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

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