The Sirius Institute Eclipse Project

Report to BIX

by Michael Hyson


It has been some time since I have been able to connect with BIX. We left from Maui for Hawai'i by air in three waves, arriving with scads of extra luggage - computers, laser printer, digereedo, guitars, MIDI gear, the Vocalizer, hydrophone, underwater speaker, etc. -- a whole institute portable.
We were invited to participate in the Ohana Total Eclipse Spiritual Gathering in honor of Hawai'ian Sovereignty. The concert was to be held within 4 miles of Kehena beach, south of Hilo, south of Pahoa on the southeast coast of the Island of Hawai'i.

We came to Opihikau Farms, Bill and Marilyn Rodgers home and studio - a self-sufficient home on five acres with solar panels, generator and propane power. Power in this section of the Island is a real luxury and to have enough clean115 VAC to run computers even rarer. We are fortunate to have a dry room for all the equipment. Many people were there already and concert preparations were underway. A very active time.

On Hilo side of the island it rains several times a day and during the period of the eclipse, it rained almost continually. We were told that it was raining even more than usual, even for the rainy side of Hawai'i.

Transport was another difficulty. Several cars were offered for our use and Bill Rodgers had other vans and trucks available. Many broke down soon after we arrived so rides were scarce. Many were needed for the concert preparations. A boat was promised yet since the dolphins came to the local Kehena beach at odd times, we would have needed a boat for 24 hrs/day for several days -- well beyond the current budget.

After 3 days here transfering equipment and people to the Kehena beach area, I spent a night on the beach in a tent starting the evening of July 6th, along with Joy and Tiger. From the beginning Joy and Tiger stayed at the beach. Because of the lack of transport and the requirements of the concert and the dolphin work, there were times of very little food and water there. Their determination to stay made the representation of the Sirius Institute on the beach continuous till the eclipse and beyond (7/14). Joy observed 20 or 30 dolphins at the beach each day she was there.

Kehena is a cresent-shaped black lava-sand beach about 200 yards long, backed by black lava cliffs about 80 feet high and accessible by a tricky path down the cliff. Some trees, palms and ironwood, and shrubs grow near the back of the beach providing some shelter. The surf is typically 3-4 feet high and sometimes higher. Occasionally very large waves wash most of the beach. There is something like 2.5 miles of accessible beach on the whole of Big Island. Kehena is popular and clothing optional.

The beach formed soon after a 1955 lava flow that covered a major housing development and is new land about 36 years old. Five miles to the south there are still lava flows that enter the sea. You can see the steam plumes of these flows from Kehena.

The dolphins come by this beach to feed regularly and often come close to the people that swim to meet them. Typically they come within 200 yards of shore and sometimes much closer.

The day we arrived on the Island, the dolphins had come right to the beach and swum with the children who were able to wade into the surf and touch them. To our knowledge, this is the first time they had come in so close. We know a girl named Jewels who has swum with them and touched them. This is quite rare behavior for free dolphins. Should this continue, we may have one of the few places in the world where dolphins come so close and interact with people.

After a rainy night, at about 8:30 the next morning, after a brilliant red sunrise (probably enhanced by the dust from the Phillipine volcano, about 6 bottlenose dolphins arrived and stayed for about 30 minutes -- I swam within 10 feet of them. The Sirius Institute had made contact with the dolphins!

Later that day, 20 spinner dolphins came by at 4 pm and put on quite a show, jumping and spinning in the air. People cheered and clapped at the leaping dolphins and it appeared they responded to our enthusiasm. I stayed on the beach for that day and part of the next.

It was determined that we could run cables from the beach for the hydrophone and underwater speaker, keeping the electronics in the tent which was reasonably dry. The next day, 15 to 20 dolphins arrived at the beach at about 10 am and stayed for about an hour. We swam within 20 feet of them, about 300 yards from the beach.

Early Tuesday, I left for Hilo to get the pieces and cables needed to convert the system to beach operation. I wired the new system and installed a new speaker in the underwater enclosure and slept very little. We arrived back at Kehena in pouring rain at sunset Wednesday.

