Missing Turtle

Larry

For more than a year there was a turtle living at Fish Eye Marine Park. He ate the food that they threw in the water for the fish, and visited with the tourists. Some people called him “Larry,” and other people called him “Crush.”

I don’t know what he called himself.

However, he had a small metal tag under each front flipper. One said NOAA Maui USA, and the other said PI2775. He was a green sea turtle who was approximately 50 years of age, and he had a girl turtle in the Piti Bomb Holes near by that he seemed to visit with.

In Mid-July, the tour operators at Fish Eye watched as people from the Department of Agriculture came and took Larry the turtle away.

They said they were taking him “to study,” according to the tour operators.

However, when we called the Department of Agriculture, they  claimed that the turtle “was a nuisance” and so as moved “to the other side of the island.”

Now of course, this was not his first time being caught on Guam. The Marine Biologists at Underwater World took him for study. They weighed him, measured him, and then released him on the other side of the island.

He swam right back, because he enjoys people and food.

However, after the Department of Agriculture claims to have taken him “to the other side of the island,” he did not swim back.

He was a very strong swimmer, and you can be sure that he was capable. How can you be sure, you ask? Well, the people at Underwater World were actually hoping that they could find some evidence that his rear flipper (which was damaged) made it too difficult for him to be in the wild.

They hoped this because they have a rescued sea turtle in the aquarium already, and they hoped for a second.

However, according to the laws governing the treatment of an endangered species, if they are found to be able to survive on their own, they cannot be “rescued.”

Ergo, we know that if the turtle had actually been released by the Department of Agriculture, he would have swam back as he had done before.

We cannot make conclusions from the information that we have. However, we can know two things for sure.

1. Turtle meat fetches a high price on Guam and on the other islands in the chain, because the Native people eat turtle. They know that these turtles are endangered, but some choose to do it anyway. Anyone who took the turtle to sell would have made a LOT of money.

2. They were very suspicious on the phone and asked for my husband’s full name and information before claiming that the turtle was moved. If they are keeping track of who is asking, then one would suggest that they have a reason to be worried.

I am not saying that the Department of Agriculture sold the turtle. However, I am saying without a doubt that they were the last people to have him, and that in two months, he has still not been sighted anywhere else.

If they did not sell him, then their choice to move him certainly seems to have brought about his untimely demise, leaving his girlfriend single and removing his genes from the species.

Furthermore, I spoke with several tour operators who said the initial complaint against the turtle was falsified.

They claim that he was good for business and made the tourists happy and that they would never have done anything that led to his removal.

It is certainly suspicious.

I hope that there will be an investigation, since selling an endangered species for profit is obviously illegal. However, given the diminished funding of the EPA, I worry that justice will not be served.

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Side Note:

I have also not seen the female turtle who was hanging around the Piti Bomb Holes near Fish Eye. However, I am not sure that not seeing her is significant. Green Sea Turtles are not social, and it is possible that she was just around to “visit” a boy turtle for a bit.

This is what she looked like:

girlfriend

If you look, you can see that you doesn’t have a tail that extends past her shell, or claws on her flippers. Only males have those traits (which is actually to hold onto the female’s shell.)

She was a little smaller than the male turtle, but they seemed similar in size and age.

girlfriend two

Anyway:

The point of this post is that if anyone has any information about the green sea turtle lovingly called “Larry” or “Crush” who used to live at Fish Eye Marine Park, please let me know.

Thank you.

Coral Bleaching at Gab Gab 9/2/17

Healthy coral has color to it. In the picture above, you can see healthy coral thriving at Gab Gab reef on May 2nd, 2017. This is what it is supposed to look like.

Unfortunately, the coral around the world is dying, and I want to talk about it for a moment.

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Coral is made up of many tiny animals called Polyps.

These little animals have specialized chloroplast cells inside called zooxanthellae. These chloroplasts absorb sunlight and convert it to food for the polyp. Without them, a polyp will die.

When the water temperature in an area gets too hot, the zooxanthellae stop being able to work. They are sensitive to temperature, and so they die.

When they die and the polyp pushes them out, the coral becomes white (since polyps have no color.) Eventually, the polyps die and the coral becomes nothing more than skeletons covered in algae.

 

The reefs on Guam are bleaching. This is part of a worldwide event, which is being driven by climate change.

