Hawaii photographer finds art in massive waves.Photographer Clark Little is known for his stunning images from inside some of the most powerful and dangerous waves on Earth. The Oahu native just released a new book that chronicles years of capturing the beauty of the ocean. (June 9)APA couple from Alameda County, California has filed a lawsuit against a Maui-based catamaran tour company for being “abandoned” in “open ocean” during a snorkeling tour and forced to swim to shore by themselves, according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Feb. 23.As experienced snorkelers who have visited Hawaii before, Elizabeth Webster and Alexander Burckle were on their honeymoon in Maui and booked the Lanai Coast Snorkel excursion from Sail Maui for Sept. 23, 2021. They are suing the company for $5 million for emotional damages of swimming back to shore in rough waters. “The emotional distress is in the moment, not knowing you’re going to live or die. And it’s not just you out there, it’s your newlywed spouse too,” Jared Washkowitz, an attorney for the couple, told USA TODAY. Tips for a great, sustainable excursion: When can you see humpback whales in Hawaii?Hawaii sees riskier beachgoers: How to safely enjoy the ocean on the islands”They are actually really traumatized by it,” Washkowitz said. “They’re getting psychological treatment and have physical symptoms of anxiety.”According to the Sail Maui website, the tour launches from Lahaina and stops at “multiple snorkel sites” along nearby Lanai’s coast looking for spinner dolphins.The lawsuit alleges that at the first snorkeling site, the captain briefed passengers on safety precautions but didn’t mention “snorkeling boundaries” or a “specific return time.” After about an hour of snorkeling, the waters became “more turbulent” and “choppy,” and the couple started swimming back to the boat. After about 15 minutes of “aggressive swimming,” they noticed the boat was moving further away and came to the conclusion it had left without them, according to the lawsuit. They “began signaling distress and calling for help,” their lawsuit alleges.According to the lawsuit, another passenger noted the couple was further out at sea from where she was but was told by the crew that the head count was correct. The crew did three head counts, the lawsuit says. The initial two head counts came up with 42 out of the 44 passengers present, but the last head count reported all 44 guests were accounted for. “(The boat) wasn’t organized, people were moving around while they were counting,” Washkowitz said. Sail Maui did not respond to request for comment. Since the couple was pursuing the boat heading to a second stop, they were being led out to deeper ocean. The lawsuit says the couple estimated they were in “6-8 foot rolling surf” and with no other boats around.”They feared that drowning was imminent,” the lawsuit says. “Plaintiffs realized the Vessel had left them and was not coming back for them, and they decided that their only option for survival at that point was to return to shore. Plaintiffs were extremely fearful and nervous about the decision because they were told in the safety briefing explicitly not to swim to Lanai and that shallow reefs were in the area.”The distance to shore was about half a mile, which the couple swam. Once there, the couple was “fatigued and dehydrated.” They also had cuts from the reef, Washkowitz said. Webster wrote “SOS” and “HELP” in the sand and the couple waved palm fronds at passing boats to try to get their attention. Eventually, they flagged down a local couple in a truck and used their cell phone to call Sail Maui, but the company was unaware anyone was missing from the charter. Sail Maui set up arrangements for the couple from Lanai to Maui via ferry and met them at the harbor on Maui. A Coast Guard investigation into Sail Maui cited the company with negligence, and the company now makes “vocal contact with each listed passenger before departing,” the lawsuit says. “The main thing is that these kind of companies that operate throughout the islands, most of their customers are people visiting who may or may not have a lot of experience in the water, who may not be familiar with the water,” Washkowitz said. “Even for local people who are used to being in the water out here, being left out that far, it’s scary. For people who are just visiting, it’s very traumatic. (These companies) are responsible for those people.”The court’s initial hearing of the complaint is set for April 24.