The day I came back with the equipment, the tent had to go back to its owner, so Joy set up in a tarp-covered sweat lodge where they hold full-moon sweats. I am very glad she did, because we absolutely needed a fairly dry place for the equipment. Considering the lack of equipment, water, food, heavy rain and high surf, Joy's time on the beach was certainly a major undertaking. She stuck it out waiting for supplies that were late, and being exposed to the weather. Thank you.

She says she had a good time on the beach, met and talked to many people and swam with the dolphins. Their first day alone on the beach, a number of dolphins came to within about twenty feet or so of the beach so Joy could see them more closely. At one point, she was dropped by a wave onto her head and had a sore neck and a bruised eyelid for several days. Tiger had a good time swimming and playing with the kids and a boogie board. By the end of our time there, he was playing in the waves by himself.

The sweat lodge was larger and actually drier than the tent. Our friend Larry had come from Maui and camped with us. His stove was useful for cooking food and his moral support very welcome.

A diver, Mark, and Charles Lucy were scheduled to arrive at 5 am the following morning to install the buoy that would hold the speaker and the hydrophone. As darkness fell, we were prepared for the eclipse -- it had taken everyone a lot of effort to supply us with food, water and a stove and to transport the equipment. The weather was rain and cloud.

As the night progressed, the wind came up, there was 6 to 8 foot waves. The rain stopped. There were zero stars. At about midnight to 1 am, I got a very strong feeling that the dolphins wanted me in the water, at a particular part of the sea off the beach. It was a very powerful call. Despite the obvious dangers of swimming at night, I went. Other people have had similar calls, heeded them and the dolphins came to them. So I walked to the sea, and was immediately slammed into the sand by a large wave. The second time, I calmly walked down the beach. A wave enveloped me and I was in. I swam about 1/2 mile out to sea.

Once away from the surf, the water was clear and calm. It was very dark. There were bioluminescent organisms in the water. When I swam or moved my arms, there were beautiful sparkles like stars in the water. I dove down and waved my arms -- more stars. I swam for the area I felt to go to and dove down as deep as I could. I could hear the dolphins singing, creaking, clicking all around me. I zero saw them in the darkness -- yet they were there.

The water was calm and bath-warm. The rain had formed a layer of fresh water on the surface and I could drink it! It was only slightly salty. It was very wonderful there. I could float in a way that I could rest and almost sleep.

Meanwhile, the thoughts I had were interesting. Was the water warm because of lava flow? Was there a chance of a large wave hitting the beach? After all, the sun and moon were precisely aligned and this was making very high tides. The wind was high at the beach and big waves were known to hit Kehena.

After an hour or so out there, I started swimming back. There was a light from a house off to my left and I could see the island dark on the horizon. I swam for over an hour and still was out quite a ways. Perhaps my next destination was Seattle.

In the past, when I had swum from Kehena, the currents were mild and I simply swam back in. This time was different. I eventually heard surf breaking and swam for the smallest waves. I re-entered in nearly total darkness onto a boulder beach, I went limp as the waves dropped me onto the boulders. Once there, there was little light to show me where I was. There was loose sharp lava scree slopes leading away from the beach. I carefully climbed the rocks and found a tent. The occupants told me I was 2 miles from Kehena, I had been washed north-east along the coast. I walked at least another 1/2 mile across the sharp lava to a road and eventually reached the cliff path to Kehena at first light. All was well. Expecting help at 5 am, I went to sleep.

As luck would have it, the diver had slipped a disk in his back lifting a generator the night before and stayed home. Charles and I did our best to tie off the hydrophone buoy to the rocks about 200 feet from shore while Joy monitored the hydrophone signal. I was diving near my useful limit of 40 feet and with the surge and wave, I only got the buoy partially tied. Either I could find a rock and then get washed away, or I could just barely tie off the cord before I had to surface. Eventually, I got a partial purchase on a rock and went to shore to see how the hydrophone was doing.

We were getting hydrophone signal and there were zero dolphins as totality occured. It was full cloud -- it just got dark for a while and then lightened. About 20 minutes after totality, the dolphins arrived!

The hydrophone was still in the water but its mooring cord had come loose and it had washed into the beach. My best guess is that the hydrophone was working and the dolphins were too far away to make a clear signal. When tested again, later that day, the hydrophone worked fine. Installation of the buoy single-handed was just too much for me in the heavy surf.

