This morning was almost perfect! We got up early (not really, 5 am) in order to get started before the sunrise dive. We spent the night moored in the bay at Miloli`i. We were very sheltered for the wind, and spent the night rocking mildly in the surf, unlike the 5 foot waves our previous two nights.
Back it was into Manuka Bay. We were waiting for the dive briefing at 6 am, which was not forthcoming, so we bowed out and let the crew know that we would be on our own this morning. It was good to get in before everyone else and take off for parts where we would not be followed. One of the first unusual things we saw was a box jellyfish (or what I call a Matthew thingy from the deep). We continued to tool around, and as we were headed back, I found a dragon moray - woo hoo! Those are not easy to find. From there we ran across a group of Heller’s barracuda on our way back to the KA II. Lo and behold, on the KA II we saw a baby honu on the hang bar. Too cute for words.
If only I had had my memory card in the Canon. :p At least Wayne had his.
From there we moved north, and hit Au Au Crater, a familiar spot, reminiscent of Honaunau, with even another honu towards the end of the dive. There we saw both beautiful antler coral, and antler coral taking a beating. And a plethora of yellow tang. It is good to see the species rebounding. There was whale song during the dive, and a pair apparently passed us about 200 yards away. So close to that encounter, and yet so far!
We spotted some pilot whales on our way to our third dive site. The whales stayed close to the catamaran, so the Captain told us to go ahead and snorkel. I didn’t get any great shots, they were quite a bit away, but I did get good shots of the dolphins following them along. And earned my lunch.
Lunch today was Mexican themed - we had quesadillas, beans, rice, and a guacamole salad. Very nice.
Our third dive was at Driftwood. There are two lava flows on either side of a tunnel, and a sandy patch in between. We entered the deep end of the tunnel and went through. We found a helmet shell having lunch. I wish I had seen more, there were over a dozen crowns of thorns across the dive site. We did encounter a shy porcupine puffer fish, and I had a stare-off with an arc eyed hawkfish. I think we both won.
Once we were on board, off it was to “Mantaville,” which is actually the Sheraton Keauhou. We went in and did an orientation dive for the manta dive tonight, and we noticed hundreds of yellow tangs, eels roughly every 10 feet, and thousands of spiny urchins. We will have to be careful where we plant ourselves tonight for the dive. It is extremely silty there, as there is a well traveled harbor. It felt like I needed to rinse my mouth of the silt when we came up.
Dinner was Italian themed - a spicy marinara sauce with prawns over black bean pasta, topped with kale. I think that is the only way that I will ever eat beans. I know my mother cries as I say that... Wayne got the kale from my plate. Our chef has a tendency to make things spicy and with a lot of garlic. We like!
Then we were off to manta dive, at what the crew calls “Manta Mayhem.” It’s a tradition with the dive outfits here - the site has one name by day, and a different, manta based name at night.
Almost as soon as we reached the dive site, there was a fly by of one manta. I then spent several minutes trying to find a place to occupy where I had something to hold onto - the current was going pretty strong. That manta was the only one we saw all evening. :( Our greatest entertainment came from the local undulated moray, which wrapped itself around several members of our party, some of whom freaked out. After 26 minutes I was cold. At 33 I was freezing, and signaled Wayne. At 42, I looked at Wayne, he looked at me as if waiting for a question, and I signed “boat.” He gave an ok sign and nodded vigorously. We followed the chem light lit trail back to the boat and got back on. In the process, I swallowed a lot of silty seawater, and basically felt like I could not breathe. After a few minutes of hacking up a lung, I got out of the wetsuit, and into my yoga jammies to start the blog.
Good night, all!