Monday, July 5, 2010

Children and Fish: first impressions

We had a remarkable day yesterday. Will and Cathryn, outfitted in snorkel gear, joined me for their first real exploration of an active reef.

Sure, they've snorkeled in Galveston, the lake, and even at Balmorrhea. But its that first experience of seeing ocean fish in a pristine environment that can be a little breathtaking. And it was. Including for me.

We finned out about 100 yards or so, Cat holding my hand at first, until we found our first reef. There we saw all the reef regulars from Sergeant Majors, Yellow Tailed Snapper, and multiple angel fish of all varieties.

We even stumbled upon an eel. It was challenging to tell who had the biggest eyes -- Cat or the eel. He (or she, I couldn't tell) was a menacing looking creature. Mouth open reaching out of his cave. When you first encounter a new sea animal for the first time there is a sense of nervous interest on both parties. We were able to engage this animal long enough that I think Cat won't be so surprised next time.

We were able to get close to several types of puffer fish and a giant Porcupine Fish that we followed for at least a 100 feet or so until he turned around and looked with those plate size eyes questioning our persistence.

We also were able to find the Hawaiian state fish: humuhumunukunukuaupa'a. From diving here before I new it would be easier to find than to pronounce. This beautiful fish is plentiful in coastal waters, is friendly, and typifies the beauty that is Hawaii. It is multicolored with a broad black throat and shimmering scales.

Just beyond the reef there is open water, and in this area it is somewhere around 10,000 feet deep, so we began our turn back. Immediately both Will and Cat developed the seizure stroke that divers usually take on when they see something exciting or unnerving.

Fleeting views at first, it then came into view: a giant sea turtle. We were able to find another one closer to the reef happily munching on sea grass. This area of Kona is know to divers as an area filled with "cleaning stations". These are bizarre and fascinating areas where turtles come to be "cleaned" of parasitic debris by reef fish.

Hovering over the turtle at about 4 feet or so, you enjoy the magnificence that is the ocean. The turtle I'm sure had encountered a human before, but both Cat and Will were wide eyed in awe at this beautiful green creature. It only takes one experience like this to understand the need to protect these animals.

Today was a preview and Kristen and I wanted to get our kid's feet wet with diving in the ocean and experiencing animals in their world.

Tonight we are taking them on a manta ray dive. One of the few places in the world where you can be close and see these animals is Kona. Kristen and I scuba dived this area on our last trip where I had the infamous head butt by a 20 foot Manta sitting on the bottom with a lamp on top of my mask.

We won't do that today, but I'm hoping that Will and Cat can get their first impression of these fine animals. They are large, beautiful, and truly magical as they circle the depths looking for plankton.

More to follow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:N Kaniku Dr,South Kohala,United States

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are having a great time in Hawaii---thanks for sharing!