I wanted to share these pictures and videos in an effort to draw attention to the fact that this is happening, and how awful it is.

These pictures are taken at Gab Gab, just like the one at the top of the page. The difference is only a few months, but the difference in the temperature in the water is extremely noticeable.

Before, it used to be a little chilly when you first got in. Gab Gab is a reef that goes from the surface water level down more than one hundred feet. Deeper water, in my experience, tends to be colder.

And yet, yesterday when I got in the water, it was hot.

I beg you all to take a very close look.

I think a lot of people who have never been snorkeling or diving are able to easily ignore the bleaching of the corals and the dying of the reefs.

For me, living here, it is much harder.

Coral are home to thousands of species of animals, and as they die, those animals will also die.

The diversity of life that we had in our oceans was amazing, and losing it is absolutely horrifying.

I have no words beautiful enough or sad enough to write the eulogy for our oceans. Nothing said or written could capture how beautiful this reef was just a few months ago.

Seeing the reef now as it bleaches and dies is one of the most painful things I have ever seen.

Mount Lam Lam

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This hike varies in difficulty depending on the weather. If you go early enough in the morning and it is a windy day, this can be a very nice hike.

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If the air is still and you wait until too late in the day, it’s murder.

orange flower (big)

Either way, bring a lot of sunscreen because there is very little shade.

rich from the back

Also, make sure to have mosquito repellent for any spots you make in the shade. If it has been rainy (and it usually is) you will see a lot of mosquitoes.

rich and the view

There are two tops to Mount Lam Lam, and there is some dispute as to which one is the “real” top.

rich with crosses

On the right hand path, you will follow the stations of the cross up to one of the tops of the mountain. This has wonderful views of the ocean and many locals consider it the real top.

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However, if you take the left hand path, you will get to the top of the mountain that is officially recognized as the top.

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I have done both. The top with the crosses is a much shorter path because it goes straight up.

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On the other hand, the surveyors top takes you down into the jungle, and then back up along a poorly marked trial until at last you climb the rocks to the marker.

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It’s a beautiful view from either spot, and I recommend doing both (though maybe not in the same day.)

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If you are Catholic, you might appreciate the little shrine about halfway up before the trail splits off.

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Definitely take some time to enjoy the ground orchids, passion vines, and other beautiful plants.

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On an amusing side note: The locals consider Mount Lam Lam to be the tallest mountain in the world because they measure from the bottom of the Marianas Trench to the top of the peak.

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Therefore, if you climb Mount Lam Lam, you can amuse your friends by saying you climbed the tallest mountain in the world.

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Another Gratuitous Sunset Post

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I discovered when trying to show you all the sunsets that I have seen that I can only post forty at once. I use a free WordPress site for my blog, and apparently there are limitations (which is fine, because it’s free.)

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Anyway, here are the rest of the sunsets I wanted to show you in my June 5th post.

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One.

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Two.

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Three.

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Four.

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Five.

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Six.

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Seven.

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Eight.

(Note: We have an Airforce Base at the tip of the island and sometimes they play in the sunset.)

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Nine.

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Ten.

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Eleven.

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Twelve.

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Thirteen.

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Fourteen.

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Fifteen.

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Sixteen.

 

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Seventeen.

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Eighteen.

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Nineteen.

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Twenty.

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Twenty One.

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Twenty Two.

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Twenty Three.

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Twenty Four.

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Twenty Five.

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Twenty Six.

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Twenty Seven.

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Twenty Eight.

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Twenty Nine.

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Thirty.

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Thirty One.

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Thirty Two.

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Thirty Three.

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Thirty Four.

sunset on the beach in hawaii with kristi

Thirty Five.

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Thirty Six.

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Thirty Seven.

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Thirty Eight.

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Thirty Nine.

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Forty.

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Of course it’s always better to see a tropical sunset in person. So, maybe some visit me in Guam and come see one!

Tarzan Falls Hike

extreme close up of ground orchid
Off route 16, there is a trail head for Tarzan Falls. Once you park in the lot by the windmill, you start your hike.

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There are a lot of trails, but all of them go down to the falls.

love these crispy ferns

I recommend taking the trails to the left, because they are drier.

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If you go to the right, you’ll be on trails mostly used for ATVs and other vehicles. That makes deep ruts which fill with water.

me with the topmost level of the falls

Either way, you’ll get down to the top of the falls.

group shot with richs eyes open

The first set are very pretty, and also small. Usually there are a lot of people at the top, so you should be able to get someone to take your picture. This is our hiking group!

