Weekly Summary--Week 2 (07/07/14)

A Promise Kept

Back in the Summer of 2002:

A promise

Summer 2002 was a time of writing--two hours, every morning, for the book we hope to have accepted for publication about a year from now. Summer 2002 is about a promise written in thick black magic marker on a dive slate. A promise to the honu.

A promise on a dive slate, tucked under a plaque at The Battery. A promise to keep a promise. A promise to finish our book. And George Balazs was photographer--and witness. A promise to keep a promise.

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Making the promise
Photo by George Balazs

Yesterday, July 13th, yes, a Friday the Thirteenth, we completed The Book. Not just completed that book but packaged it, took it to a Mail Service and actually shipped it off to University of Hawaii Press.

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Sending the manuscript off.

Summer 2002--it took us five years to write a book that we promised to Clothahump back in 1993. 1993--Forever Ago.

Finally, a vacation, sort of...

Sending the completed manuscript to Oahu means Peter has all kinds of time he didn't have before. Writing a book isn't just the physical task of sitting and typing words out. He had to read a huge-Jerry-HUGE book on colour correction and then learn how to work images to their best.

As for the writing, most writing isn't tapping at a keyboard--it's the thinking of just how to say something best, and especially the Writer's Block that takes centuries.

By far the toughest "vacations" were last summer and 2004, for not only did we have to work on a book, we also had to babysit 5690--meaning many nights out on a beach all night and into the dawn.

There's none of that now. We've got time back--but that's future weeks here. Let's review what happened underwater this week.

The underwater report

As you might expect we didn't get into the water near as much as we'd have liked this week. Fact is, we dived only because our backs became rigid sitting at our computers too long.

We made only three dives this week and just one sunset foray on the kayak--yes, that's all. (Finishing that manuscript took its toll.)

We can't emphasize enough how different things are here. First of all, there's the sadness of seeing two full-tumour cases at The Cavern. This means these ailing youngsters are the first turtles we see while snorkelling out and also the last two when we're kicking back to the beach.

2003 Turtle 45, a small turtle living at The Cavern.
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Cavern turtle number 2, even smaller.

Then there's a larger turtle also sighted near The Cavern.

That makes three sick turtles who we don't expect to see next summer. Despite the good news for the population, Fibropapilloma is still one loathsome killer affliction.

Sickest of The Cavern turtles. This poor animal probably will not survive much longer.
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Odd around here

We hinted at it last week: this preliminary funny feeling about how different it is underwater.

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.

Seems to us that there's also fewer turtles. Sure, Ho'oulu and Wana checked in this week--but the numbers just aren't there. Where in some summers, turtles virtually littered the bottom, certain traditional resting sites have been abandoned.

We have yet to see turtles resting at Hale Manu and Hale Manu II. Between these two areas, at their densest, we could reliably see a half dozen turtles and that didn't include the main crowd at Reef 2.

We've seen perhaps two turtles and most often none at South Park where in prior summers we could count on a half dozen, of which one was Mr. Wonderful, Zeus. In fact, we called it South Park, because turtles parked themselves there.

It isn't just the turtles--there's so few fish! We can't stress this enough. This isn't the Underwater Hawaii in the commercials here. This isn't the Underwater Hawaii in the Diver Paradise brochures. Where are the fish?

So many crown-of-thorns starfish. Why?

The over-abundance of seaweed and algae we complained about in other years, isn't. It's tough to find any seaweed beyond apologetic sprigs of Halimeda trying to keep up with the advancing sand.

Then there's the seawall. In other years, seaweeds would sway lazily in the back-and-forth swish of incoming waves. No more. It's like some hippie got enlisted and is now sporting a buzz-cut.

The turtles have to work hard for their food around here.

We used to complain about too much algae. Be careful what you wish for. Now we have fewer turtles than we'd like.

Snorkel survey

This summer we thought we'd conduct a series of snorkel surveys. The idea is to take the kayak and start up north at Hoaka, then snorkel south over North House, the Turtle House, and finally Reef 2, counting the turtles at each site. The theory was that perhaps we'd count more turtles than we do when diving, since we couldn't be sure that some turtles leave before we ever see them. After all, their underwater vision is better than ours, and they also have a keen sense of smell.

Thanks to stronger winds than we'd anticipated, our first attempt had to be abandoned, but today (Saturday, July 14) we managed a complete survey. The result: at least at Reef 2, where we dive most often, we saw just about the same number we've been seeing on scuba. We have mixed feeling about this, since we'd been hoping for higher numbers, but then it also indicates that the honu aren't leaving before we see them.

The good news is that we saw more turtles at Hoaka and Kahua than we did last summer. Kahua, which was nearly filled with sand in 2006, has been scoured out a bit more and looks more like it did when we first discovered it.

We counted nine turtles at Hoaka and another eight or so at Kahua (hard to be accurate because they kept arriving and leaving) but the most interesting honu swam up just as we were preparing to leave.

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Possibly a Maui Ocean Center turtle.

A little turtle arrived and seemed curious about the snorkeler. Peter, who was in the water, noticed a glint of metal from the new arrival's flipper, and immediately thought that this was the smallest tagged turtle he'd ever seen. A closer look revealed that the tag was one of the tiny metal tags of the type that the Maui Ocean Center attached to the honu that they raised and released.

Although we're not sure that this is a turtle from MOC, what we are sure about is that this honu is one of the youngsters that were hatched at Sea Life Park and released either by MOC or at the Turtle Independence Day ceremonies at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island. More about this next week after we've had a chance to consult with George Balazs.

Pick of the Pics

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Toasting the sendoff of the manuscript while informing George Balazs on the cell phone.

Week 3 Summary
Summer of '07 at Honokowai
Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai
Table of Contents

Last modified 07/07/21
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