Tradewinds whip through the harbor as I stand in line waiting to board the ship. Ma’alaea is the second windiest harbor in the world, and you can tell. Once everyone’s seats are secured, the tour sets to course and the winds calm. The day proceeds with clear waters and soft clouds gently gracing the top of Haleakalā, Maui’s famous volcano. The moon lingers for a while over Lanai as the crew doles out our banana bread and pineapple slices.
I come to learn the trade winds from the harbor are responsible for carving out the Molokini rock in its horseshoe shape. Its mass was created over time by volcanic eruptions rising from the ocean, layer by dense layer. Its unique shape has played a key roll in the developement of the underwater ecosystem. There is protection with in the curved walls so coral thrives, schools of fish team and the lack of sand and dirt make for crystal clear waters.
In the sky are thousands of black birds. With wings spanning up to 6 ft., suspending their 2 lbs. bodies in a perpetual state of flowing as the winds swirl over head. The Hawaiians call them Iwa, which means thief – for their tendencies to take from the deck. Under water is a vast day-glow luminescent green seascape; what look like Romanesco broccoli, cauliflower and an infinite number of baby fingers, small piles of spikes and bright yellow fishes. At first glance, there was only water and coral but once relaxed and comfortably floating more and more revealed itself. Intricate creatures making their way in and out of increasingly smaller spaces. A lesson on the symbiotic relationships of coral and algae, Slate-Pencil Sea Urchins and sand-making parrot fish gave the second snorkeling stop a profound new perspective.
As the ship floated away from Molokini a crew member pointed out the island just beyond. The island Kaho’olawe, is the exact center of the island chain and is considered a sacred Hawaiian domain. Hawaiians have taught oceanic navigation from the top of this island using stars and shorelines for many centuries.
At the end of the five-hour tour the captain stopped to say “Aloha” to a few green sea turtles while the crew gave a presentation on marine debris.
I left more educated on important issues effecting todays ocean life and with a sense of empowerment about my
own role in aiding the ocean’s healthy survival. Our underwater world is too amazing to take for granted.
Below is the video we were able to capture before both gopros batteries died.