Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gorgeous weather in Kona right now.

We had a real rainy morning the other day, but it cleared up nicely and has been beautiful since.

We've had a bunch of good diving. In the past week or so the divers have seen frogfish, white tip reef sharks, dolphins on the dive, leaf scorpions, eagle rays, flame angels (I found a new spot with a trio - A customer had mentioned seeing them near a certain spot a couple winters back, I think I found the spot - they're highly territiorial so I expect to be able to find them from here on), several groups of psychedelic wrasses, garden eels and other goodies. Vis has been outstanding, with upwards of 120'-150' + on a couple of days earlier this week.

We're off to do a night dive tonight. There haven't been any mantas for a couple of weeks, but there was one last night. I'll give the divers the option of trying the manta dive or another spot for a regular night dive.

Here's a shot of a diver taking photos at an archway at Kaloko where the tiape like to hang out.



Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cleaner Shrimp

Here's a rather close up view of a cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)I took the other week. These guys usually set up on a rock somewhere and then fish (usually eels, triggers, puffers and such) will come in for a cleaning where the shrimp crawl all over them and pick parasites off.

We've been real busy. Right now I've got a family who's finishing up their Open Water referral dives with us. It's great fun. Our boat is basically full all week, with 2 seats available on the evening of the 31st.... Spring break is keeping us hopping.

I thought I'd pass along a litte something I just discoverd about blogger in case you haven't noticed. At the bottom of each post I'm now allowed to label the post. If you click on the label, you should get other posts with the same label to show up. For instance, this post is labeled shrimp, if you click on it other posts I've given the shrimp label should show up for you. Eventually I'll go back through the last year and a half of posts and label them all. Time to hit the hay, I've got to get up at 6 for tomorrow's charter.



Friday, March 23, 2007

Hawaii Scuba Diving blog... Sailor's eyeballs.

Sailor's Eyeballs? What in the heck is that all about? Well, look at the picture to the right and you'll see a shiny bluish thing, that's a sailor's eyeball, also called "sea pearl" by some.

I first heard of these things watching a Jacques Cousteau special when I was a kid, and forgot what they were until I noticed one on the reef years later diving out here. Turns out they are fairly common. What's interesting about them, from a biological standpoint, is that they can range upwards of nearly 2 inches in diameter, yet they are a single cell organism - the world's largest single cell organism. Most single cell organisms are going to require a microscope for you to see, not this thing.

They are shiny and fairly tough/firm to the touch. They sort of remind me of some sort of oily plastic bubble stuff you blew on a straw when I was a kid in the early 60's.

We did the "no" manta dive tonight. Bob said the plankton was pretty poor, but the night dive itself wasn't all that bad. We had some pretty rough water the last couple of weeks, combine that with bad plankton levels and it's not a real wonder they weren't around.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Trumpetfish of Hawaii

Heres a Trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinensis). They come in a variety of colors, often in grays, browns and reddish colors, and the yellow color is fairly common also here in Kona.

We've been busy with charters the last several weeks. It was gorgeous on the water today, a nice changeup from the south winds we've been having for the past two weeks or so. Today we did Golden Arches and the Aquarium/Skull Cave/Suck 'em Up dive sites. They saw two whitetip reef sharks, along with outerh good stuff, on the last dive. We've actually managed to see hammerheads a couple of times the last couple of weeks (Pat got a mediocre pic of one swimming away I may be able to con her out of) on charters, unfortunately for me I was topside during those particular dives.

Just thought I touch bases, I seem not to post all that often when we're busy.



Saturday, March 17, 2007

One very beat up moray eel.

I found this guy under a rock at about 103' today. It's lower jaw was missing the tip and split lenghtwise down the middle. It's amazing he's still alive, although I'm not sure how long a fish like this can hang on with that kind of damage. Not sure if it got into a serious tussle with another eel or what.

Sorry for two visually morbid posts in a row... I'll try not to do that again next post.



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Warning, this post contains a graphic visual death scene...

We did cancel today's dives. I only had to get part way into town to know it wasn't worthwhile. On the way into town you could see the water was fouled (actually, it looks a very pretty light blue at a distance) from the highway for a couple hundred yards offshore to where there was nothing of diveable depth available, and there were wave sets that were miles long in length coming in from the west. It's apparently coming down fast on Oahu right now and hopefully will be flat and diveable in the morning tomorrow here.

