Whales and Dolphins Playing at Sea, And Inviting Us To Join

I truly lead a charmed life. I was helping a friend out with a retreat he coordinated, and we had about 15 or so people out on kayaks and SUP boards the other day. Most of these people were not experienced in the water, so it was good that the water was mellow. The wind was blowing us south though, so our fearless leader set us off in a northerly direction so that we would not have to fight the wind coming back in. Not only was that smart, but it happened to put us RIGHT near a mama humpback whale and her baby. I couldn’t believe how close we were, at times they surprised us about 10 yards away.

I was mesmerized, as you can imagine, paddling along on my beat up rental SUP board. At one point, they hadn’t come up for a bit, and I noticed for the first time that scattered throughout the choppy water were large circles of smooth, calm water. Wherever they surfaced, they left behind a beautiful circle of calmness. Then, I sensed to turn left when others turned right, and they surfaced very close to me. I began to paddle alongside them, traveling about the same pace. It was playful, and I felt just like a kid….romping around with the whales. Eventually, they went down, so we all paused, and I looked back toward Molokini Crater, where I thought I saw snorkelers. It seemed awfully far out for snorkelers, and then I noticed more and more black spots coming out of the water. It turned out to be dolphins! Lots of dolphins. They were to our left, behind, and in front of us. they were so playful, and it was evident they were playing with the whales that day. The whole sea was at play! As soon as I realized we were encircled by the dolphins, I turned left, and there was a breach maybe 50 yards away. Amazing! It was as if the dolphins and whales were working together. “Okay, we’re going to gather the people in while you get ready. When we signal, jump!”

The magic of Maui never ceases to amaze me. We are truly students here, with nature our teacher.

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Underwater Reverie

I want to share a recent and magical snorkeling experience. Even though I have been on the islands for 15 months now, I have only snorkeled a dozen times, if that. My friend recently took me to a new beach where the reef is amazing, and there are turtles everywhere. I didn’t get very far that day, but I went again alone and swam a long distance. My new fins made it so easy!

Some of the highlights of my swim:

*right away, I was above a large turtle, who seemed to notice and disregard me. I tried diving down toward it, but I am still working on diving down and decompressing. I followed it for awhile, then headed on my merry way

*I tried diving down several times, some times inadvertently as I directed myself down toward fish. One time, I was able to decompress a bit, and I was amazed at how easy it was that time to hold my breath. I was so enthralled by all of the life around me, the sound of the whales singing, and the serenity of it all, that I just didn’t think about breathing.

* I swam quite a way out, noticing the vast field of coral, sand, some debris from boats I assume. Suddenly, I noticed small, luminescent “spots” all

around me. Talk about being brought out of your reverie and into the immediate. They looked like little jellyfish or something. My first thought was panic, but then realized I was surrounded and felt just fine. They reminded me of what I found one night on the beach, except that they looked like little pairs of eyes, surrounded by a small network of fibers, gently coalesced into an orb. I stopped and so did time. The sun’s rays were shining down and through the water, highlighting my white hands and lighting up the purple glitter on my nails. And the world around me was surrounded by these minute creatures (I can’t seem to find a picture online that matches, although you can buy a plush doll), seemingly looking at me and glowing pulsingly, as if smiling. Maybe it was “sea sparkle“?

* I continued swimming, but then worked my way back toward the rock, where I figured there would be more coral, and possibly a cave my friend mentioned. The cliff dropped off right into the ocean at this point, so I was quite close at times to the coral, which came up to the surface in areas. A few turtles drifted by below me, and then I found myself surrounded by multiple schools of fish. Below me was a school of narrow, yellow fish, several inches long. They were lined up side by side, facing each other, almost as if they were in a class. Maybe fish do yoga too! Maybe it was fish tantra. Then, above and to my left, a disjointed conglomeration of quite large, dark fish swam by, seemingly unaware of my existence. They were huge! I mean, for the novice, who doesn’t go into the deep sea to dive, they were impressive. One would have fed 3-4 people heartily, I would guess. I wish I knew the fish here. Actually, here is a beautiful site for Hawaiian nature. Earlier in my swim I saw some large puffer fish as well, although they were not disturbed. I was fine with that.

