Thursday, June 24, 2010

A few months away from 30, with 18 months on this island...

...and a water lover like me has never been snorkeling.


Not until today, anyway. Eddie, Elisa, and I packed up the gear and took off to Kouri Island so we could swim amongst dangerous creatures while breathing through tiny plastic tubes. And dangerous creatures, there were plenty. Didn't get any good shots of the cone snails we were molesting, but we were still getting the hang of our underwater camera, so...sue us.


Our day began with a drive up through Nago, down some side streets, around an obnoxiously slow Tonka truck that I wanted to run off the road for being a dumbass, and across this bridge.
The first thing I saw was a sea turtle, which was wicked cool, because I've never actually seen one out in the wild. Naturally, since turtles are rather slow-moving, I had plenty of time to get a good picture:
Then it was into the water, where we immediately saw the first of many, many, many sea cucumbers.
Seriously, the bastards were everywhere. Sea floor looked like a damned litter box.

Then we found this little thing that looked like the bastard love child of an eel and a seahorse. I adjusted the picture a little to make him easier to see; I'm really surprised we even got a picture, since Eddie was still learning how to use the underwater camera and this little critter was fast. Great fun to play with:
Then there were the sea urchins. Lots and lots of sea urchins. Here is one, mere seconds before my fingers (which can be seen entering the frame) poked and prodded it:
I was slightly less prone to poking and prodding some of the other sea urchins, though, owing mostly to the fact that they were bigger than my head and had really nasty-looking spines.
I hasten to add that those nasty-looking spines smart just a wee bit when they scrape one's leg while one is fighting the current in order to photograph a couple of poisonous fish that are hiding next to a sea urchin-covered pylon. Don't ask how I know this.

Anyway. Onward.

Then there were critters that, try as we might, we couldn't identify. Such as this creature that, at first glance, appears to be another urchin, except it's covered in suction cups, not spines.
No idea, but it's about the size of a basketball, as is the aforementioned suction-urchin-thingy:
Then there was this monstrosity, which is about 18 inches long. I'm not sure if it's a sea anemone with a big butt, or a sea cucumber with a bad haircut, but it was quite leathery and squishy. And the more we molest- er, inspected it, the more tentacles came out, so I'm guessing it wasn't too happy about us touching it.
Also, if you look closely at the bottom right of the creature, you will see a little fish. We must have seen a hundred of those today, ranging anywhere from 1-6" in length, and they were speedy little suckers.

Not every critter was difficult to identify, though. Even the densest among us had no trouble figuring out what this was:
The starfish were huge, too...
This is Eddie with a starfish on his head.
Don't ask.

On to deeper water, where we found more giant sea urchins. If you look closely at the lower right of the rock, you will see a lionfish butt, which we didn't even notice until we got home and looked at the pictures.
We did, however, notice this lionfish, who was hunkered down by a cable beside one of the bridge pylons, along with two puffer fish:
Now, considering I've always wanted to see a lionfish in the wild, and I think puffer fish are the cutest thing ever, seeing these three together nearly made me go "SQUEEE!" I didn't, however, as that would have resulted in spitting out my snorkel. Again.

Another shot of the lionfish, this time with its spines up:
Under normal circumstances, I'd have held my breath and gone all the way to the bottom to actually get a closer look and possibly annoy this highly poisonous creature, but there was a very strong current, the pylon was covered with very large, menacing sea urchins, and I'd already gotten too close to one of them. So, this little guy got to live another day without me messing with it.

We saw a couple more puffer fish, and managed one last shot of this guy before the camera died:
Pity I didn't get a picture when I startled him enough to make him almost puff. Wasn't terribly impressive - slightly bloated with a couple of spines sticking up - but it was a start. And it was funny as hell, which made me laugh. And spit out my snorkel. Again.

Once we'd finished goofing off in the water for about 3 hours, we returned to the shore to dry off and bask in the sun. Well, okay, it was overcast, so it was more like Seattle-style sunshine. When we saw this coming toward us, though, we decided to pack it up and call it a day:
Also, even though it was overcast, it's very easy to get sunburned anyway, especially in the water. Being the pasty white redhead that I am, one typically prone to getting sunburned in the dark, I have to brag that I made it through today with nary an inch of charred skin.

My husband, however, wasn't so lucky:
Now, you'll notice the Cthulhu-shaped patch of unmarred skin on his person. This was a result of using spray-on sunscreen, but not bothering to have someone else spray it on for him. To bypass such complex matters, I simply wore a T-shirt.

Anyway, there you have it. Photos from my first glorious foray into the world of snorkeling, and I fully intend to make up for lost time by doing a ventilated faceplant into the warm, clear waters of Okinawa as often as humanly possible. Expect to see numerous photos in the near future of underwater creatures, plants, and sunburns.

And now I am going to go see if I can fry an egg on my husband's shoulder...


  1. Brilliant photographs.

    You crack me up with this need you have to poke dangerous/poisonous/bad-tempered sea creatures.

    Eddie's back looks so painful! Let us know how the egg experiment goes.

  2. Wow. What amazing photos. The sea turtle almost doesn't look real!

    Great blog!