Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hurricane Daniel was a non-happening in Kona

Just a little update on Hurricane Daniel... it dissapated into a tropical depression and caused rain on the east side of the island and on some of the other islands. As much as 2 inces of rain fell in some parts of the state yesterday as a result of the ex-hurricane.

Kona was sunny and hot for the day yesterday, the day it affected everywhere else.

We did manage to get some nice rain today later in the afternoon in Kona, but that wasn't part of "Daniel" and didn't effect the diving. Hopefully we're settling down into our regular summer weather pattern - sunny in the morning with clouds building on the mountains and occasional rain in the late afternoon/evening, with most of tghe rain being near the mountains. We had nice diving conditions for the charter today, doing dives at Golden Arches and Turtle Heaven with a group doing a combined Open Water coruse and refresher.

The photo above is of a Fourline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia). These little guys are tough to get a picture of. They tend to dart into coral heads when you approach. This particualr individual was relatively tolerant of me being near, I was able to snap off a few shots and this one was probably the best of the bunch. My first shot of one of them.



Funky Kona Manta Ray night dive video

Here's a short video of the Kona Hawaii manta ray night dive off the Kona airport that I shot underwater with my Olympus sp350 on Tuesday night. We work with a local videographer who takes video of our divers and snorkelers (it is broadcast quality stuff, not like what you see here) and I thought I'd poach some of her light and see if my little point-and-shoot digital cam could take the video. Turns out I was too far back and it doesn't do anywhere near as well in low light as a dedicated video camera. After a little tweaking in quicktime, I was able to at least bring up the brightness to where things show up. Pardon for all the psychedelic colors, it's not like that in real life.



Friday, July 28, 2006

Lots of manta rays right now. Water temperature is 79 in Kona.

Been busy on the boat the last little bit. We did a double yesterday, with dives in the morning and then the late afternoon dive followed by the night manta dive. We has the same thing on Tuesday. I have a pool session with some open water scuba students scheduled for later this afternoon.

Here's a little video I took of a manta ray on a day dive a couple weeks back with my Olympus sp350. We see these guys on day dives on occasion and we'll have divers oh so excited to have seen them. At that point we highly suggest they try the night dive. Seeing a manta in the daytime doesn't even compare, they're just swimming by. At night they are swimming to you. I do have a little, very dark, video I took of the night dive I'll post later. It'll give you an idea of what I'm talking about.



Monday, July 24, 2006

It's "Hurricane Season" again in Hawaii.

As I type this, there is a Hurricane sitting about 900 miles to the southeast of the island. It's losing power. For the most part, hurricanes seem to peter out before they make landfall here due to hitting cooler water.

The current hurricane, Hurricane Daniel I believe, is expected to maybe make it to the islands downgraded as a tropical storm. In a way, many here are actually hoping to see it bring the rain, it's been kind of dry. I just noticed that things were starting to show some signs of dryness in our area. Normally the water's a degree or two warmer by now and we're seeing convection rains in the late afternoon 3-4 days a week at our place, we've really only had one decent rain the last several weeks.

Since I've been here in early '99, hurricanes have had little to no effect in the Kona area. There've been two or three that brought in surf and winds to the other side of the island. We've got a 14,000 foot mountain in the way that seems to act as a bit of a barrier. I'd heard that Kona never actually saw winds and major weather disruption from hurricanes in all of the last century... just big surf on a couple of the biggies (Iniki comes to mind) that swung by from the south. Those particular hurricanes went northwest after rounding the Big Island and caused troubles on Oahu and Kauai.

I'm just posting this because every year I get questions about how the hurricanes affect our diving. They haven't at all in the 7 seasons I've been here. Kona is probably one of the places (tropical destinations anyway) I'd least worry about hurricanes ruining a trip.

Here's another photo forwarded to me by customer Mike from Texas. It's of a pair of Ghost Shrimp, I don't really have any decent shots of my own of these critters so I thought I'd post it. Ghost shrimp are a pretty good sized shrimp that tend to set up shop in one particular spot for several years. We've got a few spots where we can pretty much nearly guarantee you'll see them. Notice the little fish in the photo... I'm not exactly sure what they are, but they are common in dark holes, one of these days I need to make it a point to find out what they are.

Have a nice day,


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Kona Whaleshark Photos, taken on scuba.

Customer Mike from Texas had the presence to take a couple of shots while the whaleshark swam overhead at a dive site known as High Rock yesterday. That's Bob heading towards the shark, gives you a decent idea of how big the shark was.



Hawaii reef dives, manta diving, frogfish, whaleshark... We've done it all the last couple of days...

A lot of scuba diving has happend off the Wanna Dive boat the last couple of days. We've managed to see most of the "rare" stuff... Or should I say my crew has anyway. I've been playing Captain for the most part.

