Pacific Ocean
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At Punalu’u Beach Park on the Island of Hawaii, sea turtles climb onto the black sand beaches to do what it is that everyone does on the beach: relax, have a cocktail or two, sunbath, do some light swimming.

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Many of these turtles have returned to the same shores for years and for generations, finding safe haven among the rocks and palm trees for their nesting sites.

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People gather to watch and photograph and get frustratingly close to these sensitive animals, and it’s all I can do to fight the Yellowstone ranger in me that wants to smack people for getting just one more inch closer. Unlike elk and grizzly bears, though, sea turtles don’t usually put their tormentors in a hospital. A group of Japanese girls squeal in delight as the turtle moves slowly toward the waves, but thankfully, they keep a respectful distance.

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Enjoy these creatures as they swim and waddle and bask in the warm, tropical sun, but please, leave them alone to live and love in peace.

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In a place known for its deadly palm trees and razor-sharp palm fronds…

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Maybe its best to stick to the open ocean.

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Maybe take shelter in a lava tube, flowing miles and miles from an active volcano until it spews out into the ocean.

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Watching as the pier slowly deteriorates under the pressure of the Pacific weather, a pier that contains the fiber-optic secrets of the infant volcano boiling just off shore.

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After spending a lazy morning sipping coffee on a black sand beach and watching the ocean slowly usher the morning sun to the shore, we saw something – or several somethings – flitting in and out of the bay’s calm waters.

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Dolphins, taking advantage of the swells and incoming tides, played just off shore.

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Campers at Ho’okena Beach Park, a small, peaceful beach park run by a local non-profit, snapped up fins and masks and snorkels and waded into the clear waters of the Pacific to spend some time living like the dolphins.

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While we snapped our photos with our underwater cameras, it became obvious that our sea-faring friends weren’t the entertainment, WE were. The dolphins poked fun of us as they swam in between and around and over, coming close to flirt with danger before skipping away in a flood of delphine giggles.

Dolphin Tricks!

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