A Love Story to Kona and Her Ocean Inhabitants – Called to Hawaii Series

Retreiving the Bones

My good friend, Jan Salerno, wrote this essay for my “Called to Hawaii” series. She recounts ocean life and wisdom including a mystic swimming experience from the beach near the Kailua Pier. Jan owns a local charter business and she is a talented artist.  She and I have created quite a few whale watching trips for my Kona Newbies group and if you read my book, “1 Year, 2 Kids, and 800 Sq Ft-A Small Family’s Adventure on the Big Island of Hawaii“, I met Jan while working on the dolphin boat in the book! She is a true dolphin whisperer!

Aloha Mermaid -by Jan Salerno

 An Ocean Love Story

I share a love letter, a sustained note of appreciation, paeon to this place called Hawaii, offering a glimpse into Trust, following one’s true heart. I know I am a guest here enamored with all that Hawaii evokes.

A part of me is of the aina. Pele, when did you give me this piece of your heart? I longed for Hawaii before I could speak your name. Lush green pali, palm trees, deep blue seas, mermaids, dolphins and brightly colored fish were my inner landscape and symbol. I know I lived on islands before this life began in Los Angeles. Tahiti, ancient Polynesia, Lemuria? I can see these lives. They are a beacon and call to come home here to Hawaii, to resonate with a life well lived. Many lives have been lived in these 62 years. I’ve finally come home, allowed my wandering its passion and pull of adventure, to come of age as Grandmother to wisdom and grace this place as home.

Kailua Bay

Let my words take us on a swim together, a dip into these clear warm life-giving waters that hold great delight and mystery. I feel how my lean body is buoyed by the salty seas of the mother. I relax a big sigh into my snorkel as I stretch out my arms to swim a mile in picturesque Kailua Bay strengthening my body while appreciating such beauty. My fins give me speed and resistance… to tone. My mask allows me to see clearly the alive surroundings. Moorish Idols, Yellow Tang and parrotfish scour the reef for morsels. Goat fish and surgeon fish roll gently back and forth at the will of surge and gentle wave seeking tiny morsels.  The blue clarity is strikingly healing. Teeming with movement, the coral reefs and white patterned sands stretch beyond my sight blending into the far reaching blue.

A fish ball looms coming into focus as I approach. Rivers of silver fish, akole, stream in an immense vortex while tributaries of fish appear pouring into other areas dodging reef mount and invisible obstacles with wide brushstrokes and swaths of movement.  Aku and milkfish appear underneath and within, scavenging and seeking protection. Dizzying to be in the middle, I’m compelled to dive down and my presence parts the curtain of fish revealing coral reef nooks and cranny’s, a green sea turtle and scavenger. I rise to the surface through the reflected beams of sunlight, brightening the mirrored under surface promising my lungs as they burn my next breath. I dive down again and again and play in this Nature phenomenon. The kanaka speak of these colonies of fish. They have been long time residents of Kailua Bay.

Torn, I say a hui hou to the fish ball to see what other locals come by for a visit. I swim towards the mile point 2 buoy, head down listening to my breathing, refining my stroke and mesmerized by the ocean floor and zoom! A Hawaiian spinner dolphin cuts me off and then a group of five continue past. I sputter and laugh in delight as I was lost in my swimming reverie. I look around and see a local pod of 25 dolphins,  deep in trance resting as they move gracefully under me. We pass without physical touch so close..so aware of each others presence. I calm and model their mood joined now in their potent unified field. I give thanks that we all co-exist here, intersect and move along. Their grace is enchanting, curve and marking. The eye of the dolphin, a deep dive into wonder. Many a seeker has left behind lives in tangle to seek solace here and relearn joy expressed by these dolphin pods, as did I.

Honu – Jan Salerno

I midwife people into this underwater world with my guiding with my Dolphin Whisperers Hawaii business. All of my healing practices and ocean passions and studies come together here in these moments of wonder in such a profound and simple return to Joy. I’m called towards the west by a dolphin, a whistle evidenced in sound and bubble stream from her blowhole. I repeat as best I can in pitch and length through my snorkel and she returns the same call. I repeat as does she. We volley a few more times and she comes over swimming up my side to look deep within me, curious pacing me. Is there more to say than we are communing…playing…appreciating each other and the wonders in this life. I’m aware of my body.

Whale Song

I feel vibration. I have chicken skin. I dive down and wait for the water in my snorkel to quiet to listen…yes…whale song! The humpback whales return here for 5 months. Their song becomes the background and texture to our underwater experiences. Bellowing, whistling, growling and creaking, even howling, I live in wonder and expectation of a breech….many breeches… 36 and counting one day, 60,000 lbs. of sparkling black and white brilliance lifting off for joy reaching and twisting for the sky with a slow motion deafening splash to their ocean domain.

