Encounters in Moorea

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Thu 3 May 2012 08:30
17:29.4S 149:51.1W
We are now anchored in Opunohu bay on the north side of Moorea.  The anchorage is just inside the lagoon pass, in what is the clearest water we have seen to date.  The water here is 20 feet deep and yet we could see the bottom quite clearly in the moonlight last night.
This morning we went with the crew of Working on a Dream to check out a dolphin encounter, turtle sanctuary and stingray experience at the Intercontinental hotel.
The dolphin experience was $150 per person for 15 minutes standing in the water with the dolphins.  It seemed a bit expensive, but you did not have to pay anything to stand on a platform by the dolphin area and watch other people in with the dolphins. 
At first we though it was sad to keep the dolphins in what seemed to be a fairly small pen, but then we saw how high they could jump.  They could obviously just hop out if they wanted to leave.
Thinking about it, it must be pretty boring for a dolphin out in the open sea.  They probably have much more fun in here being hand fed fish and getting stroked every 15 minutes,
The turtle sanctuary rescues sick turtles and nurses them to health before releasing them.  This female hawksbill turtle has a permanent flotation problem and will never be able to return to the wild.
The highlight of the day was finding the right place on the reef for the stingray experience.  A helpful local in a canoe told us approximately where to go and when we saw a group of boats that had congregated on a sandbank we just went over and jumped in to join them with the rays and sharks.
The guides were feeding the stingrays with bits of fish, so that they come snooping around everyone looking to see if you had some fish. 
Where there are pieces of fish there are bound to be some sharks circling around hoping to get some.  This four foot black tip reef shark was one of a dozen or so hanging around.
The guide gave Andrea some fish and she was immediately the center of attention for the stingrays.
They would snuffle around looking for the food.  Quite ticklish at times.