Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shark at Kona Pier

 Swim Lane off Kailua Pier in Kona
We have been swimming from the Kona pier for over a decade and never seen a shark. We have seen sharks while snorkeling in Maui and encountered them in the Caribbean, but never in Kona.   So we  were surprised to see a shark in shallow water directly under the swim lane while snorkeling toward the King Buoy with friends last week.
Shark under swim lane near Kailua Pier in Kona

In our other shark encounters, the sharks were in deep water if stationary or they were moving and gone quickly.  Swimming above a stationary shark in shallow water was different and very unnerving.
Bait ball next to Kailua Pier in Kona
We continued on our snorkel and followed our friends to an immense bait ball nearby.  A bait ball is a tightly packed formation of fish.  It is often spherical shaped, but in this case it was a massive, long rectangle of fish.  Some sources say these formations last only a few minutes, but the frequent bait balls near the pier in Kona remain intact a long time.  Some claim that bait balls are a defensive maneuver of small fish.   Perhaps the nearby shark had just finished a huge meal.
Bill ("dolphin-man") swimming through the bait ball

We swam further out to see if we could get to a pod of dolphins swimming near a half dozen tour boats in the bay. The dolphins had left by the time we got there.  
Dolphin tour Boats in Kailua Bay across from Royal Kona Resort
But we made it to the 1500 meter swim buoy.
Buoy marking swim route in Kailua Bay, Kona

We were hoping the shark would be gone by the time we swam back and after a  quick look around there was no sign of the  shark.  Relieved, we slowed down and rested a bit by treading water.  Our friends were distracted with something under us, so we put back on our masks to check it out.  
Shark underfoot in Kona
Directly below our feet was the shark lying on the sand.   “SWIM!”  We all made it back to the pier very quickly.  Though many of the swimmers were talking about the shark on the pier, most were not worried and jumped right in.

Our friends were convinced the shark was just sleeping or sick.  Whatever brought the shark to our swimming lane, we can no longer say that we have never seen a shark in Kailua Bay.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Are you waiting too long to Retire in Hawaii?

This year we have noticed more retirees remaining on Hawaii Island since the departure of the snowbirds last month. They really stick out with their coiffed hair, tweed caps, black silk shirts, long pants, and patent leather shoes.  We see them struggle to carry their garbage out, argue with the gardeners, and frown at the food displayed in our local grocery store. We never see them at the beach, lying in the sun, or laughing.  These recently arrived 70-something year olds may have waited way too long to retire to Hawaii. 

The transition from “mainland clothes” to sandals, shorts, loose shirts, and wild hair takes a while.  It takes a while for the rejuvenating effects of the sun, warm weather, local food, and laid back lifestyle in Hawaii to increase your energy and health.   It takes a while to realize that nobody cares what a big shot you were on the mainland and that yelling gets (at best) no response in Hawaii.  It takes a while to focus on Hawaii’s beaches, sunshine, and peacefulness and give up on the mainland’s addictive foods, restaurants, and malls.

Recent studies have shown that retiring earlier leads to living longer, in contradiction to older studies that showed working longer correlated to living longer.  Researchers at the Tinbergen Institute at the University of Amsterdam compared Dutch men who retired early (age 55 instead of in their mid-60’s) and found that early retirement decreased their chance of dying within the next five years by 42.3%. The researchers concluded that lower stress levels contributed to the lower mortality rates.  Stress in the workplace, since the economic downturn, may be partially responsible for the higher death rate of older workers.   However, observing the difficulty new elderly residents are having adjusting to retirement, waiting too long to retire may also be part of the reason. 

The growing fear among Boomers of running out of money before they die is creating another type of stress.  Money stress keeps people in stressful jobs longer and counters any health improvements a Hawaii lifestyle might offer.  Retiring earlier brings you the mental and health benefits of the relaxed, laid back Hawaii lifestyle sooner.

We believe that money is not a good tradeoff for health which led to our move to Hawaii Island   in our 50’s.  Watching the elderly newcomers hobble from their newly purchased Hawaii condos, we wonder when they will switch to clothes more suitable to a tropical island.   We wonder if they will stay long enough to get any of the benefits of living in Hawaii.  

You need a minimal level of health to walk, swim, lie in the sun, and enjoy what Hawaii has to offer.  Waiting too long makes it more difficult to move across the ocean and create a low-maintenance, tropical lifestyle.  So, if you are dreaming about retiring in Hawaii, don’t wait too long.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Iodine and the Ocean in Hawaii

We have always been drawn to the ocean and mesmerized by the crashing waves.  Living in Hawaii, we look forward to our daily walks along the Kohala Coast; after the walk, we sit close to the crashing waves and feel invigorated and revitalized as the salty mist covers our bodies and fills our lungs.  Our recent research into iodine has given us new insight into our addiction to ocean surf.  The ocean’s mist contains iodine, which affects the body’s metabolism (which the thyroid gland located in your neck controls). A shortage of iodine causes cold feet, hair loss, constipation, depression, dry skin, fatigue, poor memory, throat pain, muscle weakness, cysts, and worse in adults. In babies and children, iodine deficiency is catastrophic to the brain’s development.

In his book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, Dr. David Brownstein, claims up to 40% of Americans have thyroid disease from lack of iodine, which every cell, muscle, and organ in the body depends upon.  A minimum amount of iodine was added to table salt to prevent goiter (the swelling of the thyroid) and mental retardation in babies.  However, iodine deficiencies in the US population has been increasing dramatically with low-salt diets and the use of bromine (in flour and soft drinks) and fluorine (in toothpaste and drinking water) which both block iodine absorption in the body.

In 1829, a French physician Jean Lugol discovered that a solution of potassium iodide and iodine treated infections and numerous other ailments.  Different tissues and glands in the body require iodide or iodine or both, for example, the thyroid needs iodide (which was the form added to salt to prevent goiter) whereas the breast and prostate glands require iodine.  "Lugol's Solution" was a major breakthrough in the medical world and widely prescribed by physicians before being replaced by prescription drugs.  The use of iodine to treat breast cancer dates back to 1896.  It has been known for 5 decades that low iodine levels result in cysts and ultimately cancer in the breasts, ovaries, uterus, and prostate where iodine is concentrated.  Iodine is also required by the gastrointestinal tract, salivary glands, bones, and body fluids.  Without sufficient iodide, the thyroid won’t stimulate the mitochondria to produce energy (ATP) and muscle soreness, fatigue, and brain fog takes over.

Our discovery about iodine explains why we feel so wonderful after our daily pilgrimage to the Kohala Coast.   The ocean is unique in that it has both iodine and iodide in the mist, both of which are needed by the body and are absorbed by the skin. There are lots of ideal places under coconut trees further from the surf,  but our favorite place is out on a point where the waves crash around us. Though we are getting iodine and iodide from the ocean, seafood, and even local grass-fed beef, we have found new levels of energy and concentration since starting supplements of J.CROW'S® Lugol's Solution of Iodine 2%.