. Turning to look up against the sun and haze, even when Peter was close he looked more like a mirage.

Poor viz, sand churned about, few turtles, we figured this was a scratch-effort--good only for the exercise it would provide us.

Then we sighted Ho'omalu, our black turtle. She was resting (at times scratching her back) on the Hoaka "scratch post." Unlike Ho'omalu's nervousness at seeing us late afternoons while she was foraging, here, by day, she calmly accepted Ursula's presence and allowed numerous photos.

Fetches a 33K JPEG

Ho'omalu at Hoaka

To Ursula's eye, Ho'omalu is bigger (and rotund-er) than most regular honu. Ho'omalu, who is a black turtle/Hawaiian green combination, must surely be a female. There's no hint of a lengthening tail.

We're delighted. Truly delighted. We believe it's only a summer or two before Ho'omalu will reproduce (if she hasn't already done so).

We hope to still be around to see her with a white number on her shell.

Won't that be something?

Sighting Ho'omalu made the whole kayak trip to the north worthwhile!

Ho'omalu even posed for her portrait
Fetches a 33K JPEG

U249 back safely from nesting

That's the big news this week.

While visiting Hoaka on August 26th, we sighted one of our Honokowai wahine newly returned from her reproductive duties at East Island. She was resting peacefully on a sand ridge and Peter took this photo of her while he was snorkelling above.

You can easily see the number "64" etched and painted into the right side of her carapace. We have known U249 since 1995 so this 2005 sighting makes it a ten-year Honokowai residency.

Fetches a 44K JPEG

We've known U249 for 10 years

Week 9 Summary
Summer of '05 at Honokowai
Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai
Table of Contents

Last modified 05/08/27
Send comments or corrections to webmaster@turtles.org