Yesterday we had a newly certified couple join a group of four that's been diving with us. Newly certified divers can be fun to dive with... occasionally you get those cases of "beginner's luck", yesterday was no exception... part way through the dive Bob looked up and a WHALESHARK was swimming over their heads. The first diver up was one of the newly certified divers and he was extremly excited, going on about seeing a shark that was bigger than the boat.... for those of you who aren't familiar with whalesharks, they are harmless plankton feeders and can grow to 40-60 feet long - they are HUGE. Now Bob has well over 4000 logged dives and this was the first whaleshark he had seen on scuba ever... they got it on thier first try. It's all downhill for them from here on.

Last night we did the manta dive again. My regular nights are Tuesday and Thursday, but we had a family who wanted to go out on Saturday and it worked for us, so why not. They were all snorkelers so I figured I'd leave Bob to captain and I'd go down and play with the camera. We had several mantas, and when I went to turn on my camera I noticed it was slightly floaty, rather than slowly sinking... I thought that odd 'til I went to turn it on. No batteries. Oh well, maybe next time. Unfortunately, last night would've been a great night for the camera as there were a couple of squid that came by the dive site and swam with the divers and snorkelers. That's the first time I know of that happening. I've never seen them yet, I'd already surfaced after finding I had no juice to the camera.

Here's a fish that is kind of special. This is a Saddleback Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ephippium). They are one of our more ornate reef fish. I used to get real excited seeing them, but I seem to see them more often these days. They are one of our larger butterfly fish and tend to hang out in pairs. If you see one, another is usually nearby. I did a short captain's dive between dives the other day at Golden Arches and there was one of these right under the boat. The one wouldn't have anything to do with me, but it's mate seemed to not mind me, even seemed curious and kept coming near. I managed to click off 4 decent shots, all just mostly out of flash range, but with enough light to give it a chance with photoshop. This guy turned out with realistic color after a few adjustments.



Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Great diving conditions in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii right now


Been real busy the last couple of days. Spent all day on Monday working on the boat, basic maintenance stuff. Did morning and evening dives yesterday and another two tanker today. We're quite busy 'til around the 4th of August at this point.

We had a freak short term temperature drop. When Bob first jumped off the boat yesterday morining he came up saying man it's cold. Everyone was reading 75 or so on the dives all day sites 4 miles apart, strangely enough it was 79 today, same computers at sites within a couple hundred yards from the spots yesterday. Not sure if the remains of Hurricane Bud (? not sure if that was the name), a hurricane that ended up east and north of the islands and did little but affect the tradewinds for a couple days, might have brought us some cold water for a day or two?

There were 17 mantas at the night dive last night. two of our passengers were doing it for their first time, the other four have been diving with me since my shorediving days and had done the dive a couple times over the years and had one and none show... everyone was quite thrilled this time.

Today we did the first dive at Hoover's, the northernmost Kailua Kona area mooring, just off the north end of the airport. It's a great dive, highlight of the dive was seeing a couple of mantas. On the second dive we did the spot right outside the harbor that can be such a great critter site. Anthias, cleaner shrimp and banded coral shrimp, eels, as well as a couple of eagle rays, were the highlights of this dive.

Here's a neat little Toby, sort of out of focus, that I took a picture of a couple of years back.



Friday, July 14, 2006

Big numbers of rays are apparently at the Kona manta ray night dive again....

This morning's e-mail said there with something like 18 rays on the dive last night. I haven't been out on the night dive this week, do have a trip or two scheduled for next week though, hope it holds up.

We've had a couple of days off, so it was time to do some important maintenance work. I had the carburetor overhauled and gave the engine a tuneup, as well as the more frequent stuff (oil changes, etc). Everything runs great right now.. then again, it's a boat, I should be good for another good length of time though.

Here's a little video of yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger longirostris), along with a few yellow tangs and such, on the reef. They spend much of thier lives poking their beaks into coral heads looking for tidbits to eat. This particular species is quite common here, but apparently they don't see it much on Oahu - they consider it to be "rare", they more often see Forcipiger flavissimus which is considered to be the common longnose butterfly. In this video you will also see the black phase, which is pretty much only found in Kona. I'm not sure that they've figured out why they turn black at times.



Sunday, July 09, 2006

Scuba diving conditions are great in Kona... Lets take a dive...

I was out playing with my Olympus sp-350 underwater on a fun dive (day off today) at the Place of Refuge. Here's an example of the video. The camera does video with quicktime output, I compressed it quite a bit for the internet so the quality is not as good as the camera normally puts out... but it's good enough to share here.

This is just a short glimpse of a typical shallow reef in Kona. In say 5-20 feet of water, lobe coral is our most commonly found coral. Most of the corals in this video are lobe corals.



Friday, July 07, 2006

2 manta rays on the night dive off the Kona airport tonight.

We had 2 manta rays for pretty much the entire night dive tonight. We had a family of divers on board and they really enjoyed the mantas. Last night there was just one hanging around the periphery of the dive site, but our divers and most of our snorkelers saw it.

