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Saturday, May 26th, 2001

We had hoped to go to Pearl Harbour today as a group, but according to the news, the lineups were crazy because of the openning of the movie Pearl Harbour. According to what I heard, the lineups were an hour and a half or two hours on THURSDAY, let alone the Saturday after the movie opening and two days before memorial day! We decided our time could be better spent elsewhere. Most of us already have tickets to the showing of "Pearl Harbour" at the local movie theater, so I guess we'll have to be satisfied with seeing the place getting blown up on a screen rather than seeing the actual thing.

Julia, Ashleigh, Shannon and I went in early today to help with tank cleaning.Considering how many people were signed up to be cleaning this morning, it was surprising how few of us were actually there to do it.
Hiapo dolphin leap
Hiapo does a straight jump. This pic is actually from Friday (click here for larger image)
The three of us (Shannon, Ashleigh, and I) were plenty to get the job done though, and it only took us an hour or so while Juilia helped to clean up the front windows and stuff like that. The tanks sometimes don't seem all that big when they're filled, but when you're standing inside one of them, you can see just how big they really are. The tank walls don't appear very dirty when the water is drained and the sides have dried, but after you run the brushes accross the walls a few times and hose it off, you can see the brownish algae wash right off the walls. I sure hope the dolphins appreciate all this hard work. They do act noticably different when they're in a fresh, clean tank.

Julia had rented a car again, and was planning on driving around the island to see the various attractions they hadn't seen yet. I was originally going to go with her, but it seemed there were already too many people going and I didn't particularly care if I went if there was someone else who really wanted to go. Geoff had left early to go diving with a dive shop that ships off from the marina beside the lab, so he was already occupied. In the end, Ashleigh, Julia, Sophie, and Emmanuelle ended up going in the car, leaving Shannon and I at the lab to fend for ourselves. Julia and Ashleigh took off after tank cleaning dispite what I had told them about the possibility of feeding the dolphins as a reward for helping with tank cleaning.

We had gone to the fish room after tank cleaning to help out with the AM fish prep if we could. Mike was in there slaving away, but insisted that he didn't need any help, so we went and sat around in the front lanai, discussing what we wanted to do with ourselves the rest of the day. I suggested that we try to go water skiing just for something to do. Shannon thought it a good idea, so we looked through some tourist magazines and found a place called Hawaii sports who did it over in an area called Hawaii'kai, in Koko marina center, about 45 minutes from the lab. Great! We called them and figured out how to get there and the price, and decided we'd probably do that in the afternoon. Right after that, Mike came by and asked us if we wanted to help feed the dolphins... Oh no Mike, why would we want to do that? OF COURSE WE'LL HELP!

Mike said he wanted to be with Hiapo, which left me with Akeakamai and Shannon with Phoenix. I was looking forward to working with Ake again after yesterday's awesome session, and today was bound to be even better considering how many more fish I'd be working with. As I've said before, on weekends, they only have a morning and an afternoon session, rather than two morning and two afternoon sessions like a regular lab day. As a result, on weekend sessions you have twice the fish to work with, and when you're working with Ake, this means working with a VERY happy dolphin (she definitely likes her fish). She was in an absolutely GREAT mood today! I only wish it wasn't tank cleaning day so I could ask for higher energy stuff, but because of the lower water, we were told not to ask for jumps and such. Oh well. I remembered most of the combos I had gone over yesterday, and all I had to do was combine them into swims or at station behaviours and that kept Ake interested. I couldn't believe how enthusiastic she was when I first asked her for a spiral swim. She leaped out of the water and spun around, nearly doing a speed swim while rotating and came back clicking and whistling so loud it hurt my ears! I gave her a bunch of fish, and asked for something else, which she did again in a tremendously enthusiastic style. This stayed consistant for the whole session.