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When you follow the posted sign and climb down, you’ll see the largest of the falls.

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Make sure you have good hiking boots, because there is a lot of mud.

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Also, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen.

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There is a swimming hole, so bring a bathing suit if you want to swim.

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If you plan to go onto the rocks, use caution because they are very slippery.

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There is a rope swing on the left side of the pool for swinging into the water, but again, be cautious of the rocks.

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After you see the big falls, head downstream along the smaller trail.

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There are two more sets of waterfalls that you can get to.

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I recommend bringing snacks, so that you can eat when you get down to the end of the trail.

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There are lots of good spots to swim or wade. There aren’t many fish, but you may see tadpoles or fresh water shrimp.

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The hike is only 1.4 miles total, but bring lots of water. It’s a long and difficult hike back up.

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This is one of the easier hikes on Guam, so it’s excellent for beginners.

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Hamamoto Fruit World

Hamamoto Fruit World is a tourist attraction on the island of Guam.

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It’s really geared towards Japanese tourists, but anyone is welcome.

dragon fruit in a basket

I am a real lover of plants, and I thought it was exciting to get the chance to learn more about the plants that live on the equator.

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The park it basically a long, looping road.

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You can use your own car, or you can take the park shuttle.

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I recommend taking your own car. That way you can take as long as you want to see things.

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We actually ended up stopping and getting out of the car a lot, so we could have a closer look at the plants.

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In particular the coffee plants (above) were fascinating to my husband. He loves coffee.

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Of course, I like the agave, since that is what is used to make tequila.

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The park is located off route 16, and the road there is a little rough.

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Once you get there, you can enjoy the small garden before doing the looping drive.

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Also, there are places to take picture with the very of the center of the island.

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You will see all kinds of flowers, bushes, and trees.

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My favorite is the ginger. The plants are beautiful, and they come in red, pink, and white.

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Ginger is used as a spice, but it can also be used in tea.

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Some of the best fruit on Guam is the Dragon Fruit and Mango, but we also have star fruit and other exciting things you don’t find outside the tropics.

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Hamamoto fruit world is a wonderful place to see what kind of plants live in “Zone Nine,” or the equator.

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We also have pineapple, wax apple, herbs for tea, and all sorts of other exciting things.

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Remember sunscreen, since there are places to get out and walk.

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When you pay, you will get a small information packet so you can identify the fruits.

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It was $3 per person to tour the place, so it’s certainly the most affordable thing to do on Guam.

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It’s fun trying to figure out what plant goes with what picture.

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Some I had seen before. For example, coconuts and bread fruit grow all over the island.

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Other plants, like the sugar apples, were new to me.

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Before you leave, be sure to stop at the gift shop.

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They make their own honey, Popsicles, and other products from the fruits in the park.

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Plan on spending about an hour there, although you could spend all day if you really like plants!

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Inarajan Falls

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The town of Inarajan is most famous for a set of pools fed by ocean water that are good for swimming, and also some nice views.

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Malojoj Falls is more of a hidden gem. You drive up to the middle school, and park outside the fence. There’s a road into the jungle, and you follow it out of the trees and into the open plains.

on the trail

The red dirt is pretty and the tall grass is full of ground orchids.

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You can even find passion flowers at the right time of year.

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If you follow the trail, it will take you over a stream and into a bamboo forest.

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Keep going down hill, and you’ll come to the falls. I recommend bringing gloves, because there are ropes you need to hold to get down the steep parts.

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The falls are bigger after the rainy season, but they are nice any time of year.

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There is a set of smaller waterfalls when you first come down the slope, and then if you go upstream, you’ll see a taller waterfall.

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There’s a nice little spot to sit and listen to the water, and there is even a hammock (above you can see my husband laying in it.)

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The owner of the land is fine with people visiting, as long as they clean up their trash. Make sure you pick up after yourself. If you sit and relax for awhile, you will see butterflies come up to drink from the lower falls, and to eat from the flowers that are planted all around. It’s a really nice place to spend an afternoon.

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Again, make sure to bring lots of sunscreen and water! Wear plants because some of the plants have thorns, and definitely A hat for crossing the sunny plains.

me in hiking gear