So today was a day to relax. Pat had the day off and we went into town to dump a load of greenwaste. Kona has a spot where you can drop off yardwaste (unfortunately it's not really in a spot near where anything grows, and things grow like mad here, so it probably down't get as much use as it could if it were near where people actually have green stuff to get rid of) and they compost it and offer free compost to the public. Anyway, we take a truckload in every so often. When we get to cutting things it's easy to get 4-5 truckloads of stuff and hardly make a dent in the jungle surrounding our yard. On the way we stopped at the recently opened (for the second time, they got shut down for not having proper permits earlier) Hooters to try 'em out. I'd say they have better than average chicken wings, and the other stuff we had (burger, cobb salad)was OK, but for a couple bucks more the food is better down at the Hard Rock in both Pat and my opinion.

I forgot to mention something about yesterday's dive... we still have whales hanging out off Kona and yesterday while the divers were down a group of whales came within a couple hundred yards of the dive site. There was a calf breaching... neat. I hadn't seen a calf that small (I'm guessing maybe in the 15' range) breaching before.

Now on to the gore... Last year some time I wrote about how ants had taken over the electronics in our microwave and were turning it off and on at will. This year our oven started not working properly. Pat was wondering what was going on and I took a sniff and said it smelled like a dead reptile (remember, I spent more than a decade in the pet biz). We've had geckos fry a laser printer, the mother board of my computer, and generally make a mess of things with droppings, so it was time to order a new controller for the oven.
Luckily Pat grew up with a dad who could fix anything and she learned from him, so we could avoid having a repair guy come out and replace it ourselves... so a couple hundred bucks in parts later here's the old part.

Yuck. These little guys like to wedge into tight spaces, sometimes it gets the best of them apparently. Anyway that's my latest story about the pleasures of paradise.



Hawaii surf news... it's up!

We've had a bit of a spell with sloppy water because of southwest winds brought on by a cold front hanging out to the west, well it's here and it's bringing some big northwest and west swells in with it. We cancelled last night's dive after it was getting real messy on yesterday's day dives, and it's likely we'll have to cancel todays diving (we'll take a look at it when we get down to the water this morning). Tthings are supposed to calm down by tomorrow morning and then back to our usual weather pattern by the weekend.

Here's the clip of the manta from the day dive last week I mentioned earlier. We have a spot that where manta rays occasionally visit for a cleaning. They'll come up to the reef and find a cleaning station with a cleaner wrasse on it and then circle around slowly in an expanding circle in an attempt to pick up even more cleaner wrasses which will work over the manta ray picking parasites off it. When you find this, all you have to do is stay put and you'll have a manta circling you for a while.



Monday, March 12, 2007

Fun day on the water today.

The surf was down a little initially when we went out for today's dive charter, it picked up later in the day though. Hopefully our south and southwest winds will leave soon, it's been since last Wednesday that we've had them and that's kind of an unusually long spell.

I'll keep this post short, I've been getting wordy lately... Here's an adult Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri). I don't recall having a picture of a juvenile, but they look totally different as far as color goes. I'll make a point of taking a shot of one some time in the future.



Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A stinker of a day... 310 bucks for 23 gallons of gas was only the beginning...

With every business, there are good days and there are bad days. The other day was expecially poor. Luckily, those days are few and far between, and I've seen other companies have their share of "bad" days too.

.....So I'm fueling up the boat, and when I walk around the back of the boat I heard a "tink". I looked around and didn't see anything on the ground but did notice I'd walked over the parking lot drain grill. After I finished I paid and went back to the truck to take off and found I had no truck key... apparently it was 7 or 8 feet down in the parking lot sump along with several inches of oil and other yuck. We couldn't get the grill up, looked like it hadn't moved in years, so it was time to call Bob and let him know what happened and let the customers decide if they wanted to cancel the day or stick around. They were all good humored about it and waited for the locksmith to do their thing (darned electronically chipped keys these days) and eventually we were off, way late.

Anyway, we had wierd water conditions for the last week or so. That particular day was one of those days where nobody cancels the day dive, but the night dive might be cancelled. We have about a 2 month span where we can potentially see swells from north, west and south, right now we seem to be seeing all of them at the same time, which is rare. We set up at lone tree arch, around which several other dive boats set up, and did the dive. Then it got really sucky... the boat had trouble starting. We've already just replaced the entire fuel system, and most of the ignition/electrical system just before that. I saw a bunch of corrosion on the coil terminal connections and took them apart, replaced a connecter, wire brushed off a bunch of junk and put 'er back together and it started. I left it with the mechanic after the day's washdown and he wentthrough a few things to make sure it's OK to go out. One of the passengers for the next day was on and he'd been a customer for a few years, he's real cool about such things and said he'd go out to act as a guinea pig customer, and I'd spoken with our other passenger for the day and he was willing to see what happens... turned out OK. We've had charters since that haven't been so eventful thankfully.

