Return to the Hana Uma Bay

But sadly, without Brooke Shields.

I used to love visiting Hana Uma Bay on Oahu. It was the best place to see the most varied fish within easy reach of Honolulu. OK, it was at least the most popular place.

It's broken up into three areas. The closest is where most people go, and is the one you can see in the bottom half of the picture. Safe and shallow.

And then for some reason the phone companies decided to blast two channels through the bay to allow undersea phone lines to leave the island. This resulted in powerful rip tides, so that only experienced swimmers are recommended in the outer Zone 2 (out to the spit in the picture) or Zone 3 (to the edge of the bay). Zone 3 is where I practiced exiting and entering the water in high-surf conditions and warm-water rescue, when with Blue-Water Marine Lab.

Entering the reserve you see a number of exhibits, such as a real (dead) sea turtle, invasive wild chickens, and strange maurading amphibious Jafo.

Sadly, once in the water, I noticed a profound difference from when I was last there 20 years ago. Zone 1, the most populated, is a barren wasteland. Where there were once constant fish and a mulitude of colours flitting within reach of your hands, now there is only an anemic remnant. The coral was dingy and covered with what looked like a brown fluffy mold. It was difficult to find any sign of fish through the countless shuffling feet.

It turn out that twenty years of tourism has taken it's toll. The coral has died out, and with it the fish. UH is currently doing a study to see what might be the effects on coral and the benthos if no humans are present- that's what the six meter diameter ring above is for. But for now, I had to swim out to Zone 2 before I could experience any of the rapture of the deep. There it was like it had been decades ago- deep 30' water, constant schools of fish in a rainbow of colours, and a powerful surf surge to remind us constantly of the power of the true ruler of this domain.


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