September 25, 2012

A sailing/whaling day at the Regatta Vava'u

VAVA'U, Kingdom of Tonga - The day started out dark and stormy and right here in downtown the rain pounded hard for nearly 20 minutes in a tropical downpour.

Most people cheered.

It was an auspicious start, considering that much of this part of the island chain has been suffering from drought. And that is a pretty serious deal here, as most of the drinking water comes either from the skies or is shipped in via bottles. The vast majority is collected though into big tanks.

The race was a quick affair out and through some of the nearby islands, starting at 11:30 a.m. and done by 2:30 p.m. But in the middle of all that, the participants had to go into a shoreside cave as well as scamper across a spit of sand to get some clues that would help them in how they finished in the race.

The cave was amazing, the same spot Adm. Fox and I snorkeled in earlier this week as part of our swim-with-the whales expedition.

Our photo and video collection is growing in leaps and bounds, with backups and another set of backups on a gazillion gigabyte harddrive. (OK, it's only a one terrabyte hard drive, but still.)

This afternoon we listened to a presentation about the whales of this area, the very whales we were swimming with early this week.

We learned that whales are most closely related to the land mammals we call the hippo and that at one time, there were 45,000 humpbacks taken illegally from these islands before the then king called a halt to it in 1979

When he stopped the whale harvesting, the local Tonga whale population was down to 12 breeding females. Now there are about 2,400 and coming back at about 3 percent per year.


Among the many revelations was that krill - the mainstay food of these animals when in the frozen stretches of the southern oceans - is declining. No, not just because of climate charge, but because many countries are havesting krill for use in the manufacture of vitamin supplements.

I really need to research where the oil comes from in my USANA supplements.

Below is a photo of today's captains' meeting before the race, at the Mango Cafe.

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