Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kona Hawaii octopus scuba diving underwater video

Ok, stupid post title, I'm just giving the search engines something to digest. I keep forgetting that I do have some short videos I can post... I'm running out of newer photos.

The surf is quite up today. It'll probably be up again tomorrow and then will hopefully settle back down for a while, we've had a cold front hanging off to the northwest.

Octopus are neat critters. Lots of DMs/dive guides will grab these guys 'til they're inked out and then hand them off the customers. I prefer to just lay low and sit back a few feet to see if they'll give a show. It's neat how they can change their textures and colors practically instantly. The video doesn't give it justice, but it does give you an idea of what they do.

Good evening,


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Madagascar Day Gecko - now common in Kona.

I took this shot earlier today. We've been living in our house since mid-'99 and we didn't see any of these little critters the first couple of years. Now they are everywhere, with resident geckos in every room it seems.

Hawaii has lots of geckos, with most of them resembling the common "house gecko" you can pick up at most pet stores for a couple bucks. At some point somebody introduced the day gecko on the island and they have been spreading ever since. The day geckos are rather aggressive feeders, and not only compete for food with the other geckos, which generally come out only at night, but also eat the other geckos. We're hearing a lot less gecko barking (the original gecko barks/chirps often at night) around the house these days.

Unfortunatly, no matter how cute these guys are, they are still one of the many non-native invasive species than now thrive on the islands.

I've added a link on the right to my
litte webshop at Cafe Press where I'm putting up some shirts and stuff with pictures on them. Take a gander at them, I'll keep putting up more photos/products - who knows, something might be interesting. Purchase at your own risk, I'll be picking up a few items for myself to see if the quality's Ok, if not I'll yank 'em.



Gorgeous day in Kona today

Winter is arriving, and it's noticeable.... Brrrr.... we've been getting down into the mid to upper 60's at night where we live. It's nice and dry though, and we're still getting into the 80's during the day.

Today I'm going to head to the boat to do some cosmetic work, needs it, I'll be working on some things along those lines while we're slow in early December. We've been diving a bit since my return from the mainland. 3 manta night outings and several day trips. Latest water temperature readings had pretty much everyone coming up with 81 degrees.

We had another 5.0 aftershock last week. I was in the truck and didn't feel it, when I pulled up to the gas station they had me wait because they had to reset the pumps. As far as I know there was no damage from this quake. Everyone is still a bit on edge after the big one last month. 2 nights ago somebody started a rumor that a big quake and tsunami was predicted for the next early morning, apparently this rumor somehow had thousands of people falling for it - people were buying emergency supplies and even evacuating coastal homes in some cases.... Earthquakes CAN'T be predicted - it was all a hoax. The state is now trying to track down how the rumor got legs and actually spread across the state in a few hours.... probably some blogger or a radio guy having fun.

Above is an underwater picture of some small tiape that have taken to hanging out at Garden Eel Cove.



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy thanksgiving to all.

Today I was doing some academic work with some students. Afterwards I met Pat down at the Kona Brewing Company for some pizza and a porter or two.... yum, yum. It was pouring down rain when we left the Brewpub, one of those rains where you get a half inch in about 15 minutes. We kind of needed it.

Last night we did the manta ray night dive off the airport. Nice night. They'd been predicting 10-15 foot swells from the northwest off Oahu and the other islands the last day and a half, but we were pretty much shaded from that swell by the other islands and only had some slight rollers. There ended up being very little plankton at the dive site for some reason, so the mantas that were there weren't hanging around much, just doing flybys. They still had them off and on for the better part of 45 minutes so everyone had a good time, maybe not as nice a time as the night before when there were 13 mantas and plenty of plankton... the show can be pretty much determined by presence or absence of plankton.

Guess I haven't posted the current Kona water temperature since I've been back, mainly because I've been playing Captain 'til my cough from the cold goes totally away. Bob and the customers have been seeing 79-81 degrees, depending on who's computer, during the dives this last several days.

The pic above is of an undulate moray being cleaned by a banded coral shrimp. Once you find a spot where one is being cleaned, it's quite possible that you will see it, or other morays, there on a regular basis soliciting a cleaning.

I've got the day off tomorrow, we're going to try the buffet at the Sheraton Keauhou for the holiday - I haven't eaten there yet so it'll be interesting to see how it compares with others we've eaten at over the years.



