That was then (inset, 1989) and this is the last time we saw him (1999).
|Quickstats: Seen 1989, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999.||Summer updates: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.|
Kaula holds the record for the longest residency that we have documented at Honokowai. When we first discovered the Turtle House in the last week of 1989, Kaula was one of four large turtles resting there at that first contact. Three turtles fled, but Kaula stayed to watch our approach.
Of course, we didn't know at the time that this large turtle was would still be around 10 years later.
One of the first turtles seen at the Turtle House, Kaula was still around 10 years later
Also, back then Kaula sported a short stubby tail--no hint yet of the impressive, handsome male he would soon become.
By 1990 though his tail was lengthening and we suspected that Kaula was a he.
Throughout those early years, we'd rarely sight this turtle, and when he saw us, he'd prefer to take his leave.
There were several years in a row where we didn't see him at all. Perhaps he hung around elsewhere, perhaps he was doing his migration thing to the French Frigate Shoals. Either way, Kaula was not a main player at Honokowai. That is, until 1997.
It's difficult to know what turns an also-ran shy turtle into a confident daily presence, but it happened to Kaula. In 1997 we saw him every day--many times in the company of his good friend, Zeus.
They'd hang out together at the back of Reef 2, and this is the area Kaula still calls home to this day. It was sometime in 1997 that he "spoke" his name to us. (All honu have special names known only to them. We can however, bestow on them a second--if we are observant enough to understand the personality of the turtle.)
Kaula was young, grand. Like his older friend Zeus, he is gentle and somewhat shy. Kaula is happy to watch us an entire dive but should we show too much interest in him or breach his comfort zone, he'll leave.
We respect his preference for quiet and privacy. We love him from a distance. We named him Kaula, Hawaiian for "The Seer." Only when you get a chance to look into his eyes and have him look back can you understand why that name applies so aptly!
We had a fright in 1998. Kaula was at his usual place, all seemed well. By mid-summer, however, a small tumor erupted in his left eye. We had never seen this happening before. For the first time, we documented the visible onset of fibropapilloma tumors.
In 1998, a small tumour erupted in Kaula's left eye
Was this Kaula's first bout with the disease? Or in the years we didn't see him, did he have FP, recover, and now was having a relapse? Of course we'll never know.
Still, we weren't as worried about his prognosis as we once might have been. He is an adult. He is male. That gives him a great chance to battle the disease and become another regression case.
1999 should tell one way or another.
We sighted Kaula for the first time on July 3rd during our second dive of the summer. He was where we'd left him the year before--resting in his favourite Turtle Trample at the back of Reef 2.
Great news! Even up close it was very difficult to see any tumor in Kaula's left eye.
In 1999, the tumour in Kaula's left eye appeared to have regressed
Certainly there was nothing in his right! At closest observation there's a gray artifact of what used to be a tumor. We believe the tumor is regressing.
Of course we're not adding Kaula to our growing list of good-news regression cases yet. One more summer's observation will truly tell the tale. If confirmed, what better way to celebrate the new millenium underwater?
By far, Kaula would be the turtle with the most benign case of fibropapilloma we've ever seen.
His FP was limited to one small tumor in his left eye. A good thing this turtle lets us get close. From a distance it's unlikely anyone can notice that tumor!
Now it's tough to see it from very in close. We like good news!
One of the surprises of the summer of 2000 was the absence of Kaula. He has been missing in other years, of course, but somehow we'd grown to expect seeing him every summer. On the other hand, Kaula is a healthy male and there is a strong possibility that he was off this summer making little Kaulas. We certainly hope so. We expect to see him again.
We would dearly love to see Kaula again, but alas, it was not to be. He was in great condition when we last saw him, so we believe he has taken an extended sabbatical from Honokowai, as he has done in the past.
We did not see Kaula in 2002.
We did not see Kaula in 2003.
We did not see Kaula in 2004.
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