Swimming with the Sea Turtles

I’ve been going to Hawaii just about every year since I was a boy, and I have a comfort with the ocean, my old friend, one that I think about everyday.  The ocean inspires me, through art, through activism, music and much more.  My children are now old enough to appreciate the power and beauty and equally miss the warm waters when we leave.  As much as I love living in Oregon, the ocean water here is frigid, and unless you wear a wetsuit (of at least 4mm) you are freezing cold, very fast.

A few years back, just as I was starting Planet Protect Sportswear, my wife and I were snorkeling around Black Rock on Maui.  Its not suggested that you swim all the way around the outcropping, the current is strong, but the water deep and clear.  We had no problem swimming with the current, it was on the way back that was a challenge for good swimmers like us.  Adventure is always the lure!

Half way back, we were huffing pretty good, when we took a break.  Treading water and pushing against the current, we were able to conserve some energy and catch our breath, when the water right next to us broke and an enormous shell emerged from the depth.  It was an enormous Green Sea Turtle, coming up to get its breath.  She startled us for a second, but we just remained calm, only about a  foot away, her strong head turned and her eyes bore right into mine.  I’ve never been this close, and its unlawful to swim with turtles and bother them, but here we were enjoying each others company. 

I said hello, as did my wife, I think she called her baby.  For several minutes we floated together in the current, the warmth of the May sun caressed our heads.  The colors of her shell were startling, hues of dark green, browns, flecks of black, a true rainbow of color.TurtleW09MAIN

She drifted below the surface again, and my wife and I donned our masks and watched her drift toward the sea floor rocks, 40 feet below us, once down on the bottom, her natural camouflage hid her well.  My wife and I looked at each other and were touched by this communion.

Shortly there after, I had my good friend Brian design a T-shirt paying tribute to that moment.  Some people wonder why I am so adament about protecting our oceans.  How could I not?  I hope you’ll share your experiences here as well…

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