Lipitor and scuba diving.... Can health issues affect your diving?

One of the things we run into in the dive business, especially as instructors, are health concerns. When we hold any kind of a class, from introductory dives to ongoing dive education, there will be the usual littany of waivers, as well as a medical health history questionaire. Be prepared to fill one out whenever you take a class.

In an ideal world, everyone is perfectly healthy and has no health care history at all, in reality, especially when approaching middle age, that's usually not the case. When you take a look at the health questionaire, don't be afraid of it, fill it out honestly. Some people will take a look at the form, see that they have one or more "yes" answers, as say diving can't be for them... don't fall into that without actually consulting your physician first. A reasonable level of physical fitness is always something to strive for, but you don't necessarily need to be much of an athlete to enjoy scuba diving. While scuba diving may be contra-indicated for some conditions, there are many that your physician may sign off on. In my case, I really hadn't been into a physician for a checkup as an adult and I went in for one when I was going thorugh the dive leadership program... good thing, we found my cholesterol and blood pressure were off enough that we needed to take measures. I'm better off for it and my physician cleared me for diving. That doesn't mean if you are taking the proper drugs you're OK to go... Any decisions as to your scuba diving future should be between you and your physician, so please fill out the forms honestly, if there are concerns go to your physician with them, you could be doing yourself a big favor and be cleared to participate at the same time.

Your instructor or dive shop should have the proper forms for your physician to sign off on. If you are thinking of taking classes it wouldn't hurt to get the waivers and questionaires ahead of time, especially if you happen to have a doctor's appointment in the months ahead of when you are looking at taking the course.

I thought I'd post this because, being in a tourist destination, we got a lot of people who want to do this as a last minute thing and get hung up on the medical questionaire. Some won't bother and just not try, but many will and it ends up being a lot of faxing back and forth to get the required signatures... just a little heads up that you can take care of it ahead of time (also, I made a great sloppy sandwich for breakfast).



Monday, November 20, 2006

Final Texas / Florida trip report.

Here is Wyland putting the finishing touches on his manatee mural at the dive trade show in Orlando. Now that I'm back and life is more back to normal (still have the cold though) I thought I'd give a final report on my trip... nothing too exciting, mostly food oriented....

We started out in Texarkana, Texas to visit my wife's family. It was nice to see them. We had a number of meals at "Fuad's Restaurant" next to the Walmart on the Arkansas side of Stateline Avenue. Good food. Fuad seems to be the type of guy who gets to know his customers. From what I can tell, along with his regular restaurant business, he has a rotating group of regulars who get together for lunch and the occasional dinner to eat family style. This was kind of interesting for me as I've never been to a restaurant that did this, and being a guest of regulars I got to sit in. Everyone would get together, chit chat for a while or have a drink, and then Fuad would start bringing out plates of food and everyone would share... hot wings, chicken, tilapia, steaks, calamari, ahi, a veggie or two and a couple of other goodies were seen over the course of several meals we ate there, with usually 4-6 entrees and a veggie or two at each meal. It was quite interesting. It was mostly men, so lots of football talk (considering the season not surprising) and work related talk. I did get to talk with one gentleman who formerly was a commercial diver - working at depths of up to 500' and basically living in a hyperbaric chamber for a week at a time - in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It was interesting to hear about that aspect of diving, it's a tough and shortlived career for most. Well, Texarkana has grown in the years since I was last there, and apparently Texas A&M is putting in a campus there so there'll be lots of growth to come. I could bore you further by posting the obligatory photo op in Texarkana... standing in front of the post office with one foot in Texas and one in Arkansas... but this post should punish you enough.

We moved on to Orlando after 5 days to go to the dive show. You've probably heard more than enough of that.... so I'll talk about FOOD...

OK, the very best meal was one I wish we could do here. We went to "Texas de Brazil". Many of you in big cities will be familiar with this or similar restaurants, but for us people in smaller or out of the way locales you might not be familiar with this. It was a Brazillian style "churrascaria" (evidently Portuguese for barbeque). These places are GREAT for meat eaters. This one had a great buffet of salads, soups, apetizers and spiced meats and cheeses and such, but the highlight of the meal is waiters dressed as gauchos carrying 2'long skewers of hot-off-the-fire MEAT. Top sirloin, bacon wrapped filets, bacon wrapped chicken, lamb chops, pork roast, flank steak, lamb roast, sausages, and maybe one or two other items. The leg of lamb was the only thing we had not worth writing about (thus I'm writing about it), everything else was excellent. It's a never ending parade of cholesterol... I was in heaven.

