A change of scenery, critters, and cross training

Recently, I got a bit of a different view from the back of a tandem than what I’m used to:

my viewHey! That’s not western Nebraska!

Nosireebob! That there’s the eastern coast of the island of Kauai, in Hawaii.

Bugman and I traveled to Hawaii with his parents, Ma and Pa Bug, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Pa Bug helps Ma Bug with her morning cup of coffee.

Pa Bug helps Ma Bug with her morning cup o’ joe.

While we were on Kauai, Bugman and I rented a Trek tandem from Coconut Coasters and cycled up and down the couple of miles of Ke Ala Hele Makalae (“The Path That Goes Along the Coast”).

There is arguably no better place to eat a box of Girl Scout cookies after an invigorating tandem ride than a Hawaiian seaside cliff.

There is arguably no better place to eat a box of Girl Scout cookies after an invigorating tandem ride than a Hawaiian seaside cliff.

At one point while cycling along, I made Bugman stop and do an about-face.

“That woman was carrying signs!” I said.

We’d gotten a voicemail from Pa Bug a bit earlier – there was ilio holo i ka uaua (Hawaiian monk seal) on the beach near the hotel, and some volunteers had cordoned off the area.

Ma and Pa Bug's shot of a Hawaiian monk seal. What a cute face!

Ma and Pa Bug’s shot of a Hawaiian monk seal. What a cute face!

Sure enough, there was a seal on the rocks down below us, near where a volunteer was planting a “do not approach the seal” sign near a piece of bleached driftwood.

Can you see the seal? Hint: a wet seal is shinier than porous volcanic rock.

Can you see the seal? Hint: a wet seal is shinier than porous volcanic rock. Another hint: look bottom center.

Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered, with only about 1,100 individuals left. One of the threats to their survival is human interference – specifically, bothering seals that have come ashore to rest. Volunteers patrol the cost and respond to tips from a hotline, ready to set up signage and barriers to keep the tourist paparazzi at a safe distance when the seals beach themselves.

The woman volunteer told us that the seal was a young female (as we learned from signage later, she was born May 29, 2014), and that her mother was one of the seals that was currently beached to the south, near where we were staying.

We continued down the path to the beach behind our hotel, and, happily, the seals were still there! (Some seals, anyway. These might not have been the same two seals that were on the beach when Ma and Pa Bug were there.)

A seal patrol volunteer speaks to tourists. From the volunteers at the site, we learned that the momma seal was about 15 years old. The younger seal, about 5 years old, was a male and unknown to the volunteers. Young seals pupped in the area are tagged after they are weaned, so they can be identified and tracked.

A seal patrol volunteer speaks to tourists. From the volunteers at the site, we learned that the momma seal was about 15 years old. The younger seal, about 5 years old, was a male and unknown to the volunteers. Young seals pupped in the area are tagged after they are weaned, so they can be identified and tracked.

The "do not approach the seals" signage. The two lumps on the beach in the distance are the seals.

The “do not approach the seals” signage. The lump on the beach in the distance is the momma seal.

Ho hum, basking in the warm sun . . . The signage posted at the site said this female was the "most heavily scarred seal on Kaua'i." The injuries were caused by ropes, boat propellers, and sharks. Apparently dogs are a pretty big threat to beached seals, too. (Keep 'em leashed on the beach, friends!!)

Ho hum, basking in the warm sun . . .
The signage posted at the site said this female was the “most heavily scarred seal on Kaua’i.” Her injuries were caused by ropes, boat propellers, and sharks. Apparently dogs are a pretty big threat to beached seals, too. (Keep ’em leashed on the beach, friends!)

Whaddaya lookin' at?

Whaddaya lookin’ at? (Photo by Bugman)

The young male got restless and hauled himself back into the surf, at one point making a rude raspberry-type vocalization as he swam.

seal 4seal 5seal 6seal 7

While Bugman was photographing, the young male seal got restless and hauled himself into the water. Bugman kept a close eye on it as it swam behind him. The seal ducked and rolled in the surf at water's edge, and at one point, made a rude sort of raspberry sound.

Bugman kept a close eye on the seal as it swam behind him, ducking and rolling in the surf at water’s edge.

Swimmer seal. (Photo by Bugman)

Swimmer seal. (Photo by Bugman)

Nose itch!

Back to momma seal: nose itch!

That’s about it on the biking and the seals, but I have more to share. Continued in Part 2 . . .

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

One thought on “A change of scenery, critters, and cross training

  1. Pingback: A change of scenery, critters, and cross training, Part 2 | Wyobraska Tandem

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