Once, I waved my hands away from me above my head, as if telling Ake to move away from station. She looked at me to see if I was going to give her a behaviour, but I've seen people use this style when they want her to go off and do something herself, which is what I was trying to accomplish here.
Here's another shot of Akeakamai from Friday (click here for larger image)
She got the idea and ducked underwater very quickly, leaping from the surface and coming down with her tail in a full twisting jump! That was impressive considering the low water! Mike saw this (it was hard to miss) and asked me not to ask for any more jumps and such, but the truth was I hadn't! I told him that she did it by herself! I didn't expect her to do any kind of high energy behaviour, this is just what she ended up doing. A few times, I was talking with Shannon or Mike and Ake was sitting in front of me, but when she saw I wasn't going to send her off on something to do, she'd go off and do something herself, usually a high energy something like a spit twist jump or a similar move. Again, I got reemed out but there wasn't much I could do. She was just in too good a mood, and the biggest reason we're not supposed to ask for things like she was doing is so they don't feel obligated to do something they might not have an easy time doing in low water. Well, she obviously didn't have too much trouble considering I hadn't asked for it once! One thing she had trouble with was the rain command, once again. A few times I asked for a mermaid over at the scupper (or window, since the water was low) combined with a tail wave and a rain. She'd do the tail wave no problem, but she didn't spit water initially. She was quicker to correct it this time compared to last session however.

Akeakamai's creative side started showing through near the end of the session. One time, she left station (bad girl) to check on the gate where Mike was standing at the time, did a mermaid and a water spit by the window, then came twisting through the water towards me, slapping her pec fins and waving her tail, whistling, clicking, just about everything she could possibly do. She was showing off! I couldn't help but laugh out loud. It was SO CUTE. It's hard to know what to do in a situation like that, where your dolphin leaves station when she's not supposed to, but comes back doing so much to make up for it by being creative and enthusiastic. I wanted to give her a pile of fish, but I can't reinforce when she leaves station, especially towards the gate, even if she was doing one of the coolest things I've ever seen her do. She came back to station, and I just stood there, laughing. She stood there, clicking, waiting for a fish.

"Ok, what the heck was that Ake???!" I said, laughing my head off. "I want to give you some fish, but I can't when you go off from station like that!" I figured a good thing to do would be to ask for a real easy behaviour and then pile the fish on her for that, to show that yeah, I appreciate what you did before, but I won't give you anything until you do something when asked rather than taking off like that. She understood and had no problem doing something else. She kept doing some creative stuff after that too, adding in things when coming back to station and just being as incredibly cute as possible. Man I like working with her!

At this point, the water level in the other tank was up to the level of the channel and Mike had asked for help with the gate so we could move the dolphins over to the clean tank. To do this, we lifted the VERY heavy wooden gate out of the slot and moved it to the side to make the channel clear for the dolphins to slide over. Ake, Phoenix, and Hiapo had come over at this point since all the trainers had moved over there (Mike, Shannon and me). They took some convincing to slide over though. Shannon and Alisa went over to the back of the clean tank and made as much noise as they could with the fish buckets to help persuade the dolphins to come over. After what seemed like forever, Hiapo dashed over, closely followed by Pho and Ake. Once they were safely over and stationed with Alisa and Shannon, Mike and I lifted that big heavy gate back into place so we could drain the dirty tank for cleaning. Ake only had 7 fish left (I know 'cause I counted them before doing the gating), and Hiapo and Pho had close to the same, so Shannon and Alisa were ready for last three when we were ready.
Ake jump by tower
Another shot from Friday (click here for larger image)
I could have gone over there and did last three with Ake, but Shannon seemed to be enjoying herself with both dolphins so I let her finish off the fish with Ake and Phoenix. I'm very gratefull that Mike allowed us the chance to do what we did today. It was every bit as much fun as yesterday's session, or more!

Once we had washed up to get that icky fish smell of our hands, which never seems to come off completely, Shannon and I headed off to Ala Moana center to catch the bus to Hawaii'kai to go waterskiing. According to my schedule, the bus wasn't going to arrive for about an hour or so, so we walked around the mall for a while and looked through a few of the amazing stores that mall has. One store I could have spent the whole day in. It was some kind of a gadget store, that sold all kinds of neat electronic and mechanical trinkets, like wind up radios and flashlights, electric scooters, battery powered gyroscopes, all kinds of neat stuff. We ran out of time though and had to leave before I could decide on buying anything (which is probably not a bad thing).