I headed back, brought my head up above this magical world, and kept that serenity and awe with me the rest of the day.

Twas

I ran.

Without a Garmin.

And

It was good.

I swam.

With fins.

And

Got a cramp.

That was not good.

Growing fins

Sunday, I fell in love with snorkeling. I had been at home working on material for a grant for a couple days and hadn’t been outside and hadn’t been moving. My friend Kevin came down south to my side of the island, and even though it was after noon, the water was calm and so was the wind. I had a new snorkel set and wasn’t sure how it would do, but it worked fine. It was nice to wear a new set of goggles, and Kevin put in anti-fog before we started. The fins had the adjustable back straps, which I don’t like because they slip, but WOW, was it good to have some Zoom! Those things gave me some real push, which helped me get away from the reef a couple of times. Kevin found an arch, and dove down and through it. I hadn’t dove before, so it was good to watch him. Then, he saw a big honu, and he sidled up right to it and swam with it. He found another later, and dove down to that one, but it zoomed off. I was a bit concerned about diving, since I have had problems with my ears in the past, but I tried a couple of times without too much difficulty. Everything was so clear, and I not only saw TONS of fish and beautiful reef, but I saw three large honu, saw my first whale of the season, and I could hear the whales singing. Winter is magical on Maui!

Now that I have a good snorkel set and I feel comfortable out there, I am going to get out much, much more.

Moon Smiling Down and the Ground Shining Up

I just had an amazing few hours with inspirational people. My friend Celeste had a house-warming party, which I knew would be full of awesome people and fun activities. Last time I was there, it was a woman-only gathering, but this time three-legged people were allowed. We brought out the hula hoops, and that was a blast! You could definitely tell right away who had danced before and who hadn’t. The conversation was great, as always, but especially since most people there were spiritually minded folk. At some point, we took part of the gathering to the beach, which was only across the street and through a little path. As Celeste and I walked along the dark path in our light-colored little dresses, I told her I felt like she, Kisha and I are like nymphs, and she immediately grabbed my hand and started skipping forward. She is like the playmate I have been missing since childhood.

What a sight to behold!  A tree arched across our view of the moonlit ocean ahead of us, and as we drew nearer, the crescent moon peered out. It was illuminated at the bottom, and looked just like a cheshire cat’s smile. The path led right up to the water’s edge, and the moon’s path of light. The ocean was calm, the waves gently lapping, and I stood with my arms cradled behind my head, taking in the stars and the feel of warm ocean at my feet, and the coarse slipperiness of the seaweed as it flowed over and around my foot, then back again into the water with the retreating of each wave.

Then, I looked down and somehow saw what looked like a little light in the sand. I thought it might just be a reflection off some glass or something, but I bent down to look closer. I swept my finger gently across this little glow that was no bigger than a few grains of sand. It seemed brighter each time I stroked it. I felt like a kid, holding this unknown beauty of nature, careful with it but curious enough to scoop it into my palm. As it sat there, the light subsided, so I stroked it and it lit again. In fact, at one point, it was pulsing, and I actually saw the light course in a circle along the outside of this little creature. I showed it to friends to make sure I wasn’t seeing things or tripping on the kombucha I drank earlier. They were amazed as well, and one of the guys said that when he lived on Molokai, they called those New Moon and they were everywhere in the water at night. You need absolute darkness to see it glow, so New Moon makes sense to me. I looked up ocean phosphorescence on Google and found this website. I couldn’t find the pdf it referenced, but I then looked at dinoflagellates, and it seems that I was holding a tiny sea creature that was most definitely responding to my touch. My guess is that I was holding a Noctiluca scintillans unica (see picture). Magical!

Noctiluca scintillans unica


SUP on Maui!

I just found the video from my first ever Stand Up Paddle (SUP) session, just a month after landing here on Maui. Suzie Cooney, whom I had met the day before, was the perfect person to introduce me to Maui and SUP. I blogged about it HERE and HERE. Here is the video. (I am in the white and tan striped suit).

