This is the third in the series that started with Maui Time (pictures) and then followed by Maui Time (pictures) - 2 .
Today was another great day for a noon visit to the reef. My wife and I and a friend had a nice swim and checked in on the frog fish. I kept mostly to the outside hoping to see some larger animals like the eagle rays or manta ray or baracuda. There has also been a small tiger shark seen recently and the spinner dolphins have been coming in to the reef but I have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.
We finished our swim and were drying off and getting warm on the beach. We had just joked about being ready in case the spinners showed up and danged if I didn't see some out side and to the south and seeming to be headed our way! I told the ladies I knew I was getting suckered out once again but what the heck. I grabbed the gear and went down to the water and off and out I swam. I hadn't but made a few strokes out when I heard them underwater and so I just went for it. I got out past the reef's edge in about 35' of water and stuck my head up for a check on the surface. I saw some splashing and fins headed my way. Cool!
I ended up surrounded and not knowing where to look and focus.
I think this was the closest I have had some get to me and I might have been able to make hand contact if I had tried. I noticed a few of them were swimming and in physical contact with others. There was also some serious play among a few.
I don't think I could ever get tired of watching these guys swim in sync and play. Ultimately, they drew me south of the reef as they headed back south and then they were gone. I was totally stoked and invigorated by the encounter and took my time swimming back in. What a great way to end the day at the beach!! As I was swimming in, I saw a coral outcropping surrounded by the sand field and realized there was a green sea turtle resting on the bottom next to it. As I got closer, I could see that it was a really clean and healthy looking turtle and I decided to dive down for a shot. Halfway down, I think I got a lump in my throat. This turtle has a marking on its head I haven't seen for a couple years. For you old timers who have followed my ramblings, this turtle was none other than Friendly!!
I dove down a few times. She was probably in 25' of water. I would get close and then wave her up like I used to when she lived in a cave in the shallows. After one dive down and after some other swimmers had left, I saw her move her flippers and get out from under the ledge. I knew she was going to surface and I wondered if she would still be cool with me close by.
She seemed quite at ease and I took the camera housing from around my neck and held it out in front of me and let myself drift in towards her.
She ended up bracing herself away from me with her left front flipper on my right shoulder.
I was able to get a self portrait of me with my favorite turtle friend:
We ended up hip to hip and slowly spun away from each other. I then circled around to face her again and just watched her as she took a couple more breaths. She dove back down to the bottom and I headed in to shore. There might have been some excess saline in my eye and not from the ocean. I have had some incredible coincidences out there and sometimes wonder......