Anyway, the surf conditions have been much less than ideal the last week or so, even with that we've still had pretty decent viz on the dive sites. The water temperature seems to be hanging out right at 75 or so.

So here's a picture of a Yellow Margin Moray (Gymnothorax flavimarginatus). They are our largest commonly seen moray, however we do have a really large one called a Java Moray that we see on rare occasions.



Monday, March 05, 2007

Coris Wrasse.... one heck of a colorful fish.

Good Evening,

Boy have we been busy on the boat. I had the fuel tanks replaced and was basically down for a month, but turning down little business, and suddenly were going out every day. I've had one day off since the 15th of last month between the two jobs, and only 3 days off on the boat since then with the next off day on the boat tentatively scheduled on the 16th.

We've been seeing lots of neat critters on our dives, sharks (mostly sleeping reef sharks, but the divers saw a hammerhead off Kaiwi point a couple days back), rays (we had one at a cleaning station for several minutes today), scorpion fish, turtles,etc. I saw a thumbnail sized yellow frogfish the other day but didn't have the camera... bummer, left it at home. Today we hit the site with another group and I looked for it and it wasn't there... also a bummer, but the manta ray coming in for a cleaning more than made up for it. I took a poor quality video of the manta circling that I'll post later.

The leg's feeling much better, but I did notice it when I dove off the boat to set the mooring, nothing major though. It's just nice to be back in the water.

The underwater photo above is of a Yellowtail Coris Wrasse (Coris gaimard), I knew them as a Red Coris Wrasse back in my aquarium keeping days. These guys are tough to get a picture of usually, they tend to zip off just as you are taking the shot. This one was fairly cooperative though, Pat may have an even better picture. The colors are a bit "hot" on this one, I had a rather dull looking photo and then hit
"auto levels" in Photoshop and this came out. It probably could be toned down a hair, I think the red on the top fin and the blue dots are almost too brilliant, but it's pretty darned close.

Kona diving conditions? It's been excellent as of late. Good visability, slightly warmer (I saw 75 the other day, but my computer read 73 today) than earlier, and pretty calm waters. The weather has been great.... sunny days with rain showers in the evenings up mauka. Rain almost never affects the diving conditions here as we have no rivers or streams on the west side.

That's about all for now.



Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hawaiian Spanish Dancer Nudibranch

So last night we did the night dive and came across a Spanish Dancer Nudibranch (Hexabranchus sanguineus). These are the lagrest nudibranchs found in Hawaii. I was quite excited and pulled out the camera and took a few shots.... I could tell they turned out looking at the monitor, but it got better.... I saw something else.

Spanish Dancers can grow to up to at least 15 inches according to John Hoover's book "Hawai'i's Sea Creatures" (linked on the sidebar of this page, it's the best invertebrate book you'll likely find on Hawaiian critters). They have fairly large eye stalks (the two red things on the lower part of the picture) and an impressive frilly gill structure (nudibranch translates into "naked gill"). Occasionally, and this is the really exciting part, they pick up hitchhikers. If you click on the picture above to view it in larger mode and look at the frilly gill structure, you might notice something slightly out of place with a large white patch... look closer....

Just in case you don't see it, here's an enlarged view of the gill structure section of the same photo.... WOW!! (although I wish it came in clearer). Do you see it now?

My camera isn't really set up to take shots at night. If I find something I want to take a photo of I have to shine a light on it at a distance that won't scare it and then try to hold the camera still enough to get a focus lock and hope the flash is enough to light up the whole subject. In this case what I noticed in the gill structure was an Imperial Shrimp (Periclimenes imperator). These shrimp tend to match the color of the nudibranch and are not very common. We see similar shrimp on other critters (sea stars and urchins and such) but they're usually much smaller. Here's a closer photo I took, gotta warn you it' not in focus though, it was practically running from my light.

As for the rest of the dive, we had one manta for the entire dive (showed up right under the boat and swam along with us and a group of the next boat towards the dive site). The water temperature read 73 degrees on my computer, but it seemed warmer than the 73 I dove in a couple of weeks ago (this was my first dive since my little calf boo boo).