The water has been amazing the last couple of weeks, I've been getting in nearly every day for a couple of hours. I have three specific shots I'm looking for. Not quite there yet, but I do want to share some images I've been getting!
As always, click the image to see it on the website! All of these images (except the last one) are available, clicking on the image will take you to them on the website.
One of my very favorite places to get in the water is at Mala Ramp in Lahaina. The turtles have been there in force lately, with over 25 hanging out! This one had a particularly clean shell and I was really happy to catch this image as it headed back down to the bottom after a couple of breaths.
This one is from my other favorite spot for turtles, Chang's Beach on the south side. There is a cleaning station here that is great for viewing and shooting, as I can get really low into the reef and shoot upwards like this. There are about a dozen living on this small section of reef and they are we've gotten pretty comfortable with one another. Three honu in particular here will come right to me when they come up for a breath and will stay there with me longer than usual. Have to love it!
This is my favorite honu at Chang's. It's too young to determine whether it's a boy or a girl, but I've taken to calling him(?) Mr. Sweetface, as he's got a vertical split in his beak that is pretty endearing. He also comes VERY close to me, to the point that I have to pay close attention. Last week I brought my daughter Luci with me and was laying flat on the surface shooting a different turtle when I noticed her pointing frantically underneath me. I looked down and was startled to find Mr. Sweetface hovering in place less than a foot under my belly, craning his neck and looking at me expectantly. I had to carefully move sideways and away to avoid any contact, but couldn't help but laugh through my snorkel.
Spot the Landing
Last Friday was the calmest conditions I've seen in a LONG time. Perfect time to get my mom in the water, who's had two spinal surgeries recently and hasn't snorkeled in a couple of years. Glassy conditions, lots of honu and an easy walk in entry at Chang's made for a very happy mother!
Yet another from Chang's over these past couple of weeks. This is a good indicator of their comfort level with me, casually staying on the cleaning station even when I come up close from underneath, something they probably don't experience all that often. It's important to reiterate that I've spent a lot of time with these turtles and watch their behavior carefully when I'm shooting (and in between getting shots). If they are at all bothered by my presence, I give them plenty of space and let them come to me on their own terms. I've never touched a turtle (even the entangled one I rescued a few years back) and think it's important to talk about how these encounters happen responsibly and with the wildlife in mind. That goes for honu, whales, dolphins, everything. Wildlife first, always.
This one's not really a seller, but the story is great so I thought I'd share. One of the days I visited Mala Ramp, I came across a rather large Hawksbill. They are critically endangered and it's only the second one I've ever seen in the water. I sent a couple of images over to the team at Hawaiian Hawksbills and it turns out they know 'Pueo' well! What an appropriate name! She's been tracked since 2005 and if you'd like to read about her journey back and forth between west and south Maui, read HERE and HERE. I think it's fascinating to read about all these turtles.
If you'd like to visit either of these spots on your next visit, here's the scoop:
Chang's: There are two parking lots at the M*kena Surf condos with good access to this spot. I prefer to park at the more southern of the two lots, then enter the water and go around the rocks to the right of that beach. Explore the coral there and you'll find a cleaning station and lots of turtles feeding among the rocks close to shore. We've also enjoyed eagle rays and manta rays here from time to time. Eagle Rays are best found during the summer, and we have good luck with Mantas within a few days of the full moon in the mornings.
Mala Ramp: You'll find parking right near the ramp off Front St in Lahaina, and you've got two options for getting in and out of the water. You can go off the beach and swim along the left side of the ramp, but this can be very shallow and tends to freak people out. We prefer to walk along the large rock wall along the right side of the ramp and find an easy rock at the end to sit on and slide into the water. Don't let the more challenging entry put you off here, it's very much worth it. If it's been raining I'd skip this one however, it's very prone to poor clarity and not worth it. Once you're in the water, follow the ramp out and keep going out, following the underwater rubble. It's the most unique spot on Maui and the wildlife is excellent. Tons of turtles, lots of reef fish and interesting structure. There are also a few very harmless white tip reef sharks that live here, you may see them sleeping on the bottom or lazily cruising around the piers. This is where I introduced my daughter to sharks, no bravery required.
I've been thinking of putting together some guides for people to find things to do while visiting, let me know if you think that would be enjoyed!
Mahalo nui loa!
- Lyle at Pueo Gallery