It would be a while until I got back on a board (more financial than anything), but I did have the opportunity to partake in some fun. Back in May, Keely and I participated in a Fun Paddle for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a Race weekend. I blogged about it HERE. Here is the video from Ocean Paddler TV. Keely is right behind the announcer in the beginning, getting her board ready, and I follow right behind her. Thankfully, they didn’t get me the many times I fell off my board!

It was a great time hosted by amazing people, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to join in it all. It was definitely a good bonding experience for my daughter and I! Thanks to Olukai and to Suzie Cooney, who turned me on to SUP.

265/333

Beach Bum Mama- In Da House!

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON V-DAY

  • I kick my ankle randomly every time I run, and every time it bleeds like a stuck pig.
  • There are little gnats that are attracted to my computer screen, and I always debate whether to smoosh them on my screen or not
  • I miss my beau and wonder if I will get to see him more often
  • I wonder if he wonders the same. He isn’t much of a talker
  • My plate runneth over—with obligations: I need to find a school for Keely next year, a good one, but I don’t know where I will be living until I find a job. I have no idea where I want to work, so that makes it hard. Plus, I have a beau and family in New Mexico, but I hate cold, and there aren’t any jobs there for pharmacists. So, until I figure out what I want to do with my life, I have to apply to places I might never work and places Keely might never go to school, which is a LOT of work.
  • Taxes are FILED!!! Yeah!! And I am actually getting something back this year
  • I will be a free-loving, earthy crunchy woman who heals the hearts of those around her
  • I want to swim out in the ocean and have whales swim under and around me.
  • I want to surf, stand up paddle, paddle (canoe), ocean swim, kite surf, dive and basically take advantage of any activity this amazing island has to offer.
  • I will defy time and age with a happy heart and healthy life.
  • AMEN

A Whale of a Tail

amy Whale, breaching, Stellwagen Bank National...

Image via Wikipedia

Today, I had the most random, cool whale experience! I was on Keawakapu beach, just soaking up the sun, when I heard the lady next to me gasp and then point to the ocean, telling her son to look at the whale. I looked out and saw a big splash (a breach I am guessing), then a tail came up and slapped the water. There was a boom, like when large fireworks go off in the distance and there is a gap of time before you hear it. Then the tail slapped again, and again. The whale must have slapped its tail 20 times, and each time there was that sound. I think it was about a mile and half out. It seemed kind of odd that it did it so many times.

A boat came racing out of the north and right up to where the whale had been, and then the whale breached. I bet if the boat was much closer, it would have capsized. The driver was definitely breaking the law, as it kept pursuing the whale, which breached about 4 or 5 times. Then, it started slapping its fin. But it didn’t just slap one fin like I usually see. It had both up, like it was on its back, rolling back and forth, swinging the fins side to side and slapping the water. One lady said it might have been giving birth. I doubt it with the breaching, but what do I know? Perhaps there was an escort, which means that boat should probably have not been so close.

Keely’s swim coach told me Friday night about her ocean swim the prior Sunday where she had gone out about a mile and half, and a whale swam right underneath her. She said it was probably only 20 feet away as it and its calf swam around in a circle, checking out the swimmers. I can’t even imagine!!! I really have to make sure to see the whales up close and personal before they leave.

What’s SUP? ME! In a bikini!

I was very fortunate to get to do a free stand up paddle (SUP) clinic with Suzie Cooney on November 13, 2010. It was my birthday gift to myself to indulge in this early morning. It was fantastic!! I blogged about it HERE.

What an awesome day with awesome women!!

Well, there is supposed to be video of the event, but it hasn’t gone up yet. There ARE quite a few photos though, and I am in lots of them. I am usually on the left side, the only one in a white bikini. What can I say? It makes me look more tan. There is even a good one of me holding the board. I look somewhat fit! SEE HERE

Suzie is now in Costa Rica. Must suck, huh?

I really admire what she does and how far she has taken what she loves to do. She has managed to expand her business through following her passion, not the dollars. I am sure the dollars are coming, but I can tell that isn’t her main concern. She really loves to help people and has had her share of injuries she battled through.

I will certainly share the video once it’s up. Excited, even if I look silly!