Monday, December 26, 2011

Hawai'i - Swimming with Dolphins (12/26/2011)

Monday, December 26, 2011
A gorgeous day!
We were picked up at our hotel before 9:00AM by Heath in a van from Dolphin Excursions and taken to the Leeward Side of the island (the west side), to the Waianae Boat Harbor. There at a picnic table, those who were going snorkeling were outfitted. Several other people arrived and soon we were taken to board a Zodiac craft.
Captain Jenna was our pilot/marine biologist, and Heath (biologist) and Lexi (marine biologist) were our naturalists. We were also accompanied by Jim, a photographer. His photos will be duly credited!
Kent & Brynne:
Kent, Brynne & Tamiko:
We are displaying the shaka sign, a common surfer greeting.
Looking back at the Waianae Valley:
Being winter, the Megaptera novaeangliae/Humpback Whales migrate to their winter calving and mating grounds in Hawai'i. The warm waters around the islands provide protection for young whales until they build up the body fat needed for the migration back north.
Almost immediately we began sighting waterspouts, indicating the presence of the whales.
Jenna sped the boat at incredibly fast speeds to get us closer.
This is my fluke photo:
Here is Jim Ward's series!

 Another humpback?
The Valley of Life:
After several whale sightings, we then met a Tursiops/Bottlenose Dolphin, who liked to rub his back along the bottom of the boat, as long as you lept moving at a slow speed.
Now to look for Stenella longirostris/Spinner Dolphins:
Spinner dolphins travel in pods where they stay close together. They are called spinners because of the behavior where they spin lengthwise as they leap from the water. It was thought that they do this to remove remoras, the fish that attach to their skin. We saw more of the head or back slaps which would accomplish the same thing.
What is everyone looking at? (Not at the dolphins!)
As promised, we had seen Humpback Whales and Spinner Dolphins.
Next, swimming with the dolphins:
The snorkelers were supposed to stay together like a dolphin pod:
Some of Jim Ward's underwater Spinner Dolphin photos:
The human pod was not successful in staying together, and spooked the dolphins. So we regrouped and went to find another place to swim with the dolphins:
At the next spot, a Dasyatis lata/Broad Stingray was spotted:
Next, we had the opportunity to swim with tropical fish and sea turtles. We had to anchor over a coral reef, and since the coral is protected you canot drop an anchor. You must hook up to a ring imbedded in the ocean floor:
Here is my perspective of the coral reef from the boat:
With Kepuhi Point in the background.
Kent & Brynne:
Here is Jim Ward's underwater perspective:

Don't know the source of these bubbles:
Brynne & Kent:
Swimming with Chelonia mydas/Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles!
Kent & Brynne in middle back:
This is my sea turtle photo:
More of Jim's photos:
Don't know the source of the ring bubbles:
Aetobatus narinari/Spotted Eagle Ray:
Other fish seen by the snorkelers were Seriola lalandi/Yellowtail Amberjack, Chaetodon miliaris/Milletseed Butterflyfish, Melichthys niger/Black Triggerfish, Melichthys vidua/Pinktail Triggerfish and Acanthurus thompsoni/Thompson’s Surgeonfish.
Jim Ward
Alas, it was time to head back to the Waianae Boat Harbor:
However, the excursion also included lunch at the harbor cantina!
Awesome day, and we highly recommend Dolphin Excursions to any one going to Oahu (

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