Whales by Dewey Hammond

My final day on the island before moving back to California (what a wonderful year in Honduras) was not without special visitors. José spotted whales and we took Kiko to investigate. I can't remember if we saw multiple whales or one whale multiple times, but I spotted multiple flukes, which is when a whale's tail breaches the surface before diving deep. Not sure what type of whale it was, but it was bigger than a pilot whale. My best guess is sperm whale. Thanks, as always, go to the captain.

José by Dewey Hammond

José is now the proud owner of HH's sombrero from when she was a lifeguard 15 years ago.

Like family to me. I'm gonna miss being on the water every day with José and his brother Nelson.

Like family to me. I'm gonna miss being on the water every day with José and his brother Nelson.

One more dive by Dewey Hammond

My final dive on the island was actually an El Aquario drift to Lighthouse, Moonlight, and Half Moon Bay Wall, not Bikini Bottom. I'm thankful Andy encouraged me to get back into the water one more time, despite my mangled leg. I'm going to miss the island and my friends at West End Divers.

My 510th and final dive on the island.

My 510th and final dive on the island.

Magnificent frigatebirds by Dewey Hammond

Male and female magnificent frigatebirds in Half Moon Bay, Roatán, Honduras. The female is flying above and the male is diving down.

Male and female magnificent frigatebirds in Half Moon Bay, Roatán, Honduras. Female down by the water, with the white breast.

Male and female magnificent frigatebirds in Half Moon Bay, Roatán, Honduras. Female with a meal in its beak while the male dives again.

Female magnificent frigatebird in Half Moon Bay, Roatán, Honduras.

Male and female magnificent frigatebirds in Half Moon Bay, Roatán, Honduras. They circled like this for a while.

Female magnificent frigatebird. 

Mystery marine injury by Dewey Hammond

For the past two or three weeks, I've had a marine injury that got worse before it got better. It didn't respond to antibiotics, and despite looking pretty gruesome at its worst, it didn't have many of the telltale signs of an infection (e.g. pain). It has been a full three weeks now, and after consulting with doctors in Honduras and the United States, the best guess is that it was a piece of  foreign matter (most likely coral) lodged in my skin that my immune system simply did not like. It kept me out of the water for most of my final week on the island, and it kept me from doing a blackwater midnight dive, but I didn't manage one final dive before I left, with both Andy and José.

About two days into symptoms and 10 days after the initial scrape.

About two days into symptoms and 10 days after the initial scrape.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Roatán, Honduras.

Wahoo by Dewey Hammond

Wahoo caught off the coast of Roatán by Nelson when we were diving the point.

Wahoo caught off the coast of Roatán by Nelson when we were diving the point.

About 30 pounds, put up a good fight apparently, but sadly it lost. 

About 30 pounds, put up a good fight apparently, but sadly it lost. 

Nelson, proud, with his catch. It'll feed all of our friends and his family.

Nelson, proud, with his catch. It'll feed all of our friends and his family.

Trash in the water by Dewey Hammond

Normally the reefs and beaches of Roatán are relatively clean except for discarded fishing line choking the reef, but the world's oceans are always dirty and getting worse. Sometimes it's just out of sight, out of mind, until currents bring trash home and remind us how much waste we produce.

West End, Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras.

West End, Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras.

Pilot whales by Dewey Hammond

At about eight in the morning, José spotted tuna boiling about three or four hundred meters offshore. As a lifelong fisherman, it's easy for him to spot with the naked eye. As a relative layman by comparison, it was difficult for me to spot even with binoculars. You can see shimmery, white flashes as the light reflects off the tuna jumping out of the water. Tuna boiling oftentimes means whale sharks, pilot whales, dolphins, or something large that disrupts the calm of schooling tuna. I gave everyone on the morning boat notice that we'd seen tuna, and to perhaps bring a snorkel. When José spots something, listen.

I was first off the boat, to check for sharks, specifically oceanic whitetips, which have a reputation for being aggressive, unafraid, and unlike most sharks willing to put up with a fight to get their meal. Oftentimes oceanic whitetips follow pilot whales, presumably to pick up scraps when the whales feed but who really knows. Nobody who knows sharks is afraid of hammerheads, but oceanic whitetips make you think twice. I'm sure the sharks were there, somewhere deep, but it was reassuring to not see them at the surface. Still, visibility wasn't great (which is also why the pics aren't so great) so we played it relatively safe. We stayed as a group and didn't stray too far from the boat. We learned from our past adventure.

It was my second time swimming with pilot whales in Honduras, each thanks to José and each on Delfín. The first encounter was a bit more harrowing. Oceanic whitetips circled between us and the boat, and my dive buddy got not only circled but also bumped. He didn't exactly remain calm, but live and learn fortunately that day no harm done. Something I'll never forget.

One of the many pilot whales we spotted today, just off the coast of Honduras.

The mainland of Honduras can be seen in the background, as seen from the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Roatán near Half Moon Bay in West End. One of maybe two dozen pilot whales surrounding the boat.

One of the rare moments that I wish I dove with a camera.