Thursday, April 28, 2011

Okinawa Adventures - Day 3 Sea Turtles at Ama Beach

Day 3 started early with us waking up by 7am to catch the Zamami Queen III to the Zamami Islands from the main port of Naha. Our previous boat experience from Port Douglas to the Great Barrier Reef had us concerned with sea sickness but it was a fairly smooth ride and was helped with some pills. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the cruiser but it was very comfortable. 

We arrived at the Zamami Island wharf prepared to take on the world. What we didn't expect was to be met immediately by crystal blue waters that it brought tears to our eyes. 

Can you imagine our faces when we saw this?

We were so eager to get going but first had to find our accommodation for the night. The weather was also perfect considering the fact that it rained all day the day before. This town had a population of 600 people so it wasn't too hard to find it. It was directly opposite a dive store and a half convenience store half souvenir store. It wasn't anything fancy but we couldn't expect more. The owner of our accommodation was nice enough to drive us around and gave us some local knowledge of the best places to snorkel. Our first stop was a Ama Beach renowned for it's local inhabitants, the sea turtle. Luckily for us, it was high tide which meant they would be feeding. The accommodation owner left us on our own to explore by ourselves and offered to take us to another beach when we were ready. So nice of her! This beach also only had 4 people (including us) so it was our own little private beach.

From the shore

Crystal Clear Waters..

I've added a map below if you ever have the chance to visit Ama Beach..

By this stage, we were itching to get in. The shock of the water left me breathless but the neroprene wetsuit top warmed the water up quickly and kept me nice and cosy. Now it was time to find those turtles.... the first one popped up within a few minutes and it was quite small and it was intimidated by us. It didn't really swim away like it's life depended on it but it just went the other direction. You can see my partner tailgating the little one.. 

Get back here!

With the water being crystal clear, there was really nothing else to see except for some fish here and there. It was evident that coral existed here but have been eroded away due to unknown reasons. And then out of nowhere, out came this monster.. I believe it was a bit over a metre in length..

Cowabunga dude

My left side is better
 Should I or shouldn't I?

Don't leave me!

Going our separate ways..

This turtle was certainly not intimidated by us and why should it when it's not even scared of sharks or whales. It had a sense of calm and it was just swimming along patiently and letting us enjoy the experience. What a nice turtle!

I must admit I did not have any expectations of meeting wild turtles and this was truly a significant milestone of my snorkeling life/experience. What else could I possibly want?! We'll see :)

After this session, we took a leisurely stroll back to town which took about 20 minutes. I was still in awe over the "swimming with sea turtles" experience that I took a breather on the middle of the road. I swear there were no cars to be seen or heard.

No cars to be seen.. ZzzZzzzZZzZ...

We even found wild lilies growing on the side of the road.

What's the market price??

Hungry as hell, we decided to head to a local restaurant to get some grub before heading to our next snorkeling destination. I had the tuna carpacio on rice which apparently was caught locally. It was so fresh and tasty! Basically all the ingredients were grown locally and it just felt so so healthy and fresh. I absolutely devoured this meal.

A meal fit for a king

We were ready for round 2 after lunch but that post would have to be another time! I hope to post it soon!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dry apnea

I was fooling around with iPhone applications and came across iApnea. I gave it a go and reached 4:12 even without any practice/training.

I'm looking forward to reaching 5 minutes!

Okinawa Adventures - Day 1 & 2

Been too long since my last underwater post but it seems to have exited from the dry spell with a bang to Okinawa. As you may have read/heard, Okinawa has a highly diverse aquatic ecosystem that can compete with the most beautiful dive sites in the world. Of course it is probably not as sparse as the Great Barrier Reef but it certainly meets its match. 

We arrived quite late on the first day so we did not see any underwater action. The weather was also not so accommodating and it looked as though the next few days were not promising either. Our fingers were kept cross!

Our first destination was to Churaumi Aquarium up north but since we arrived late, it would be our first tourist destination the next day. On the way up north, we took the scenic route and stopped by Sesoko Island which is renowned for it's sunset. It is also a popular destination for beginner snorkelers or children at a beach located west of the island. We arrived just in time for sunset as you can see from the pictures below. 

Postcard picture

Simply breath taking

What makes this site so calm is the coral/rocks that protects the shore. However, it was evident that this beach experienced coral bleaching due to the change in climate over the years. Even though we did not test the waters (except for our feet) the overall experience of this beach was exhilirating. The picture of the water below just emphasises the cleanliness and the clarity of the water we encountered.
Only knee deep but you can only imagine how clean it was

 My partner daring to be brave

You can also see the rock formations to what I believe were coral that shifted above ground due to earth crust displacement. Several small caves were discovered except they were pitch black and only for those brave enough like my partner (above). I don't think these small caves led to anywhere but I am sure it would be entertaining for anyone who dares to enter..  

Day 2 unfortunately was a wet day which ruined our plans to have an afternoon snorkel at the famous Maeda Blue Cave. But this was not going to ruin our day! We arrived at the aquarium at 9am and scoured through the wonderous maze of aquatic tanks. We were met with awe when we finally reached the tank that supported 4 whale sharks. 

The largest whale shark inhabiting this tank

These whale sharks were accompanied by manta rays, tuna (blue fin and yellow fin), giant trevally, and numerous other types of fish. Below is a closer view of the whale shark feeding on krill.

Big feeders! They even get vitamin tablets!

 View of the tank from the top

Apart from these sensational creatures, an external section of the aquarium had a few manatees as well as sea turtles. The sea turtles had their own little private beach (artificial) and it was detrimental for breeding purposes. They had about 15-20 odd turtles in the tank/pool and I was able to get a pretty good shot of one of them below:

Say cheese! 


The manatee feels like a seal mixed together with an elephant and whacked with a platypus tail. Was quite strange to see a tail/fin like that. I was expecting to see bi-fins like the dugong. These majestic creatures were entertaining to watch but I couldn't help but feel sorry for them as they were stuck in this boring and lifeless pool. I am sure the conservationists know what they are doing:) 

The next 2 days were spent on Zamami Island and Aka Island. I will have to wait another day to write a post as there is just so much to write about! 

Keep you posted!

Till then...