It's Saturday, August 13, 2005 and another Turtle Trax weekly summary is due. This of course means that we have to devote a considerable amount of very precious Maui-time to this webpage update.
Essentially, it's time in front of a computer that we could be devoting to working on our book (manuscript due in a crazy-short amount of time). Also, if we're toiling away at our computers, we're not on or in the ocean.
So our Saturday update pulls us away from that also.
Still, we recognize the importance of each weekly summary. We often make use of them when we are back in Canada and when we ask a question such as, "What were the algae conditions in 1999?"
Our weekly updates for that year will tell us. In essence, our summaries serve as an important part of our "field notes." So we suck it up and get it done.
When Ursula was still teaching, her report cards had a mark for "Uses time wisely." We're still working on getting an A.
This week while diving at Kuamo'o, we resighted a male we'd known at Honokowai during Summers 2000 and 2001. Despite his missing left front flipper, he continues to fare well in the growing department. So his new Napili-area home seems to suit him.
The other good news is that the turtles at Kuamo'o are getting used to our presence. One strategy we've developed is "When in Rome..." At this particular "Rome," Kuamo'o, turtles like to rest in the sand and do nothing.
We've therefore taken to lying in the sand as well. On one dive this week, Ursula settled in front of a turtle already resting in the sand. (She is of the belief that the most reassuring "face" to win over a wary turtle is your butt.) Peter then settled behind the turtle.
Then all three of us, well, hung out on the sand.
A turtle swam toward us, and if there's one thing a swimming turtle has difficulty passing up, it's a chance to bug someone who is just going about his/her own business.
As we've already reported, turtles looking for trouble have a peculiar affinity for Ursula. Fortunately for her, this particular honu zeroed in on the resting male. Oh well, less amusement for Peter.
We've known the turtle sprawled in the foreground since 1999--a Honokowai regular fixture every summer. In 2001 and 2002, the young turtle's tail grew suspiciously larger. In 2003, we officially declared him as MALE in our database.
This summer he'd been gone--until this week, when he showed up with the shiny spanky clean shell that we've now come to regard as the Hallmark of turtles newly back from their French Frigate Shoals migration.
We knew what we were witnessing was the end of this young male's first there-and-back breeding journey. Judging by the lack of flipper scars, he didn't impress the ladies enough to pass his genes on.
Also judging by his inability to keep his eyes open, his Rite of Passage drained him down to the last of his honu juices.
His presence attracted a fellow male who decided to drop by and give him a look-over. At least he was considerate about it and let the poor sot sleep.
Sighted this week, she had "87" painted on her shell. To our surprise, she had the largest tumor load that we've ever seen on a successful nesting female. We know from the monitoring program that fibropapilloma makes its appearance at the honu breeding grounds fairly regularly. What we didn't realize is that even a moderate tumor load does not appear to interfere with reproduction--yet another indication that FP is not the threat to the survival of the honu that we once thought it was.
After completing a snorkel survey, Peter mentioned he'd photographed a turtle with its right front flipper missing. By his guess, it was a shark attack. He loaded his images onto the computer and Ursula took one look at the turtle's right profile. She recognized the unfortunate honu immediately.
It was Uwapo.
We've known Uwapo since 1997 and this honu had been a daily fixture on our reefs. Except Summer 2004. Missing. In our Summer Summary for 2004, we wrote, "Uwapo, a daily feature on our reefs for years, made no appearance at all."
Now we're left to wonder if she was spending her time in shallow water recovering from her grievous injury.
While the tear seems to have healed cleanly, this is such small comfort. What with George losing his right front flipper some time between 2001 and 2002 and now Uwapo's injury... we can no longer be objective about tiger sharks.
Just like with fibropapilloma. It's one thing to find a severe tumor load on a stranger. It's quite another when it's on an old friend. One thing to see a flipper-less turtle. Absolutely another when you've watched enthralled at the turtle's graceful glide from the surface.
We had fun things that we wanted to report, but after discovering Uwapo and her condition, we'd rather just end our Week 6 summary with one final thing.
||Week 7 Summary|
||Summer of '05 at Honokowai|
||Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai|
||Table of Contents|
Last modified 05/08/20
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