Another pretty good meal was had at Bahama Breeze (Pat's fish was a bit overdone, but the skewered chicken and beef are very worthwhile) and we were referred to a great sports bar (JB's Sports Restaurant) by a bellhop when we asked if there would be anyone in Orlando who might be able to free up a screen for the Oregon State/UCLA football game last weekend. If you are ever stuck in Orlando and need to see a particular game, these guys can set you up if it's on somewhere. I'm sure we had other good food, but I was overwhelmed by Texas de Brazil. One comment though... the Houston airport has pretty darned good food. All airport food selections should be this good, heck, I wish we had some of those places in Kona.

After the show we went to the Hardrock Hotel for a couple of days and a chance to visit the Universal Parks. I've only done a few of the 6 Flags parks over the years, but these were a big step above in overall appeal. Rollercoasters frankly scare me, and Pat loves them... so we had to do them. First we did a coaster called "dueling dragons". This is probably the most topsy turvy coaster I've ever done, and it was a pretty long coaster... I was worried for my physical health for about the next 45 minutes after riding the green one as I was woozy and out of sorts for way too long after stepping off the ride. I never did get up the nerve to ride the orange one (they intertwine). I did later on ride the "Hulk". It was a good coaster, a bit taller and more spectacular looking, but not nearly the heart stopper (we almost, in my case) the other one was, and I felt fine right off the bat after leaving the ride. Spiderman in 3D is probably the best overall ride in the parks... WOW, it's basically the most impressive ride of any type I've been on. Shrek in 4D is very, very entertaining, Terminator 3D is very entertaining, and the Mummy is the best dark coaster I've ever done (I had to do it and Spiderman twice) and was also a very entertaining themed ride. The water rides at the Jurassic park section and cartoon oriented sections were also fun.

We did manage to get out to Daytona Beach for a short while. Nice miles long beach, but also miles and miles of buildings, sorry bit it's not my idea of paradise.

It's great to be back home, but we seemed to hit a cool spell in Texas and Florida on our trip so the return felt really hot the first couple of days.

Sorry for the long boring post.



Sunday, November 19, 2006

A swarm of manta rays at the Kona manta ray night dive tonight.

I just got back from the night dive. There were only three of us operators out tonight, but there were plenty of mantas. I stayed up top, but was still able to see 2 or 3 mantas on the surface throughout the time my divers were in the water. Bob guestimated there must've been a dozen or so mantas at the site, it'll be curious to hear the videographers report in the morning to see how accurate that count was... it's been hopping lately at any rate.

Here's a shot of a Flagtail Tilefish (Malacanthus brevirostris) I took last month. It's the only shot of one of these guys I've been able to get show up, they tend to dart around when you approach, often diving directly into the sand or under a rock if you get too close. Even if you can get them to stay still, because they are lightly colored and often against the sand, it's tough to expose them close to properly... this shot was more pure luck, with a bit of photoshop thrown in, than anything else.

Bedtime for me. Later,


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Back in Kona again.

I'm back in Kona again after 2 weeks on the mainland. This is probably my last extended absence 'til some time in '08. I managed to arrive home with the usual post-travel cold, yuck. We got home around 9:30 pm and I was back at the boat at 7am to make sure it was running for our charter the next day.... boats aren't like cars where you can park them for some time and they start right back up - they should be, but it never seems to be the case. It started right up though, we'd had some stuff done while I was gone so that undoubtedly helped. Sometimes it takes a battery charging and brushing all the electrical contacts to get 'er going after a layoff - corrosion seems to be one of the problems with boats and saltwater.

Yesterday's charter was fun. We had a couple on who are doing their Advanced Open Water certification. Bob got to do the diving. I'm itching to dive, but I'm not going to risk my ears by diving when I'm a bit stuffy. I got a reverse squeeze several years back that kept me out of the water for a month, I don't want that to ever happen again. Later today we're doing a "drift" dive and following it with the manta night dive.

The underwater photo above is of a divided flatworm that I took back in early October. These critters are always a nice find.



