Friday, March 28, 2008

Spinner Dolphins, Whales, Sea Turtles, and More

5:45 AM is early for a pickup... especially in Hawaii, when everything is supposed to be on "Hawaiian Time," but we sat bleary-eyed at our pickup point waiting for our van... which arrived mostly on-time to whisk us out to the Leeward coast of Oahu, just in time to rendezvous with the modified Zodiac in Waianae Boat Harbor.

The boat is fast and small, and soon we are bouncing on the waves to arrive at a point just offshore where spinner dolphins have been spotted earlier in the morning. Spinners are active nocturnally, and come inshore to rest during the day. Soon, we have spotted several pods, and we don mask and fin to swim amongst the dolphins. The water is cold and clear, the visibility excellent, and we soon forget the coldness and the earlyness of the hour and float, taking in the wonder of these marvelous creatures swimming lazily around and under us. In the distance a playful duo break the surface and whirl into the air, playful marine dervishes spinning. I wonder to myself if they get dizzy. We enjoy sights of several large groups swimming among us -- close enough, but not too close. Among the pod are several babies wedged between their mothers and other members of the group, no doubt for protection from this intrusion of strange land creatures.

After a period we climb back aboard our rubberized platform to speed off in search of whales, who come to the Hawaiian Islands during the winter months to mate and calf. During a high-speed transit to a potential viewing location, we catch sight of a pod of bottlenose dolphins, a larger seagoing species which is more often found farther to sea and in the middle of oceans. The captain maneuvers the boat in a tight, high-speed circle, and soon we glimpse a pair of dolphins surfing the wake of our boat. The dolphins stay with us as someone catches sight of a Humpback whale and her calf. We slow down to drink in this awesome sight... The whales are bigger than our boat, and could easily capsize us if they so desired! The dolphins mix and frolic for awhile with the pair of Humpbacks, and too soon it is time for us to depart.

Our final destination is a snorkeling stop just off Makaha Beach Park, where we anchor just oceanside of the surfers. The snorkling here is good, with coral heads dotting up here and there from a sandy bottom, and, again, visibility is excellent. We catch sight of dozens of species of colorful tropical fish, and a Green Sea Turtle glides lazily below, gracefully flapping her flippers as if flying through air.

Too quickly our time is over, and we climb aboard the boat, tired but happy to have had the experience of swimming with dolphins, and of spotting whales, turtles, and other sea creatures. This is time and money well spent, and will probably be my favorite excursion in the Hawaiian Islands.

(Web site: )

No comments: