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No Need for Scuba to See These Creatures of the Sea - Section III, All Aboard for Fish in Water: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 15

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 3/04/2016 Mike Arkus

You can indeed be a fish out of water to see fish - no need to scuba or snorkel as your boat glides effortlessly over the glassy surface of the most translucent of lagoons. Whether it has a glass bottom or you just look over the side, you're in for a kaleidoscope of colour.
Rangiroa
Rangiroa, in the Tuamotu Islands some 220 miles north east of Tahiti, has the bluest of blue lagoons measuring 560 square miles. It's so vast that you can barely see the other side as sea and sky meld into each on a horizon so seamless that you cannot distinguish one from the other.
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The atoll consists of 415 islets and sandbars 320 to 520 yards wide, with 100 passages leading into the ocean through the fringing reef. On this journey across the azure mirror to a yet bluer blue lagoon by the islets on the far side of Avatoru town we're a group of five - an Italian honeymoon couple, a Spanish honeymoon couple, and Yours Truly.
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How romantic! Of course, it's a little less romantic when one of the Italian honeymooners surfaces from snorkelling and comes back on board with a whole string of strange gooey mess streaming out of one of her nostrils.
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But the other view over the side is spectacular - schools of reef shark performing a complex ballet through the impossibly turquoise waters.

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Aitutaki
Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, 160 miles east of Rarotonga, the main island, hosts what is generally held to be one of the most beautiful lagoons in the South Pacific, home to a dozen beautiful tropical desert islands.

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As you may have guessed, they have inevitably been descended upon by reality TV for such abominations as Survivor, Shipwreck and a potpourri of other imbecilities. Meanwhile I have a full reality show in itself sitting right next to me on a glass-bottom boat - a walking iron-monger's shop with a collection of hooks, nuts and bolts, protruding from his ears, eyebrows and lips.

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His hair is died silver blond with an orange-brown mohawk down the centre, and he's covering his left shoulder with a pink kerchief to shield the tattoo he's just had done to match the one on his right shoulder that he had done in Bora Bora two years ago. He hands his camera to a fellow passenger and poses, arms akimbo, for the self-portrait.

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Now you've all heard of the horse whisperer, dog whisperer - even ghost whisperer. Well our glass-bottom captain is the fish whisperer. It's amazing - he motions with his hand and says 'now go over there in that direction,' and a whole school of bright yellow fish swarms beneath the glass in the direction ordered.
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Then he says 'now come back this way' and they all come back. It's not a chance phenomenon - he does it again and again, always with the same results. At the end we throw bread to them.
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It seems the fish know they'll get food, pass on the knowledge and follow the direction of his hand and fingers. Meanwhile the water is forever changing its palette of incredible turquoise and greens.
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The point about Bora Bora, about 150 miles northwest of Tahiti, is you can't ignore 'er. Despite all the hype 'Honeymoon Eden' etc., the island is incredibly spectacular.

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A huge volcanic crag soars 2,300 feet into the air, a green carpet spreads out below its grey summit, a lagoon of glorious turquoise hues bathes it, and an almost continuous ring of tree-covered sandy atolls offers ridiculously expensive resorts - one over-water suite apparently can set you back $15,000 a night.

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Amid all this, with motorised pirogues zeroing in, is a feeding ground for reef sharks and huge undulating ray fish surfacing to grab food thrown to them by obliging tourists, swirling the waters and blurring my photos.

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Palau

The 200-strong Rock Islands group, verdant hummocks rising out of the western Pacific in Palau, dot a huge palette of innumerable electric blues, from sky blue to aquamarine, greenish, and deeper shades.

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There are scuba divers and snorkelers galore, but the waters are so translucent you can see the fish from the boat - huge swarms of yellow fish; yellow-tailed blue and grey; a huge Napoleon fish, greyish with a purple nose and mouth; bright blue parrot fish; large multi-coloured surgeon fish - blue, pink, silver and various other hues.

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But you'll have to take my word for it. My inner Robert Capa evidently takes time out here.

Pohnpei
On this spectacular island of jagged mountains and mangrove swamps in the Federated States of Micronesia, you can play at being Indiana Jones as you kayak among the ruins of an old stone city from the 14th century, one of the few in Micronesia.

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On your way there you're likely to see giant manta rays surfacing - amazing fish with their gills open, looking like the grid of jet engines. My inner Robert Capa awakens a little - but, as you can see, I snap at the wrong moment.

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Alaska
For something different make for Homer, Alaska, and board a boat across Kachemak Bay. Here you'll see the fabulous sea otter.
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Of course, I'm up to my usual tricks, failing to see them when everybody else does. At last not even I can miss them, a whole platoon of domed heads bobbing about. But I do fail to photo every last one of them as I fumble with the frigging camera.
At last not even I can miss with the camera, either, as they bob along on their backs, hands and feet protruding upwards, using their bellies as picnic tables to crack shell fish. Mothers carry babies on their bellies, too, then grab them by the scruff of their necks when they dive. If not, the infants would pop back up to the surface as they're still very buoyant.

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They're amazing creatures; they have up to one million hairs per square inch and eat 25 percent of their body weight daily - the equivalent of an 180-pound human consuming 45 pounds a day.
How they would look like if I got one eating - from Baranov museum on Kodiak 2016-01-23-1453575086-4771014-IMG_1158.JPG © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-01-23-1453575086-4771014-IMG_1158.JPG [Upcoming blog next Sunday: Take a Submarine to the Fish]______________By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available with free excerpts on Kindle and in print version on Amazon. Swimming With Fidel: The Toils Of An Accidental Journalist, available on Kindle, with free excerpts here, and in print version on Amazon in the U.S here.

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