As the dolphins came to within 100 yards of the shore, they were arrayed in pod and family groups. It was like a parade. We looked underwater and saw at least 3 times as many dolphins underwater as we could see surfacing. We estimate that there were a minimum of 100 dolphins and perhaps 150 to 200 depending on ratio of surfaced to submerged. They stayed for about 4 hours, feeding in the channel and swimming in the vicinity of the people that went to greet them.

Joy and I swam out and got within 10 to 20 feet several times. This was the most dolphins I had ever seen in one place. It was wonderful. One could see the family groups go by, with males in the lead, females and babies following. There were about 6 to 10 groups of 6 to eight dolphins, some spinners and some bottlenose. (Estimate about 3-4 spinners to each bottlenose) When near them, I could hear their sounds, buzzes, clicks etc. Near shore with the competing wave and sand noise, I could zero hear the dolphin sounds.

All in all, an interesting time. We (Joy, Tiger and I) stayed on the beach that day and the next, when the next dawn came, it was clear and blue -- the day after the eclipse! Joy was doing most of the work by this point because my cut feet were getting very sore. Next day, a crew came from Opihikau to get us off the beach. We hauled the majority of equipment up the cliff to the van by rope and we walked and I hobbled on cut feet up to the road. We have been regrouping, mending and installing ourselves at Opihikau ever since.

Our sincere thanks to the Rodgers, their family and friends, to TerriLou, Darryl, Rick, Billy Star and many others who supported us with trips, food, water, and moving equipment. A masterful performance under trying conditions of timing, weather, salt, and breaking autos.

The Ohana Concert was played and several groups and musicians played. Few people came as it rained heavily both days. Some 85% of the island was cloudy during the eclipse. The observatory and parts of Kona side were clear.

We met many people on the beach, many interested in the dolphins and our project. I met a Hawai'ian named Butch who had been a dolphin trainer at the White Marlin Porpoise Circus in Port Aransas, Texas. He knew Pete, the first dolphin I ever swam with.

What did we accomplish?

1. We are installed in a facility with Bill and Marilyn Rodgers -- pioneers of underwater birthing and musicians, very interested in our projects and with a 16 track recording studio.
2. We are four miles from friendly free dolphins that come almost every day.
3. We established and stayed on the beach for some 7 days -- our first Human/Dolphin habitat.
4. The equipment was partially installed, and worked and survived salt, heavy rain and very primitive conditions. The equipment is tough.
5. We have learned a lot about sea, surf and survival.
6. Lucy-Scale tuned music was played on the day of the eclipse.
7. We have made contact with the dolphins: at sea, at night and on the beach. More dolphins came each day we were there up to the eclipse and they stayed longer each day.

Thinking about my adventure at sea, I got the following intuition that was accompanied by goose-bumps over my whole body -- a signal that has been reliable in the past for such intuitions. The answer was this: My thoughts about waves hitting the beach were correct. Somehow, the dolphins and I were helping to calm the waters to protect the beach. This is an internal knowing, beyond verifiable logic -- it is what I know. It was also a major initiation for me with the sea. Part of the experience was that I became one with the water, and, in a sense, had a rebirth experience surrounded by the dolphins. I am more at home, more fluid in the water. I now know we can survive at sea for a long time, and even have water when it rains and collects on the surface. Song Swimmer Calls the Dawn is home. The Sirius Institute has a home base.

Mahalo dolphins.

The Song Swimmer and dolphin music will be working soon. We can install it with scuba and monitor and record the dolphins for days at a time where they come every day. We are with a group that pioneered underwater birthing-- Bill Rodgers is the forth husband to participate in an underwater birth and 3 of the 4 children that Bill and Marilyn have were born underwater. There is much to learn here in this new island. There are healing plants like the Noni that helped my feet heal and kokolau, an herb used to cure hang-overs, and maki tea and many others known to the kahunas and Billy Star.

There are sea-side properties with natural hot ponds that are connected with the sea. Some have passages wide enough for the dolphins - natural habitat/birthing facilities for the next stages of our project.

And there is the practical side of running a Mac and Amiga on solar power and generator == you can crash when the generator runs out of gas, and the Laser printer, drawing 6.6 amps is a little underpowered here. The place can be improved. It is a large house with rooms so -- the Bixen that want to come and visit are welcome.

Mahalo for all the support the Bixen have given us.


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