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A funny thing happened on the way to …!

Wednesday September 30, 2009

Being on an island means that to get anywhere involves a sea crossing. On our various excursions, these journeys by boat are definitely part of the fun.

For many guests, a ride in a fast boat is exciting in itself. Added to this is the ever changing always beautiful scenery. Sometimes, however, we are privileged to see creatures en route which are highlights in themselves and create lasting memories.

On a recent run back from Monuriki (Cast Away movie island), we spent half an hour with three big Humpback whales, and on today’s trip the boat was surrounded by a pod of Spinner dolphins.

Less pleasant, but equally fascinating, was the experience of two weeks ago. We were cruising around the outer, western, side of Monuriki when Captain Mala spotted an object floating in the distance. Thinking that it could be an upturned boat, we chose to investigate. In fact it was a dead whale (probably a humpback, although it was very decayed – the stench was indescribable.) In attendance were several sharks – it was difficult to identify them, but they were big!

We never see large oceanic sharks on our dives, but on several trips we have encountered big Hammerheads basking on the surface, as well as bizarrely coloured Leopard Sharks. Sightings of Hawksbill Turtles during boat trips are common, and recently the boat carrying the staff back to Yanuya Island encountered a huge and very rare Leatherback Turtle.

The lagoon of Yanuya Island (where we do our village visits) is full of life. When we are approaching the village beach, dozens of fish fling themselves out of the water, “Flying Fish” people think. We often sea Flying Fish, but these are Garfish, escaping the shadow of the “predatory”: boat. Amongst the seagrass in the lagoon live Black and White Snake Eels; they are not poisonous and they are not snakes, but they do mimic the Banded Sea Krait (which is a snake). Very recently we found a Flying Gurnard. A very demure, insignificant looking fish, until it opens its huge wings (pectoral fins), which are vividly leopard spotted.

So enjoy the sun, scenery and the boat trip, and of course the tour of Monuriki and Yanuya Village…but keep your eyes open as you never know what treasures the sea will reveal.

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Illustration of Red tooth triggerfish