Tuesday, January 24, 2006
This weekend, Mr. Hippo and I went up to Ottawa to see friends of mine. Although we arrived to green grass and a balmy 8 degrees celsius, Mother Nature dumped 15 cm of snow overnight and we awoke to a winter wonderland. Not everyone was pleased. It seems the city of Ottawa had neglected to pick up the discard Christmas trees in a timely fashion. Frozen in the snow banks, many will likely not see the light until next spring.
Billed as the world's largest lake, this is home to the international boat show at Exhibition place. The weather was a chilling minus 10 degrees outside but the weather was just fine inside the indoor marina. Mr. Hippo's company provide the pumps that fill this hockey arena full of lake water to a depth of a mere four feet. The marina comes complete with its own boat house, the little yellow construct, and Henrys, a fish and chip restaurant. Lots of really grand boats to sit in and daydream about the summer...
Whenever I show my pictures from diving, I invariably get the question: "Can you eat that?" Not sure why food is always the first thing that comes to mind but perhaps it stems back to the most basic of human needs. However, this critter won't really provide too palatable a meal as the Regal Slipper Lobster is no really bigger than a mouthful.
The "Naked Lady" is a sailboat has an interesting history. Its owner set the boat on fire believing that there were little green men on it. The Coast Guard rescued her by the boat was literally toast. And yes, she happened to be in her birthday suit when the coast guard made their rescue. Today, beneath the belly of the Naked Lady reside two nurse sharks.
The mantas themselves have become quite famous. This is Lefty, because of her broken left cephalic fin which impairs her feeding. She is certainly smart enough to realize where to find the best meals on the island and is seen quite often on the night dives. She was featured in Jacques Cousteau's movies and not surprisingly one of the most recognized mantas (in the scuba world anyway).
I could not be more blown away by a single dive than this one. A night dive off the big island of Hawaiian where these graceful creatures arrive out of the cover of darkness and glide above the heads of divers. A small squadron of mantas come almost every night to the same stop. Sometimes there are none but up to eight may be spotted each night. Drawn by the plankton which are attracted to the light that the diver companies place in the water, the fish and the manta rays performed an underwater ballet to an enthralled and memerized audience of divers. The best dive I have ever done!
Wow, who would think I would need a heavy parka on the big island of Hawaii. However, at 4200m above sea level, it gets pretty cold. There are warning signs about falling ice off some of the observatories. The summit of Mauna Kea houses the world largest observatories for infrared, optical and submillimeter astronomy. During my stay, the W.M. Keck observatory announced the presence of a moon "Gabriele" about the 10th planet "Xena". The summit on the left of the picture is Pu'u Poliahu, home of the mountain goddess who not suprisingly fights with Pele, the fire goddess...hence the heated eruptions and subsequent cooling down periods that have shaped the history of Big Island.
This is Punalu'u, one of the black sand beaches on the big island of Hawaii. Home of Kaulia, the mystical turtle god who resides here. Both the green turtle and sometimes the rarer hawkbill turtle are spotted on these shores. As the ocean breeze swept the palms, this lone turtle enjoyed a nap while the tourists gawked.
The offering to the Goddess Pele are made at many sites in Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Her domain is fire and her home is in Kilauea Caldera. Legend has it that she had a bad temper and liked to destroy things. The gifts are attempts to appease her. A bit of a two edged sword. The lava may destroy much of the land but is also the source of Hawaii rich soil.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Compare the two following pictures: Both are called Spanish Dancers. So aptly named, eh? The former was taked at a tapas bar called Embrujo Flamenco and the later in the waters of the Red Sea near Hurghada. Although my friends, mother and sister keep asking, you can't eat this gorgeous nudibranch.