Tag Archives: Hawaiian Monk Seal

Living in Paradise

Hawaiian Monk Seals at Play

Photo by Larry Hogan, taken March 8, 2013 while we were diving at Sea Cave, Oahu, HI

The breeze rustles through the palm trees as you store your gear on the boat and get everything ready for today’s dive. Once in the water you have the feeling of almost being weightless as you glide effortlessly and gracefully through the warm tropical salt water.

As you enter the open-top Sea Cave you start to watch three playful Hawaiian Monk Seals swimming overhead. As they watch you they become curious, and finally venture down from the surface to investigate.

For what seems like hours the playful seals gracefully glide past, seemingly performing an underwater ballet with you. They rub their whiskers on you to investigate you almost like a dog sniffing you.  They stare inquisitively at you only inches away, cocking their heads from side to side. From time to time sipping off of the air bubbles released from your scuba system so that they can stay down longer with you. You then realize that you are one of the fortunate few that will ever have the opportunity to swim with or even see the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals this close in person.

Scuba diving is an experience like no other. Once you become comfortable underwater, you start to feel at one with nature. On a Drift Dive, the feeling of floating where the sea takes you underwater is like no other, it is one of the most free feelings I have ever experienced.

Unfortunately living in Hawaii everyday you start to take it all for granted. You begin to just think of it as just another day like any other. You no longer notice the breeze as it gently drifts through the palms, or the slight salt mist in the air. You no longer appreciate the gentle tropical flower scents all around you.

I have lived in Hawaii for the past eleven years, and I do not know when this transformation happened to me. I did not even realize that it had happened until I started scuba diving this year. The more I dive the more I start to take notice of things again, like a veil is being lifted off of my senses. I start to appreciate again that yes, I truly do live in Paradise.

Dive 86

Date: July 4, 2013          Repetitive Dive: 2 of 4

Time In:  14:16    Time Out:  14:49         Time:   :33

Location: Koko Craters,  Oahu, Hawaii

Dive Shop:  N/A

Purpose: Solo Kayak Dive

Dive Type: Kayak    Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  Moderate Current                Weight:  14lbs.

Visibility: 80-90′

Air Temp:   82       Bottom Temp:  76.6

Max Depth:  34.0′       Average Depth: 28.3′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 2,873    End PSI: 2,253      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: Spare Air, iGills

Notes:

This was the 2nd solo kayak dive for the day. Saw 4 Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and a Hawaiian Monk Seal on this dive, unfortunately I could not get close enough to read his ID number to identify him with.

Headed back to shore to meet up with a friend for a couple boat night dives from his inflatable RIB.

iGills Snapshot

Adapt . . . Improvise . . . Overcome

We scheduled two dives today with a group from Facebook to dive the Sharks Cove area this morning and I was really looking forward to it.

I wake up extra early, drive across the island to get to the North Shore early enough to find a place to park with my dive trailer. Two hours later everyone else shows up so we get ready for the first dive which will be entering at Three Tables and exiting at Firehouse.

After kitting up we walked all the way through the park to the entrance for Three Tables and started our surface swim out to the dive site. Since I am pulling the dive trailer with me I had to park up at the Sharks Cove parking lot and walk all the way to the entrance to Three Tables which is quite a walk caring all of my dive gear with me. By the time we reached the spot where we would descend I started having a minor asthma attack so I canceled the first dive and headed back to shore. A couple quick puffs of my inhaler and I was back to normal. I had not had an incident like that in years, then I happened to look at my inhaler and noticed that it had expired last December, luckily it still worked.

About an hour later the guys reached Firehouse and exited from their first dive, so I grabbed my gear and met them for the second dive, from Firehouse to Sharks Cove. Since I had the issue which canceled the first dive I decided to take my DPV with me for the second dive so that I could relax and not exert myself to avoid a relapse.

As we entered the water at Firehouse I put my mask and gloves on and started putting my fins on preparing to start the dive when a buckle on one of my Oceanic V-12 fins broke off in my hand. I carry extra fin straps in my dive trailer incase one breaks, but this time the stud that holds the buckle onto the fin broke off, so there was no quick fix to save the fin for the dive. I also noticed that my iGills backup computer had malfunctioned and would not start logging the dive. Since I was already in the water I could not open its case and reset it, so no iGills.

After thinking about it for a minute I got the feeling that someone just flat did not want me diving today. Murphy’s Law came to mind . . . “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. It seemed that Murphy was working overtime on me today.

Then I remembered a Marine Corps mantra . . . “Adapt, Improvise, & Overcome”. I decided that nothing was going to make me miss both of todays planned dives. Murphy had beaten me once, he may have won the first battle, but the war was far from over. I would make this dive even if I didn’t have a pair of fins to use.

I strapped the broken fins to a d-ring on my BCD, grabbed my DPV and headed into the ocean. Not having the weight of the fins on my feet made me off balanced to say the least. The first few minutes of the dive were comical as I fought for control of my balance and trim in the water. John, one of the other divers on this excursion suggested that I at least put the one good fin on, which made control in the water much easier. I placed the one good fin that I had remaining on my left foot, then hooked my ankles together and used a modified “Mermaid” kicking style for the remainder of the dive which helped quite a bit.

I got quite a few stares and inquisitive looks from other divers that we ran across on the dive. I bet they had never seen someone dive with a single fin like that before.

About half-way through the dive we came across a very large Hawaiian Monk Seal (#32) swimming overhead and I reached for my GoPro to snap a few photos as it was playing with a snorkelers fin at the surface. Just as I turned the GoPro on and got ready to start snapping photos it locked up on me preventing me from being able to use it or reset it.

With all of the problems on this dive, from dive computers and cameras not working to fins breaking and asthma attacks, I’m not even going to log this dive. Maybe I can try it again next time and have better luck.

UPDATE:  Since my camera was having issues, here is a video shot by John Dooling and some photos of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, Hawaiian Monk Seal, and other sea life that we saw on the dive taken by Lisa Zick-Mariteragi.

Dive 12

Date: March 8, 2013       Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii, Hawaii Kai, HI.

Location: Sea Cave,  Oahu, Hawaii

Visibility: 125′       Air Temp:   84       Bottom Temp:  75      Weight:  18lbs.

Depth:  59′       Time:   :42

Start PSI: 3,000    End PSI: 500      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: Spare Air

Notes:

Nitrox Specialty certification dive. We did a drift dive by Sea Cave today as our second dive. We were extremely surprised to see 3 Hawaiian Monk Seals (1 female, and 2 males) playing inside the Sea Cave. We stayed there with them for about 30 minutes allowing them to come down from the surface and check us out and allow us to take photos of them. Also saw Moray Eels, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, a large school of Hawaiian Barracuda, and several star fish along the cliffs and ledges.

Dive 5

Date: February 9, 2013       Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii, Hawaii Kai, HI.

Location: Koko Craters,  Oahu, Hawaii

Visibility: 65′ +      Air Temp:   84       Bottom Temp:  75      Weight:  22lbs.

Depth:  38′       Time:   :34

Start PSI: 3,000    End PSI: 1,000      Air/EANx:  21%

Non-training “fun dive” with Nate from Island Divers Hawaii. Saw several turtles, trumpet fish, and a extremely rare Hawaiian Monk Seal.

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