Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Birthday, Snorkel Day, Whale Day

We set the alarm this morning and rushed through breakfast buffet to make it to the snorkeling excursion on time. The boat was small and the two girls piloting it were college students. Maybe. But we hopped on anyway, all slicked down with 80 proof sunscreen and carrying the waterproof camera we got yesterday at Hilo Walmart.

Ira seemed tentative about the whole excursion.  I was most worried about cold water.  The Big Island Revealed says water temp in Hawai'i is consistent year-round, but it IS February.

We took the long route to Captain Cook Beach and saw a sea cave and some lava flows that can't be accessed except by boat. We learned once more about a'a and pahoehoe, the two types of lava. Then we each received a pair of flippers in our own size, along with a snorkeling mask and tube.  In time we got our gear on the right way and slid over the side for some serious snorkeling. The water was warm. We could see a large coral reef about 15 feet below us, and schools of Needle-Nose fish and orange Tang fish, no doubt named for the breakfast drink.  Periodically we all had to paddle around, cough, and clear the salt water out of our masks.

We each had a snack of Fritos and papaya while the girl-pilots dropped a hydrophone into the water so we could listen to the singing of the Humpback Whales.  Their calls echo, and are like a cross between mooing and howling.  Whales from each region have one common song and that song becomes more elaborate each time the whales return to their breeding ground.  According to the guides, the song of the whale is not just noise but indeed a melody, with a beginning, guitar break, and end. 

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