Thursday, July 06, 2006

Attack of the Turtle

One of the things BFL and I did in Maui was a snorkeling trip out to Molokini and Turtle Town.

Molokini is a big sunken volcanic crater just off Maui’s coast in between Maui and the island of Molokai. It is a bird sanctuary on the island and a marine preserve in the water so the snorkeling is phenomenal there. I’ve been once before in the winter and while we did see many, many wonderful and colorful fish on this trip I do have to say the last time in February was outstanding.

Turtle Town is really just a snorkel and dive spot just off the golf course in the Makena / Wailea, South Maui area. You can probably guess that it’s home to a lot of the giant Hawaiian Sea Turtles. When we got there almost immediately we saw two come up to the surface to breathe. In the water we only saw one. It’s a bit tricky because they do look like rocks so you’re basically swimming along thinking Rock? Turtle? Rock? Wait did that thing just move?

I’m happy to report that the Hawaiian Sea Turtles are no longer endangered. They used to be but they are making a come back and are now only protected. This is very good news. However, as our tour guide said, you still can’t touch them, ride on them, carve things into their shells or give them turtle nuggies. Nor should you want to. The last tour guide we had 4 years ago when we were there told us that they have a bacteria on their shells that can make humans very ill if we ingest it. Also, they carry all sorts of diseases. It was enough to keep this AR germaphobe away! Don’t touch the turtles – got it.

But. Four years ago? One of those, still endangered at that point (and highly diseased), turtles tried to touch me! I swear y’all. True story! I was swimming along minding my own business when I heard TheBoy make that “eh eh” noise so common to people trying to speak with a snorkel in their mouth and turned my head to see a turtle coming up for air. They are truly beautiful to look at when they are swimming. Also, I realized he was maybe coming right at me. And those suckers are faster than you think they would be. Or at least they are faster than my unwieldy ass is in too big rental flippers!

So here I am, doing the swimming equivalent of backpedaling in the water, and that peaceful turtle is just swimming on, intent on his goal. I suppose since the only reason that the turtles even bother coming to the surface is to breathe I can be a little forgiving here. I mean it’s not like he was just popping up for a look-see. But still. All I could think was “holy hell this diseased creature is going to touch me and I am going to be in TROUBLE!” Seriously. The whole way over to Turtle Town all we had heard was Don’t. Touch. The. Turtles.

Finally I just took of my mask because I was actually sucking salt water IN through the snorkel at that point and thought I was going to drown and managed to push myself far enough away so that the turtle came up for air maybe a foot and a half from my shoulder. TheBoy was busy taking pictures from underwater with our handy-dandy water proof camera* and was absolutely NO HELP to me and my dilemma. It felt like hours but I’m sure it has taken me longer to write out the story of this adventure that the whole thing lasted. Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief that I hadn’t been touched and was starting to wonder how far the bacteria, diseases and general germy-ness could travel in sea water I heard a shout from the boat behind me. “DON’T TOUCH THE TURTLE!”

I turned around and treading water with my mask in hand and in the most indignant voice I could muster I shouted back, HE tried to touch ME!”

*Which, by the way, we STILL have not developed the film off of. Or, I do not know where the photos are. That’s the kind of tourist I am y’all.

1 comment:

Michele said...

You couldn't dodge the turtle huh? You know fake left turn right?