Finding Links in the Island Chain

The composition of our chain of islands has a perceived yet invisible strand that holds us together. Okay, I’m not much on the topography of the ocean floor. While there may be years of lava flows keeping us tight, the strand I’m referring to is the cultural and emotional strand shared by island residents — no matter which island they’re living on. For the most part, we love our environment, we love our weather and we love our ocean and its wealth of sea dwelling creatures.

A few weeks back, my mother and I took a little whale sighting cruise. We didn’t see any. We were given tickets for a return engagement because of it. With tax time and other responsibilities, we never made it to that free repeat cruise we were promised. So, I went looking for other options. I thought about the submarine ride they have somewhere near Waikiki but Mom is claustrophobic so that wouldn’t be good. There are other sea-going vessels but they’re not all wheelchair accessible. I’m still looking.

In the mean time, I want to share something they have on Maui that I’m wishing we had on Oahu. I will confess at this point that, while we were on that little cruise on Oahu, I couldn’t help but say things to myself like, “I wish we were on Maui; we would be seeing whales if we were on Maui!”

Pride of Maui Whale Watching

There is this business on Maui that has a variety of activities that it offers. A catamaran with “unobstructed, panoramic viewing” sounds good to me! The difference? They’ve taken it a few steps beyond. They’re not just into whale watching, they’re covering all of the ocean basics with a hands-on approach. They’re not just riding on the water, they’re going in the water. Pride of Maui sounds like a great idea if you want to snorkel Maui!

Pride of Maui includes Molokini crater in its list of activities.  I caught myself comparing Maui’s Molokini crater with Oahu’s Hanauma Bay — without the locked gates and restricted parking. I’m being a little tough on Hanauma Bay and I need to remind people that I’m here on Oahu, not over there on Maui. Who knows what’s going on back on Maui’s shore. Perhaps Maui residents can fill us in on this little tidbit.

In Oahu’s (Honolulu’s) defense, the City and County of Honolulu, as irritating as it is, aims only to protect Hanauma Bay from a variety of threats to its health and preservation. Those threats weren’t there thirty-five or forty years ago. We had free reign back then.

National Geographic green sea turtleOne of the things that caught my attention with this venue of Maui snorkeling was their inclusion of snorkeling at “Turtle Town” on their list of activities. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. No, Pride of Maui didn’t make it up — it’s an actual area on Maui, or rather, along the shoreline of Maui where the turtles hang out.

As paranoid as I am about preservation, I was happy to find that I didn’t have to look too far to be sure that Pride of Maui is paranoid about it too. The warning is right on their site:

“The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are a protected species. Close encounters are sometimes initiated by the turtles. We respect their space and have discovered that by swimming calmly and respectfully, they will often swim closer to get a look at you.”

“Touching, chasing, or riding the turtles is unlawful and strictly prohibited.”

Thank you for that, Pride of Maui. I appreciate it when the tourist/business industry takes these things seriously! Mahalo to National Geographic for that honu picture!

I was happy to hear on one of the news channels recently that the Hawaiian sea turtle, honu, has recovered, for the most part, quite nicely. The comment made was that, what they thought would take 100 years to restore, has taken only 30. They’re still protected but at least we can see that our preservation efforts are not in vain. Perhaps sometime in our lifetime we will hear the same about our humpback whales!

The beauty of our natural environment extends from the tropical rain forests to the deep, life-sustaining oceans. The islands share these things in common and are linked by these cultural and emotional threads. We’re all working on preserving the environment along with the language and culture that makes Hawaii who and what we are! Island businesses are contributing to our ability to learn and share these things with each other and with our visitors.

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