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USA - Big Island, Hawaii

UNITED STATES OUTLYING ISLANDS | Tuesday, 6 January 2009 | Views [783]

Spinner dolphins

Spinner dolphins

Arrived at Kona, Big Island, Hawaii and hired a car as you can't get anywhere without one. Local transport is non existent. Stayed at Mango Sunset B&B - well that is another story!!!!.

Hawaiian Monk Seal:

On the first day, went driving around and stopped at a local beach where to my amazement, a Hawaiian Monk Seal was basking in the sun. There were a group of marine volunteers looking after it. When talking to them I found out that there are appx 1000 monk seals left in the wild so they are virtually extinct due to fishing. This seal just happened to pass by and stay on the shore for the day. They are nocturnal feeders so it probably had a large meal and was resting. They don't usually stay on the beach for a long time especially so close to humans and this was a first. The seal was tagged and they knew it was an 18 month old pup (which was still quite massive). The seal basked in the sun and scratched its nose and moved about a bit and lay on the beach from 9:30 to apx 18:30! I was very lucky to see this beautiful endangered animal so close up. 

Christina joined me the next day and we travelled together. we did some fun things like go on a helicopter ride over the island and volcanoes

Volcanoes

Wow this was such an incredible ride. We flew over the mountains Mauna Kea and Mauna Lea whcih were snow capped. We hen flew over the volcanic area of Kilauea which is very active. We could see the lava flows and lava skylights where you could see the glowing lava. We saw the steam vents and the lava flows into the sea which sent up a huge plume of steam. We saw the roads which were blocked by lava flows. We then landed on a road outside a house which is the only one occupied in the area. The owner, Jack, came out to meet us and we had a chat with him about his life there. Jack is the only person living in the highly active lava flow area. He had a great sense of humour (ou need t to stay there). He showed us around the lava flows where there were hot steam vents all around us. The most recent lava flow had been in Oct 2008, 3 months earlier!!! Jack told us how he lives on brown rice and the fruit (mango, guava, jackfruit) and veg that he grows. For me, this was the highlight of the flight.

Seahorses

We visited a seahorse 'farm' where they raise seahorses for research as well as pets/marine centres. It was beautiful to see the way they do this and to actually feel the seahorses around your hand when you get to hold them. We also saw sea dragons which are beautiful elaborate fishes.

Mantas

This trip would not have been complete without the only dive we did in Hawaii. A night dive with the Mantas - report from Hona Konu divers about our dive: 

"Preparing for a single tank dive, we learned our sister ship, the Iki, headed south for the manta dive as there have been mantas reported there every night and north has been weak of late.  Hmmm, lotsa boats, urchins, surge....someone has to break out, so north we headed and settled in with our fellow adventurers from Big Island. 
Had mantas at the back of the boat during the briefing so we got in and set up at the shallow ring.  15 divers and 20 snorkelers enjoyed the slowly building show of Koie, Blain, Big Bertha, Vicky, and Wing Ray with about a 2 on the planktometer.  Being such an intimate crowd, the mantas came very close, moved slowly and shared equally between divers and snorks to everyone's joy.  One of the nicest encounters I've had in some time.  The surge was moderate but nobody tumbled, and there was a light wind from the west.  Nice to see Bertha again and always nice to be north. Aloha,Bo Pardau
Kona Honu Divers"

All I can say is that the mantas were HUGE. Big Bertha must have had a 20 foot wingspan! There were 5 mantas and all came very, very, very close to us. One headed straight for me and swam up at the last second. They were the most beautiful, graceful, amazing creatures I have ever seen. We had torches and they attract the plankton whom the mantas come to feed on. When they open their mouths, you can see right through their body! The mantas were swimming in circles and doing somersaults. Two even swam up aganst each other. It was sooo beautiful.

Oh yeahh and we saw a giant lobster on the swim back to the boat and Christina wanted him for dinner.

Whale watching

The adventures continued when we went on a whale watching trip with Captain Dan Sweeny. We spotted hump back whales spouting and then diving so that we could see their tails going into the water. It was a it far but a beautful sight to behold neverthe less. On the way back to shore, we were accompanied by a group of appx 20 Spinner dolphins who were swimming pretty fast and occasionally spinning. It was beautiful.

Tags: helicopter, hump back whales, mantas, monk seal, volcano

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