Sweet Tuamotus, Last round through …

 

The majestic Humphead/Napolean Wrasse. This guy is 3.5 feet!

I’m going to ask Marcus to wax poetic about our final weeks in the Tuamotus. Suffice it to say that this region of French Polynesia is most definitely a favorite of ours and I even heard Marcus say he could live there. If fresh produce was available, I might be on board! For the time being, these pics can be a placeholder. These are shots from Tahanea, Fakarava and Rangiroa.

I shot a gazillion shots to finally snag this one! Thanks, Katie, for holding such enthusiasm!

 

 

More Moorea

First reliable wifi in over 6 months, so I will be making a series of blog posts trying to get caught up! We last left off in Moorea (Oct.’18), so here are a few last shots of the island which, although somewhat touristy, provided sweet memories and special encounters. Next up, the remote Austral’s …

We waited a while to leave Moorea for the Australs, which was just fine. Plenty of nice diving with our new tanks and gear, bike rides and friends. And whales. In the wind forecasts there always seemed to be a stubborn trough (meaning squalls and confused seas) situated right across the route. No doubt it’s there most of the time in the spring. We finally left, deciding that it wasn’t ever going to really go away, and that anything that looked halfway decent was probably the best we could hope for. 

The forecast was for diminishing winds, so after a rough start (including yours truly experiencing a rare though mercifully brief bout of seasickness after going forward to set up the check stays at dusk, we settled in and the wind and seas finally did seem to mellow. Too make sure we made it to Rurutu not too late we also decided to fly the Asym, which we are normally reluctant to do at night. All fine on Diana’s watch, but instead of continuing to decrease the winds built on mine. The plan was to wake her up to furl the sail if the breeze tipped 16 knots. It hit 18, twice and finally I woke her. By the time we started furling it was blowing 22 knots and the bowsprit was nearly bent in half. It was almost impossible to get the sail in. When the wind did die, as forecast, we could no longer fly our Asym. 

The Turtles of Oponohu

We are now equipped to dive aboard Allora, so it’s been our pleasure to explore the coral canyons outside the pass in Moorea and we’ve been rewarded with countless Hawksbill Turtle encounters.
Much like the Manta’s belly markings, the ‘mosaic’ pattern on the turtles’ cheek is unique to the individual, so I’ve been getting carried away with my Sony RX100V (in its housing, thanks Marcus for finding a great little camera!) trying to get shots to share with local researchers. ~DS

To Be A Dolphin!

I don’t know quite how to describe the magic of diving with dolphins. They played, they chatted, they rolled and swooped, they came over begging us to rub their bellies. We lost track of our depth and where we were. They came to see us two out of our three dives in Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass. It was probably better the second time, because it was easier to slow down and take it in, rather than worry that they would only be there for a moment. It was wonderful to swim with them in their element, to watch one jump up out of the water, looking from below. In Baja we always debated which we loved more dolphins or whales (now there’s a silly argument), and it generally depended on which we’d seen most recently. I remember us saying, ‘dolphins, definitely dolphins’ once, and seriously just few minutes later a humpback breached out of nowhere and it was ‘whales, definitely whales.’ Guess what the sentence is now? ~MS

©DS You’d see them from a distance and then in a flash, they’d be swirling all around you, doing all the tricks you maybe once saw on Flipper?!
©DS Master swimmers, elegant gliders, they move as if in a choreographed, perfect dance.
©DS Something to behold!
©DS Not sure whether I was more enamored with their clicking sounds or their smiles?!
©DS They’d go up to the surface to breathe and we’d just wait and hope they’d come back down and find us! We met a family with young enough kids that they were just snorkeling, but they shared stories of these moments when the dolphins would come up playing on the surface as well.
©DS The rostrum is the hard, beak-like mouthpart. Their sense of smell is poor, with no olfactory nerves or lobe in the brain.
©DS This is a world class dive spot mainly because of these dolphin pods, so they are quite accustomed to human swimmers and their curiosity matches ours, or so it seems.
©DS They normally travel from 4 – 10 feet per second, but they can reach speeds of 26-31 feet per second for short bursts of time.
This school of Longfin Bannerfish lends a bit of scale!
@DS Appreciating the abstracts in-between forays with the dolphins!

The wildlife of these remote atolls, which were originally called the Puamotus (poor islands) where lesser chiefs were once exiled, is addictive. It never stops. ~MS

©BB The dive club sends out a pro photographer (Bernard Beaussier), so he has some fun shots which show the scale of these rather large and gentle lovelies and a bit of our awe!
©BB They’d disappear and then WHOOSH, they’d be back in a flash and spinning circles around us! AHHHH!!!

 

©BB The Common Bottlenose Dolphin has impressive measurements; an average of 3 meters and weighs about 300 kg!
©BB Sometimes I’d just pause with my own camera, to be sure to really take in the magic.

Madison’s Tuamotus Visit

We’ve fallen in love with the Tuamotus, as most people do, so getting to share this utopia with Maddi over her winter break was really special. We’d promised a much needed rest, but ended up playing pretty hard, so hopefully her soul was recharged and enriched by the warm, turquoise waters brimming with life and the sun kissed days filled with simple, yet active goals. We ended up hanging out in Fakarava and Tahanea, two atolls with abundant wildlife/wilderness, (always appreciated by Maddi) and we just may have spent as many hours in the sea as out of it! We’d been renting diving gear from a local provider in the south of Fakarava, but once we met up with our cruising friends, m/v Starlet, they ‘hooked us up’ with tanks and together, with s/v Makara, we dove daily.  Pics of these shared adventures will be on the next post, but here we focus on our middle daughter, the shark whisperer.~DS