Archives for June, 2011

The Green Sea Turtle is a wonderful, graceful creature.  They capture the imagination especially when seen gracefully swimming underwater or as young hatch-lings racing for the relative safety of the sea.

Green Sea Turtle, (Steven Smeltzer)

Green Sea Turtle, Grand Cayman

The Green Sea Turtle inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world.  It is a large turtle and may grow to over 300 kg (700 pounds).  These marvelous creatures can also live for up to 80 years.

The Green Sea Turtle is named for the greenish color of its skin. Its shell can be a dull brown to an olive green tint depending upon its habitat.  There are generally though to be two types of green turtles including the Atlantic green sea turtle, normally found off the shores of Europe and North America, and the Eastern Pacific green sea turtle, which has been found in coastal waters from Alaska to Chile.

Green Sea Turtle, (Steven Smeltzer)

Green Sea Turtle,

Unlike most sea turtles, adult green sea turtles are herbivorous, feeding on sea grasses and algae. Juvenile green turtles, however, will also eat invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish, and sponges.

Green Sea turtles have lengthy migrations from feeding sites to their individual nesting grounds, normally on sandy beaches. Mating typically occurs every two to four years in shallow waters close to the shore. To create a  nest, females leave the sea and choose an area, often on the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs. They dig a pit in the sand with their flippers.  The nest pit may contain as many as 200 eggs.  After the eggs are placed into the pit it is covered with sand and the turtle returns to the sea.  It takes approximately two months for the eggs to hatch.  Immediately after hatching is the most dangerous time of a green turtle’s life.  The short but difficult journey from the nest to the nest to sea requires the young turtles to evade multiple predators, including crabs and flocks of gulls.

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Wall dives.  There are no other dives like them.  The opportunity to float in “space” as you look away from the reef into the deep blue of the ocean is amazing.  In Grand Cayman you can look down on the wall on the north dive sites and realize it is about 4,000 ft to the bottom.

Wall Dives (Steven W Smeltzer)

West Wall, Scuba Diving, Grand Cayman

Great wall dives surround Grand Cayman.  There is often 100+ feet visibility along with great corals and a wide variety of marine life especially on the North/East end.
There are a number of great wall dives around the world, but I must admit I am partial to the Cayman Islands.  You can find other very good wall dives in Honduras, Canada, Palau and Mexico, but to me there is no comparison to the Cayman Islands.  The visibility, the ease of access, the variety of marine life, the vibrant corals all set Grand Cayman apart from other wall dive opportunities.  The North Wall is mecca for wall divers, with almost 50 different dive sites, from the legendary Babylon, to  Andes Wall, to Eagle Ray Pass to many, many others.  These dive sites often have visibility of over 200 feet, amazing corals, sharks, rays and much more.

The north end of Grand Cayman can be a little rough, but the dive sites are well worth the trip.

There are a number of great dive operators on the island.  I would check out Red Sail sports. They have a good diver operation and we have diving with them for over 15 years. Don’t forget to mention that you I sent you their way.

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The Kohala or Humpback whale faithfully returns to Hawaii each year to give birth to their young.  Although the Humpback whales begin arriving in Hawaii in December and don’t all leave until May or even June, February to April are the best times to experience the whales.  If you  stay in Ka’anapali in Maui you can watch them through out the day from the beach.  Better yet take a Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Hawaii, whales, Breach, corals reef, coral reefs (Steven Smeltzer)whale watching cruise.  Gemini Charters operates off Kaanapali beach and will pick you up at the Westin Maui Resort in the morning and the afternoon from December to April or you can drive into Lahaina where you can take a whale watching tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation.

Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Both operators offer great charters with the main difference being the Gemini boat is a catamaran and I believe is a bit more comfortable.  The Pacific Whale Foundation has a large two deck boat and is very comfortable, but not quite the same feel as the catamaran.  But either way you will definitely enjoy your tour.

Humpback whales migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the north pole to warmer winter breeding waters in Hawaii and other areas closer to the Equator. Mothers and their young swim close together, often touching one another with their flippers with what appear to be gestures of affection. Female Humpback’s nurse their calves for almost a year, though it takes far longer than that for a Humpback whale to reach full adulthood. Calves do not stop growing until they are ten years old.

Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world’s oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning. It is most likely that humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract potential mates.

Humpback Whale Song Maui

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Zurich, Switzerland (Steven W Smeltzer)

Morning Crew Rows Across Lake Zurich Switzerland (Steven Smeltzer)

The air cool and crisp, the water on the lake calm as the city begins to stir and the sun starts to rise over the mountains.  Time for a great cup of coffee.

The city is culturally vibrant, efficiently run and attractively set at the meeting of river and lake.  Zurich is regularly recognized as one of the world’s most livable cities. Zurich, long known as a savvy, hard-working financial center and Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest metropolis has emerged in the 21st century as one of central Europe’s hippest destinations.  Zurich has an artsy, post-industrial edge that’s epitomized in its exuberant summer Street Parade.

Much of the ancient center, with its winding lanes and tall church steeples, has been kept lovingly intact. Yet Zurich has also wholeheartedly embraced contemporary trends, with the conversion of old factories into cultural centers and creative new living spaces. Nowhere is that clearer than in Zurich-West, the epicenter of the city’s nightlife.

I love the old city and the lake area near the city center.  Walking by Grossmünster or Fraumünster, stepping into the many shops along the narrow streets, or stopping for coffee or a light lunch in an outdoor cafe. The old world charm and vibrancy of the city are readily visible.  Strolling along the lake or walking  through the narrow streets of the old city of Zurich allows you to go back in time and imagine what the city was like hundreds of years ago.  I especially like getting up early and walking to the lake and seeing the sun rise.  It is especially peaceful and serine.  After a nice stroll there are a number of wonderful coffee shops close to the lake and in the old city where you can relax, read the morning paper and appreciate the wonderful atmosphere that is Zurich.

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