Turtle Reef Short (July 21 morning)

After a nice day of exploring Hilo and the tide pools on Wednesday, our goal for the day was to venture back up to the volcano in the afternoon for a hike and to watch the lava at sunset.  We decided to use the morning just to enjoy our house and explore the area.  We put on our bathing suits and packed the camera Turtle_reef_pools_1 and headed along the volcanic ledges to the east of the house where there is no development.  We had the shore to ourselves and climbed around in every nook and cranny discovering all sorts of sea life.  The most plentiful things were things were purplish things that stick to the rocks like barnicles but are shaped more like sea urchins but don’t have any spines.  We’d never seen anything like them before.  There were also lots of sea urchins with spines.  We also found some deep brown sea snails — the Turtle_reef_pools2_1 kind that the use to make jewelry — between the rocks in one of the inlets.  We found five so we could each take one home. 

We moved further down the shore and it started to rain — really hard.  Our clothes got soaked and it felt cold in the morning wind.  The next segment of shore was huge lava boulders that were hard to climb over, especially after the fresh rain.  We made it through this section to a point that jutted out into the ocean.  We scanned the waves for a few minutes hoping to be lucky enough to see a sea turtle or two as we had on our first day.  We planned for this to be the end of our hike, but we could see a flat area Turtle_reef_pools3_1 in the distance with tide pools.  And the bright sun had magically reappeared.  We we walked another few hundred yards to get there and discovered a series of interconnected tide pools teeming with fish, coral, sea urchins and crystal clear water.  The pools were at different levels so the water flowed like a river from one to the other.  The outer pools were within range of the breaking waves so they were filled up with water and bubbles with each crashing wave. 

We found two tide pools that were deep enough for swimming (and clear enough of sea urchins to be sure that we didn’t get poked).  We jumped in and floated in the salty warm water.  The kids jumped from the side and did cannon balls.  We had found our own private swimming hole — not a house or a person within site.

Turtle_reef_pools4_1 Within the pools bright colored fish darted around looking for a "safe" corner as we were swimming around.   We moved further out to the edge toward the breaking waves and could swim in a pool with sea foam spraying around and waves filling up the pools. 

We walked back to the house with our shells (and the live snails inside) in our hands.  We went for a quick swim in the pool to rinse off, had lunch, a little down time and prepared for our trip Turtle_reef_pools_5_1 back up to Volcano National Park

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