Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy Green Sea Turtle of Hawaii
Great Birthday Deal of Espionage Part II

Continued from the post: Happy Bottlenose Dolphins of Hawaii - Great Birthday Deal of Espionage Part I.

It was getting late, and now it's time to accomplish our mission. Actually I was getting a bit nervous. I knew I wasn't gonna be a good spy as I pretty much suck at lying. Even if this mission was out of good cause, I felt guilty to pretend to be someone that I was not. I thought my wife was handling this situation much better, so I let my wife speak most of the time.

There were some minor happenings throughout the mission, but over all everything went well as we planned. The restaurant had great service and atmosphere at their prime location. We always wanted to check out this famous restaurant, but their price and not-so-good reputation held us back for all these years.

Guess what. We were right. The food there wasn't so good... lobsters tasted like dirt/mud, signature pork chop and fillet mignon were hard and dry, cocktail drinks were too thin, and we saw the tiniest piece of foie gra we have ever seen on the fillet mignon, etc. etc... Over all tastes of every dish were not quite right, in other words, mostly under seasoned. If you consider their outrageous price, you would feel even much worth when paying. Lucky for us, we didn't have to pay for it. It was $250. Oh my..!?

Our mission was accomplished. Despite the bad tasting food and a bit of guilty feelings of being spies, we had great time, having wines & beers, and laughing at the thumbnail size foie gra under romantic Hawaiian torches at the nicest table over looking Pacific Ocean.

Next morning we were notified by our contact that the restaurant stuff didn't do any wrong doing to us. We were honestly disappointed at the outcome but the hotel manager liked us and promised to use us again! So that's all great!

We spent the rest of the day swimming, drinking and shopping. It turned out to be a perfect short vacation to enjoy and to get rejuvenated.

At the end of the day, we decided to stroll the famous beach at Anaehoomalu Bay aka A-Bay. Ever since the Kilauea erupted more actively, the volcanic gas aka vog has been filling the skies of most of the Big Island. Today was one of those typical "voggy" days.

The vog was pretty heavy, but the sunset looked better here than Kona where we live. The vog in Kona and South West Hawaii has been horribly bad and much worth than in Kohala and North West Hawaii.

As we strolled on the beach, we found some green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, basking at sunset.

All sea turtles are listed as endangered species. The green sea turtle is, of course, one of such species that we need to protect from extinction.

green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, basking on the beach at sunset, Anaehoomalu Bay, Waikoloa, Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

However, contrary to the worldwide status of this species, Hawaii's green sea turtles are doing very well for some reason. If you've ever been to Hawaii, you know where to find them. They are practically everywhere.

This large adult turtle was still so sleepy that she wasn't bothered by the incoming tidal waves crashing on her butt. With moody, voggy sunset in the background... I was able to capture a peaceful, beautiful moment of this happy turtle's life in Hawaii.

Happy Bottlenose Dolphins of Hawaii
Great Birthday Deal of Espionage Part I

My wife and I were asked to infiltrate and survey one of their signature restaurants at the world-famous XXXXXX Hotel, which might have been ripping off hotel guests, particularly non-English speaking Japanese tourists. If that's true, we agreed to help the internal investigation by pretending a dumb Japanese couple from Japan who didn't speak English at all.

I'm not gonna tell you all about it in detail because it's secret, but I tell you that we had a great deal and the day was actually my birthday as my lovely wife arranged that way, so we could stay in a nice resort for free. Smart woman ;-)

In exchange of being spies, all of our expense were paid including three very expensive resort meals & snacks, internet connections, a nice room, valet parking, plus petty cash for tipping, etc. Whole thing might have cost them little under $1,000. Wow! That's pretty expensive for one night stay for two, right? What a deal!

After we arrived at the hotel, we had a secret briefing with the hotel manager at a Chinese restaurant, and were given some cash to pay for it. The mission was a piece of cake and dim-sum, beer and services were all good so far!

We had some time to kill until the next fatty meal, so we decided to go swimming a bit to investigate their pools as well as to consume extra beer calories. On the way to the pool, we swung by the famous the dolphin pen, where about 10 common bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, were trained spending the day interacting with humans.

The common bottlenose dolphin is the most well-known species of the dolphin family, Delphinidae. Those dolphins are very common among marine parks and aquariums around the world because they are known to do very well in captivity.

common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, jumping with Hula hoop, Hawaii, USA, captive

Unlike scarred up wild common bottlenose dolphins regularly seen around Hawaii, these captive dolphins looked strikingly different. They were so clean and beautiful as they have been meticulously cared in the enclosure by the stuff and some were even born there.

The wild Hawaiian common dolphins are much larger in size, and the color of their bodies are much darker, almost blackish, contrary to the light gray color of those captive dolphins. In addition, wild ones typically have many battle scars and rake marks.

common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, performing, Hawaii, USA, captive

The enclosure was somewhat small but it was much better than most of enclosures I've seen else where. The water was clean and crystal clear all the time with a natural lagoon beach setting.

Dolphins seemed happy there, too. That's very important to me as I believe that all mammals have and develop "feelings" just like us humans. Unlike other creatures like fish and invertebrates, mammals feel joy, happiness, sadness or pain.

As I have a privilege to deal with wild marine mammals such as dolphins & whales almost daily, I learned to sense their mood because I could only take pictures of them when they let me. In the wild, sometimes they are friendly and come closer to play with me, and other times they don't want to see me at all. I just have to meet them at the right time at the right place. Well.. that's not easy!

common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, treading water spyhop, Hawaii, USA, captive

Other than mammals such as sharks, fish and inverts are, to me, easier to take pictures of. Unlike mammals, their behaviors are rational and very much predictable based on their natural mechanism, genes, and not based on their feelings and emotions.

Anyway I can only hope those dolphins in captivities are well taken care of for the rest of their lives as these captive dolphins could never survive in the wild, and contribute to their honorable projects in a very positive way to impact our environment.

To be continued to: Happy Green Sea Turtle of Hawaii - Great Birthday Deal of Espionage Part II.