Friday, November 10, 2006

DEMA - the scuba diving trade show in Orlando

I thought I'd talk about what I'm doing this week and show a couple pictures of the show. Every year there is a trade member only show which this year being held in Orlando. Last year it was held in Las Vegas, and has bounced around in previous years. Apparently they have settled on Orlando and Vegas on a rotating basis from here on out.. for now.. because of lower attendance in other cities. It's in Orlando this year and next, then should alternate thereafter.

Most of the large scuba manufacturers have booths at the show as it is a good time to show dealers new product as well as place orders for the upcoming year. The major training agencies are also in attendance and hold seminars and updates.

The show is also becoming heavily focused on travel, with most of the tourist oriented dive resorts and Countries in attendance. You'll see and hear entertainment ongoing throughout the show. It can be a pretty glitzy, and occasionally loud, event. Many of the visitors beareaus from various regions send performers, so you can hear/see mariachi bands, steel drum bands or Indonesian dancers from time to time during these shows.

For me it's a chance to catch up on continuing education, some business seminars, and a good change to keep current with what's out there in equipment. Florida is a long way from home so I suspect I won't be back 'til it gets to Vegas in a couple years.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wyland painting manatees at DEMA in Orlando november 2006

I hope posting photos of someone famous doing their work is kosher. I'm at the big Scuba diving trade show in Orlando for a few days. Wyland, a well known aquatic wildlife artist (many will know of him from his "whaling wall" murals in many cities) was there doing a smallish mural for the show.

We saw him laying down the first black for the background in the morning, a couple hours later he'd lined out the manatees (first photo) and by day's end he was at the point of the second photo.

Orlando was quite nice today, Kona-like weather, it'd been a tad bit chilly and breezy earlier compared to what Pat and I are used to in Kona. Now that I'v figured out how to edit and reduce the resolution of photos on my laptop, I'll try to take some more pics in the next day or two to give yuou an idea of what goes on at the trade show.



Monday, November 06, 2006

So where do people who live in Hawaii go on vacation?

Most go to Las Vegas. There's actually a rather large number of Hawaiians living in Vegas, and I believe it is the number one destination for local residents going on vacation.

In our case, we're in Texarkana, Texas, visisting family for a few days and then heading along to Orlando to go to DEMA, which is the big Scuba Diving trade show.

Today was another pants and shoes day, that's 5 in a row, which is a lot of pants days for someone who is used to wearing shorts and sandals. I think the last time I wore pants and shoes an entire day was two years ago on another mainland trip. Last year when I went to Vegas I lucked out, it was warm. It's funny how you get used to wearing nearly nothing over time - I've got a buddy who went to the mainland a few years back and tried getting a job... had to wear a shirt with a collar. He told me he lasted 4 hours and 19 minutes, something like that anyway, quit and came home to the Big Island. The shirt was freaking him out, hadn't worn one in 15 years or so prior. We head to Orlando, and more Hawaii-like weather, tomorrow.

The picture above is of a Yellow Eye Tang, the Hawaiian name for this fish is "Kole". I used to see these guys in the aquarium trade. They are vegetarians with small rasping teeth and eat hair algae ravenously, yet generally won't bother thicker, plant-like, multicellular algaes, so they are popular in reef tanks.



Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm wearing pants, shoes too.

OK, now I know the title of this post is kind of wierd to most of you, but if you live in Kona, you can go a long time without wearing pants or shoes, especially if you work in the recreational watersports field. We spend most of our time wearing shorts or swimsuits with sandals or crocs and will generally go inndefinitely without wearing pants and shoes, other than to do yardwork or go out to a fancy meal... but eventually you visit the mainland, and it's cold.

I figured going to Texas wouldn't be much of a chill, but it's been cool the last couple of days. I could have broke out the shorts and crocs this afternoon, but I figured I could live with the shoes and jeans another day.... supposed to be in the mid-70s tomorrow so I'll be back to my normal slovenly dresswear. Yeehaw!!! I'll talk more about my little trip tomorrow.

Here's a nudibranch I took a pic of a few weeks back.

My wife (the Texan who starts picking up the drawl nearly instantly just putting a foot on the ground in this state) suggested the following as a closing when I asked what they say in Texas instead of "Aloha"...

.... Y'all come back now, ya hear!