Much of the bus ride was through the city, but the last half was quite scenic driving past all the beaches on the diamondhead side of the island and through some residential areas. It gave me a better idea of what the smaller parts of the island looked like. After a quick snack at McDonalds, we headed over to the little office of Hawaii sports and prepared ourselves for our trip. The office was situated right outside of a marina in some kind of an isolated, but relatively large inlet or bay of the ocean that seemed to be keeping relatively calm waters dispite how rough the ocean usually gets around here. Our boat driver seemed vaguely familiar somehow, and I found later on that he was one of the guys who took me parasailing last year when he was working for Aloha Parasail. Small world! He initially thought Shannon and I were married or something on our honeymoon, but we were quick to clear that one up. I don't think we ever actually told him what we were really doing in Hawaii.

I went first and totally made a fool of myself trying to get started on the ski they had given me. I'm actually a quite decent waterskiier on most days and had decided to do some single slaulom skiing dispite a chance of rough water. The ski they had given me was actually quite nice, probably a professional level HO waterski, but it was much narrower than the ski I have at home that I'm used to with a wider top section for easier starts. After about 2 attempts at starting, I got up but fell down again after trying to cut to the left. It just felt wierd. After a few more failed starts, I got up again and had a brief ski through some fairly rough water. As most people know, waterskiing through rough water, especially on a single ski, is very tiring and I was quick to lose my energy and wipe out. It still didn't feel right though. It was like the ski wasn't digging in and it was slipping too much. When I got in the boat, I told the driver to try speeding up next time in the hopes of correcting for this.

Shannon went next and only took a few times to get up.
Shannon and Me
Shannon and I had a great time waterskiing together (click here for larger image)
Apparently the last time she had been waterskiing was almost 10 years ago, but she was a natural. We went around the bay a few times, and she had a few wipeouts, but kept at it and seemed to have a great time. We were cheering her on in the boat the whole time.

After Shannon got back in the boat, I took another shot at it, and this time I did a lot better. The driver was driving a few miles per hour faster this time and I noticed it in the way the ski performed. I was able to actually cut side to side now, but the waves getting kicked up by the wind became a real problem and limited what I could do. I kept at it, dispite being completely drained physically by the rough water, and had a good 12 minute ski. One of the coolest things about skiing here is the colour and temperature of the water. It was almost warmer than a swimming pool, and was a VERY rich green, but I must admit the salt content was a bit of a pain. I had noticed when I was in the water just how much my eyes were stinging from this, and the taste of the water never really went away once you had swallowed some.

Shannon went after me a second time and had another good ski through the bay. She did even better this time, having a great time weaving in and out of the wake of the boat and dodging the bigger waves we were dragging her through (we weren't trying, honestly!). We were both so tired afterwards that we could barely lift ourselves out of the boat, but it was all worth it. Chalk that one up as one of the things I'd always wanted to do in Hawaii!

After the bus ride back, Shannon and I went our seperate ways while she went to go buy some new shoes and I went back to the lab to pick up my laptop and say hi to the dolphins. I didn't stick around long though, and decided to head home to meet up with everyone else and find out how their day had gone. A bunch of the participants had gone to some kind of Lu'aow (I can't remember how to spell it) that Julia had arranged. They all said it was quite interesting and was an enjoyable experience. They hadn't seen as much of the island as they had hoped to though, and had planned tomorrow as the day to do more exploring.

Geoff told me all about his dive, including a rather close encounter with a VERY large sea turtle in the wreck dive they did. Apparently, the turtles had settled into the sunken ship and made it their home, and were quite used to having divers come through and were relatively doscile and willing to be touched. Geoff said they felt a LOT like a dolphin does, sort of a leathery, rubbery feeling on their shell. That sure suprised me! He said both dives, the open water dive and the wreck dive, were both very good and he got to see everything he had wanted to see, including a small reef shark. More than anything he couldn't believe how clear the water was here, and how warm it was. The wetsuit he wore wasn't even needed really, but did help when swimming by coral to keep from getting cut (I noticed his arms were quite cut up where the shorty wetsuit didn't cover). He had a great time, and would do it again if he comes here again.

Nothing to do now but relax and watch a movie...

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