Wow!  What an amazing Maui day!  I hiked down Sliding Sands trail over  to Halemau’u (Switchbacks) trail this morning with a wonderful group of people.  The hike was over 11 miles and breathtaking.  Since I was so sore afterwards I decided I needed a swim, so a friend and I went snorkeling at Ulua Beach in Wailea.  When I got in the water I had a feeling we would have a special encounter with some type of Ray.

Less than 15 minutes later I saw two large Manta Rays swimming in front of me.  Now that is special!  I looked up to get Arlene’s attention and by the time I looked under water again the largest ray had disappeared, but the remaining Manta Ray swam 4 or 5  laps around us before  heading off into the sea.  We were both thrilled, needless to say.  Then we saw a large school of Brown Surgeonfish.  These fish are pretty common but we’d never seen them in such a school.  At times about 5 or 6 of them would rush up towards the surface of the ocean and then rejoin the group.  Then another section of them would do the same thing.  And as they did this they would release a hazy mass into the water.  They must have been spawning.  It was quite the orgy.

A huge Green Sea Turtle swam beneath us after that, just taking her time.  Our presence did not seem to phase her in the least.  We watched the mating dance of the Brown Surgeonfish for a little while longer before swimming back towards shore.  Arlene was quite a distance behind me when I heard her yell for me.  She told me to swim back towards her, so I began my swim against the current and there swimming towards me was the same large Manta Ray.  She swam 3 circles around me, each one getting tighter and tighter and closer and closer.  I could have easily reached out and touched her before she swam out into the murky blue sea.  She was engaging us and we felt so blessed.

Just when I thought the excitement was over I spotted a Flatfish Flounder blending in with the sand.  These fish are hard to spot because they blend so well.  And as if I could expect another gift, just as I was about to put my feet in the sand the small head of the elusive  endemic Freckled Snake Eel was peeking out of the sand.  They live with most or all of their bodies in the sand so it’s impossible to determine their length, unless they decide to expose themselves.  This one did not and that’s o.k.  I felt lucky just to see it at all.

It’s just another exciting adventure in Maui!