Monday, 21 November 2011

Hoops without snow

My Dinos are a few weeks into their regular season though I have not as yet made a game (two this weekend, though). It's cold and snowy in Calgary. Not in Maui, which among other things is the home to one of the premier pre-season NCAA basketball tournaments, the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
2,400 seats. 30% smaller than Calgary's gym, similar to Groningen
I don't follow the NCAA, but catch good basketball when I can, and so I asked my NCAA following friends and went to two tournament games.

First up: Michigan vs Memphis, both top 25 ranked teams.
#1 Jackson fires a long one for Memphis
Michigan took Memphis fairly easily by killing them in the transition game. Head to head, it was pretty even, but when Michigan went fast, Memphis couldn't get organized. Final 73-61. Tim Hardaway Jr. was a standout for Michigan (His dad was in the crowd; he played for Golden State, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers, and was the 2nd fastest player in NBA history to make 5,000 points).

Next: Duke vs Tennessee.
Tennessee's #34 Maymon & #0 Makanjuola rebound
Two Plumlees play for Duke, brothers #5 Mason & #21 Myles 
Duke had their hands full with Tennessee, but won in the end. Tennessee stayed with them or led the whole first half, and had Tennessee's shooting been better in the first half they would have taken it in a walk. But the first half shots didn't fall, and Duke finally won by 10, 77-67. Duke's Austin Rivers (son of NBA coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics) was a player to watch. He doesn't pass it off enough, but he's got a great outside shot and a constant willingness to drive to the net. Mason Plumlee plays just like Ross Bekkering, who used to play for Calgary but now plays in Holland (or he would it he were not injured).
#0 Rivers with Mason Plumlee & #34 Kelly
But an absolute highlight for me was seeing Coach K. of Duke, as of last week the winningest coach in NCAA history with now 904 victories.
Mike Krzyzewski
The man is a legend.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

I got to pet a turtle! I got to pet a turtle!

I always recommend visitors to Maui go to the Maui Ocean Centre. While not that large, it's a great aquarium and a nice place to spend the better part of a day. You get a chance to clearly see some of the critters you see in the oceans here, only in MUCH clearer water, and you even get to see nocturnal guys during the day.
My typical snorkeling view, with Tangs, Idols and Unicornfish
Banded Coral shrimp, a nocturnal dude
An Hawaiian Turkeyfish, another nocturnal dude
Amenemomees. Or something like that.
Seahorses are pretty common, though where I don't know
Frogfish. Masters of camouflage
Whitemouth Moray. I see a lot of these.
A napping octopus
I learned today that octopus only live 10-14 months, which I think makes seeing them all the more fun. So far this trip we've seen about 5.
Moon jellyfish.  The only jellies I see here are bad ones.
We lucked out at some of the things happening at the aquarium today. We watched 25 lbs of food being prepared for the big pelagic tank with all the rays, sharks and giant trevalleys, and got to see feeding time.
Stingrays, but not the kind I have seen here
But the best part of all was getting to spend time with and shake hands with young green sea turtles, who we swim with all the time (we saw 14 the other day, and at one point were swimming with 5 at once). The MOC is part of a breeding and release program for these guys. They get hatchlings, raise them until they're about 2 or so, then let them go. Today was "weigh day" for the 6 18 month old dudes they have, so they pull them out of the enclosure, and get checked over by a vet. You're also allowed (under a watchful vet's eye) to touch them.
Measure time 
An impatient patient 
"Look mom, I'm an albatross!"
"Can I go back in the water now?"
It was VERY cool to be able to touch these guys, and they are much softer than I thought they would be (OK, except for the shells). They're endangered, so it's illegal to touch them in the wild (and they're usually covered in algae anyway).

I think that petting a turtle is right up there as the high point of this vacation. Also good was the pass-by of a group of spinner dolphins earlier in the week. I tried valiantly to get some good shots, but this was the best I could do.
Two spinners at the surface

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Birds and pigs

It's always fun to go birdwatching in Maui, especially to find native birds, most of whom are rare or endangered. They become endangered by habitat loss (the result of turning the islands into resorts, planting non-native trees that mean native bugs have no homes), and competition from non-native birds.

For the first time, we got to the Kealia Pond wetland, and saw the rare Hawaiian Stilt, or Ae'o (as he is known in Hawaii). They're rare (only about 1,800 left), but not in Kealia Pond.
About 50 of them hiding from the wind
We went birding upcountry on our favourite trail and found (but could not photograph) some 'Apapane (a red and black nectar feeder that likes trees that are very rare) and 'Alauahio (a high speed green tennis ball of a bird), but did get shots of 'Amakihi.
Hangin' in a mamane tree 
The curved beak is a giveaway
We hike this trail every time we are on Maui, and every time, there is more damage from the feral pigs and goats up there at the 6,000' level. This time, for the first time ever, we saw the pigs, and not just once, but we had two different sightings.
Not very big, and in a hurry
We were surprised at how small they are, being no more than about 12" tall and 24" long.

It's been REALLY busy on the island. Here's one of the beaches we were on.
People as far as the eye can see
Jam packed with tourists. Don't you just hate paradise?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Shades of Gilligan's Island

Last month, a 49' boat sailing from San Diego to Honolulu got into trouble 700 miles north east of Hilo on the Big Island. Too far away from land for the Coast Guard, a cruise ship went out of it's way to perform a rescue. The story and a cool video of the rescue is available here.

Once abandoned, the boat drifted, and it beached itself this week on Maui. We had to go find it. It ended up on a beach we haven't been to before (!) where it is quite the tourist attraction.
Worse for wear 
The crowds
It was an interesting beach, complete with sand dunes ready for dune jumping...
Shades of Oregon
...and low flying aircraft.
Under the runway
It was a "local's beach" not frequented by tourists. What this means is that there was lots of trash. Shame that. I always find it interesting that the locals treat their island very badly, then complain (in the paper, anyway) about the tourist wrecking the island. I've always found its the other way around.