Weekly Summary--Week 1 (07/07/08)

The Week That Wasn't

Well, we've been on Maui for a week and we've managed just one dive. Yes, just one. We did a little better on the kayak, having ventured out on four occasions--although only one had anything to do with turtles.

It's been a week of swells for one thing, but that's not the only reason. The plane flight from Canada might as well have been to the moon considering how forever it was. Of course, there's also that other reason: each year we just keep getting older. Funny thing that.

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Are we there yet?

The main reason, however, is our vow that this summer we plan on actually having a vacation.

Last summer was one brutal chunk of obligations and exhaustion. We spent many nights (yes, entire nights) on a beach monitoring the comings-and-goings of 5690. Then there was The Book. We need a vacation!

Speaking of The Book...

Last summer we found a publisher for our book, the University of Hawaii Press. That was the Good News. The Bad News was that it meant much of last summer (and indeed, last winter as well) went towards revisions and preparation for publication.

We're happy to report that we're down to the final fiddly-bits, and by this time next week the manuscript should be in the hands of our editor. There's work left to do for sure, but we're hoping this means we've got most of this summer to ourselves, and that by this time next year, we'll have a publication date. If things go really well, it might even be in print by then. We're keeping our fingers crossed.


Three of our four paddles were sunset jaunts, and you'd think those would be relaxing, but what with the gusty winds paddling northward was really upper-body exercise followed by a brief downwind trip only to paddle back up again.

The downwind legs could have been longer except for Ursula's fondness for sailing. You see, there's this Mississauga flag that she's named The Andre Marin, after Ontario's Ombudsman. There's a long story here that you can learn more about by following her blog, Mississauga Musings. It's interesting because although it is specifically about our home city, Mississauga, many of the issues raised apply to all levels of government everywhere--but we digress.

This summary marks a new era for Turtle Trax: the age of internet video. Thanks to YouTube and Google Video, we'll be posting video clips of the honu and our summer at Honokowai. To tie this back to our kayaking, here's the first of what we hope will be many: A Flag Named The Andre Marin.

(You might need to click twice, or if you wish go directly to the clip on YouTube)

That was the fun part. There was also our first kayaking turtle survey. Unfortunately, the trade winds increased and got gusty just about the time we reached the site, leaving Peter in the water snorkelling while Ursula fought (unsuccessfully) to keep the kayak remotely near him.

He did manage to count eight honu at Ho'oaka, but Ursula was blown seawards and was forced to abandon him. She managed to reach shore considerably downcurrent, and Peter had to snorkel and snorkel and snorkel to hail his taxi, at which point we decided to call it a day.

We won't be doing that again! Which brings us to...

Gold's Gym

We signed up for a year and have been making daily use of it. Yes, we know. Daily cardio and weight training at Gold's Gym expends a lot of energy before we even hit the water.

Yet if it weren't for our regular cardio workouts (and especially weight training) Ursula and kayak would've taken the Tradewind Express to Lanai last week. Or maybe Tahiti. Anyway, we have our priorities straight.

First Dive

It'd be tough to remember a first dive where we were this comfortable in the water right off the bat. Usually, when we first submerge after ten months away, there's that funny feeling of breathing through a hose but not this time. It was like our last dive had been yesterday.

Unfortunately, as we descended at The Cavern, we sighted our first turtle. We say unfortunately because we first sighted this honu in 2003 when it showed only the barest hint of fibropapilloma tumours ("pinprick" posterior). Our 2003 log entry states:

"2003 July images give right eye a Green. 030805pm dive shows definite problem threatening posterior. Not a tumour yet. But this little dude is in trouble. Upgraded to SUSPICIOUS."

2003 Turtle 45 on August 5, 2003. Note the tiny white spot at the posterior of the eye.
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2003 Turtle 45 in 2006. The white spot at the posterior of the eye has turned into a small tumour. Worse, there are now suspicious grey lumps on the shoulder above the flipper.
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2003 Turtle 45 in 2007. The grey lumps on the shoulder above the flipper are now full blown tumours. The eye tumour has grown. There's also a mouth tumour, and more tumours not visible in this picture.
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Like so many juvenile honu before, we don't expect to see this youngster next summer.

Further Out

What really hits home about our kuleana is the arid feel underwater. The invasive limu species that used to blight this place are no where to be seen. No Hypnea musciformis--gone. No sprig of Acanthopora spicifera--gone.

So much sand about, making it tough for plants to anchor themselves. Sand. Like a desert.

Our first dive to Reef 2 showed Blue as our second turtle, his shell sparkly-spiffy and his flippers munched as usual, both obvious signs he's newly returned from his breeding duties at the French Frigate Shoals.

Blue relaxing at Reef 2.
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We eventually counted around a dozen turtles in the deeper water. We saw Tiamat doing well and male 1996 Turtle 12 prospering. The others were mostly resights--but no Tutu, Zeus, Wana, Ho'olulu (surely she's nesting somewhere!), no Amuala.

There's a lot of Gone so far at this kuleana. Even our kayak trips to the foraging site towards the north showed few honu working the dinner tables.

Binocular scans from the lanai do not show anyone surfacing at The Turtle House or North House. Where are they?

Then again, it's only our first dive after a week's worth of swells. Then again, we haven't been peering through the ol' binocs as diligently as in the past. Then again...

Pick of the Pics

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Sunset on the kayak

Week 2 Summary
Summer of '07 at Honokowai
Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai
Table of Contents

Last modified 07/07/14
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