The mile .2 marker is before me. I will turn back towards the entry now with a bit of sadness. This feeling is one I experience often when I ‘stop’ or leave the journey. It’s only a definition, semantics, I tell myself remembering I may find my dolphin friends again today. The fish ball may not have wandered so far beyond my path home. There may be a sea turtle in the puka by the ½ mile marker. In my experience life is territorial. Ocean life is, as well. Turtles sleep in favorite caves. Some sharks sleep on favorite shelves in rock formations. The harlequin shrimp pair cohabitate in that elkhorn coral head by the mooring. The frogfish is outside of the south arch opening. The cusk eels live out beyond Hoover’s. These are secrets of the trade.

Manta Rays

We water guides delight in sharing with our guests where our friends live and come by for a visit. Not far now I see the beach. My land life and schedule begin to push into my water world. In my peripheral I see some movement coming my way. A manta emerges from the blue field. It’s a male, black and white with dapper airbrush grey markings on their shoulders and wings and an individually unique Dalmatian spot patterning on their underside.

The male has two appendages, claspers at the base where his tail connects the cephalic fins at either side of the mouth unfurl as the manta opens for a possibility for plankton as he glides along the coastline water column. A long-nosed butterfly fish darts in and out of the reef, all black endemic to this island. He’s a local. We become local by showing up, taking part, being visible, part of the community. It happens after a while. I lost a little polish and gained some wrinkles and sunspots all in the name of seeking Paradise…Kona Paradise.

Soul Retrieval- Jan Salerno

Still A Guest of the Island

I’m still a guest…we all are and I seek to give back to the blessings of this island. By actualizing the Peace and Blessings…being sacred stewardship…to be the wise elder caretaking the children of this land honoring the ancestors, Gods and Goddesses midwifing our personal rebirths and births through gifts given. Hawaii has not disappointed the nature of my calling.

The kokua and aumakua, those that came before, the ancestors and spirit guides honored here are nearby, participating, available and accessible. Know this, the veils here at times gossamer, cloudlike allow for time travel truly, glimpses and feelings into a multi-dimensional expansive experience of life. Timelines can and will adjust, life’s issues can be released given away to the more expanded deeper sense of self, to the breaking of a perfect wave. The Hawaiian pantheon of gods and goddesses dance and drum in the golden cumulus, on the snows on top of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, in the deep azure seas beating wave upon wave against the lava shorelines. Chants and music can be heard in the breezes through the ruffling of palm fronds while old growth forest birdsong pierce the armoring of a technologically inundated society. All evidence abounds to those lucky that ask. Nature’s biggest and brightest, Cetacea are alive and well here, protected, breeching, birthing, singing their songs. Legions of dolphin- Spinner, Spotted, Bottlenose and Rough Tooth, run north and south along the coast, leaping, chasing, spinning and lovemaking. I too, run with dolphins.

Water Is My Operating Place

Water is my operating place…my element. My passion the sea. Immersed from an early age in synchronized and competitive swimming and diving, to scuba diving in Southern California and a teen crewmember, to deepening of my Marine Biology studies. Exploring the worlds oceans sailing, teaching and guiding dive travel have afforded me a unique broad view. The ocean needs our attention and calls us to attention. I saw in the 60’s on my dive boat the unconscious mass pillaging of the seas. Jacque Cousteau’s Calypso crew became a model for the dream I wanted to live.

The message of sustainability is evidenced in our choices. Hawaii is surrounded by water, pristine, wild and accessible. How can I model a best action leading to a best possible outcome in my choices? I model sustainable behaviors i.e.: by not walking on the reef, using reef safe sunscreens, educating people on our Marine Mammal Sanctuary guidelines. I swim and snorkel as a lifestyle to know and learn from my local and global environment. I am now a responder with Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network volunteering to assist our wild cetacean. I choose to eat a plant-based diet so as to not be part of the overfishing industry even in a place so abundant. My Hawaiian life has afforded me the space and opportunity to recreate my dreams in alignment with my passions. I aspire to leave only ripples on the surface.

I have filled out here… healing, actualizing and manifesting beyond the memorabilia of hula gals and silk leis. Creation in action… what’s next??

Jan Salerno-2016

Dolphin Whisperers Hawaii 

Jan Salerno and Julie Ziemelis

Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • Todd says:

    That was so enjoyable, exciting and inspiring to read as someone about to move to this paradise in just over a month. It’s hard to believe I get this opportunity to experience such wonder, such diversity, such beauty. But I am most thankful for the reminder that a sustainable lifestyle must accompany me in order to honor this place, its wild inhabitants, its first occupants. Thanks for sharing!

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thanks Todd for your comment! I am passing it along to Jan so she can see it had an impact. Good luck on your move!