Bay of Woofs - Vanua Balavu, Northern Lau Group, Fiji
22 June 2012
Many years ago I worked with a quirky British guy named John Wilkins. Amongst other things, he taught me to appreciate classical music. He also introduced me to a rather unique word - "woofy". I think it was his own invention and he used it at every opportunity to describe something he liked. A delicious sandwich could be woofy. But an attractive woman passing by on the sidewalk could also be woofy.
I bring this up because we now are in the Bay of Islands - a large indent on the shore of Vanua Baluva in the Northern Lau Group. It is a very woofy place, in more ways than one. Yes, it is spectacular with its deep turquoise water, myriad of mushroom shaped islands and dark, mysterious caves. But it is also full of woofy noises that sound unexpectedly from time to time as if from small dogs that are lost in the woods. Sometimes one woof is followed by another. With the lower the portion of most islands consisting of bare rock, the woofs echo about the place in a strange and haunting manner.
We were told by a Swiss cruiser that the mysterious sounds come from air trapped in the small caves, forced out by ocean swells. Having heard one woof ring out in direct response to another we have dismissed this theory and now believe they are produced by some sort of bird with a one syllable vocabulary and powerful lungs. We'll ask the next locals we see and try to solve this mystery.
News Flash: Kiwi cruisers we met on a bush walk have now confirmed the sound comes from Fijian wood pigeons that are similar to those we saw on Stewart Island in New Zealand. The mystery has been solved but we have yet to see one of the elusive feathered woofers.
The kayaks are in the water. It is time to go explore the islands in the bay!