This morning we only had two divers on board. Some companies here will flat out cancel with just two divers, but I figure if you book 'em you might as well try to make the best of it. It can make for a fun easy day, and it's a great deal for the divers, who get a private boat for no extra charge. I led one dive and Bob led the other. We saw all sorts of stuff on my dive... divided flatworm, fried egg nudibranch, gold lace nudibranch, strawberry nudibranchs, fisher's angelfish, a gorgeous 16"-18" Yellowstripe Coris (Coris flavovittata, I sure don't see any yellow on these guys though), finescale triggerfish, milkfish, flagtail tilefish, razor wrasse, dragon and rock mover wrasses, great arches and topography.... too much stuff to list.

I haven't carried the camera the last couple days, I may get out on my own in the next couple of days to try some more stuff. Here's a pic of a rather large Yellow Margin Moray (Gymnothorax flavimarginatus). These guys get good sized, in the four foot range and quite thick bodied, and have a reddish or yellowish trim around their tails.

Bob and I have been running doubles (both day and evieng charters) quite a bit the last little while. It catches up with you, especially because it's tough to wind down after the manta dive. I usually hit the hay after 1 am on those nights (it's 1:30 right now) and still have to get up at 6 am or so to start the next day. Two and three days of consecutive doubles really makes me feel old... I keep thinking I'm about half my real age usually. I've got nothing scheduled for tomorrow so I may be able to sleep in a bit if the internal clock doesn't get me up.



Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Typical Hawaii weater report....

I saw this on a message board. It's Triumph the insult dog doing the Hawaii weather report. Some may find this offensive, my apologies in advance to those who find this in bad taste. I figure they could run this report much of the year and it would be accurate.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

So I'm liking my Olympus sp-350 still. This is an underwater photo of a strawberry nudibranch. I've tried to get a picture of one for years with 3 different cameras and underwater housing setups and this is the first one that I've taken a good photo of this critter with.

I'm getting closer to getting a good picture of a Flame Angel (Centropyge loriculus). They are very timid and tend to dodge cameras... this one was oh so close to a good shot.

Kona diving conditions have been very good as of late, with good viz and warming water, but the surface chop has been up so the boat rides have been a bit bumpy on occasion. We had a passenger feeling a bit queasy a couple days back and we told her the proper remedy and she tried it last night, which was bumpier yet, and felt great. If you have EVER had sea-sickness issues, or even if you don't know due to lack of sea time, do take Bonine (generic active ingredient is meclizine hydrochloride) or the less drowsy Dramamine (same acitve ingredient) for it - A couple bucks investment can relive a world of misery. The dosage practically every dive operator I've been around recommeds is usually one the night before the dive and then one two hours before the dive if it's a morning dive, or one in the morning and then one about 2 hours before the dive if it's an eveing outing. Taking a pill right before you get on the boat will do pretty much nothing, don't blame the meclizine, it takes time to get into your system and work.

Gotta go buy me some meat for the grill, later.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

2 manta rays at the Kona manta ray night dive last night.

We took our group out last night and enjoyed seeing 2 rays. This morning I had three on the boat and did a couple of nice dives. Tomorrow we're pulling a double again with a two tanker in the morning and an afternoon and evening dive later in the day.

I didn't take the camera down today, and I sort of wish I had for one particular thing. I found an interesting nudibranch I hadn't see before, segmented like a blue dragon nudibranch, but it definitely was not a blue dragon nudi. It was nowhere near as frilly. Oh well, maybe I'll see another sometime in the next 7 or 8 years.

Herre's a photo of a Titan Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis cacopsis) that was tucked away in an archway. The flash really brings out the colors on both the scorpionfish and the archway. They're tough to see. I had to point at it for almost a minute from just a few inches away and trace the outline with my fingers for one of my divers to realize what it was... not uncommon to have to do, they can be that hard to see. I suspect several people checking out this blog will take a bit of time before they realize that much of this photo is actually a fish, they are very easy to miss as you swim by.



Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lots of great weather and great diving....

Been pretty busy the last couple of days, with back to back charters day and night on Thursday and Friday, and a night trip tonight.

The mantas disappeared for about 5 days a couple weeks back, but have been present the last 5-7 days. On Thursday we had a quite pregnant "Bertha", one of our largest and best known mantas, for the entire evening. Last night we had two rays at the site.

The day dives have been quite nice. I've been seeing a bunch of dwarf morays, 5 total on my last 3 daytime dives. I don't know if there are a lot of them right now or if I have just started seeing them. These are a very small moray, roughly the size of a pencil, sometimes a bit larger.

This is a picture of a Redbarred Hawkfish (Cirrhitops fasciatus). They're fairly common but we generally don't pay all that much attention to them. Hawkfish either don't have, or don't use (I'm not certain which), a swim bladder. They spend thier lives perching on coral heads waiting for dinner. If you approach them slow and quietly enough you can get a pretty close shot. This one came out exceptionally clear, I really like the tassels on the spines of the dorsal.