Monday, August 25, 2008

Here's an underwater video of squid on the manta ray night dive in Kona Hawaii. It was taken with a Canon G9 camera...

Bigfin Squid in Kona Hawaii from Steve on Vimeo.

Hi there, here's a short video clip I took on the night I got the underwater photos of the squid I've posted earlier. They change color almost constantly. They seem quite curious about the goings on of the night dive. I took a bunch of pictures in a few minutes time on that dive, and a few of them turned out, so I've got a bunch of color variations on the picture's you'll see on the blog.

I wish we could find these all the time on the night dive, they seem to be showing up more often as time passes, but for now it's really a special event for us.



Now that's a houseplant!!! So how many of you have a ficus tree in your home or office?

We've had them in our place over the time. One of the things we didn't realize before we moved over here was how many of what we consider to be "house plants" grow wild here in Hawaii.

One of the common ones around is the ficus tree. We have a pretty good sized one in our backyard that I've been interested of getting a shot of with me under it... but then I saw one at a house of a person that Pat knows and knew I just had to get a shot of it. That little blue blob under the tree is me. Considering that I'm a bit over 6 feet tall, that makes the tree fairly good sized.

Ficus trees are in the fig family, and many of the figs banyon. They'll send down "air roots" which eventually hit ground and become a secondary trunk and spread the tree out. This picture actually doesn't do the tree total justice as I'm standing in front of it from the narrow end, it's trunked out more in the other direction.

This is the same type of tree that many of you may have sitting in a corner in your home or office.... just think, with a little care you could someday be living the life of the Swiss Family Robinson!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

Bob, Cathy and I have been keeping busy with charters.

The day of the manta ray charter that I took the recent squid photos I just blogged we also did a morning trip. It was a rather spectacular morning of charters according to our passengers... schooling barracuda, a manta ray, 5 or 6 eagle rays, and 30-40 dolphins swam with them for several minutes.... all on the first dive. The second dive was at one of our favorite divesites, often called pyramid pinnacle or harlequin or pinetrees pinnacle or any other number of names, and it was almost a letdown in comparison - and it's a great divesite.

Kona conditions report - Water temps have been fluctuating in the 77-80 degree range the last couple of weeks, kind of odd to see that much fluctuation in any direction but up this time of year. The vog has generally been pretty low the last couple of weeks and we've had some gorgeous weather.

Here's one of our resident geckos. This one likes the coffee maker, and we can find it laying on top of it much of the day and evening.



Friday, August 22, 2008

Welcome to the Kona Hawaii squid blog...

Ok, so it's not a squid blog... but I did get a bunch of photos on the manta ray night dive last night. I'll be able to keep showing squid from time to time 'til I get more regular stuff in.

These shots were taken with my Canon G9 in a Canon WP-DC21 waterproof case. I didn't use any external strobes or lenses, just the base kit. They were taken at night using some light from other divers along with a handheld LED light, primarily for focusing purposes as the onboard flash is pretty much responsible for the lighting showing in the photos.



p.s. I haven't shown my favorite squid shots yet.

Today's picture says a lot for how the day's diving was....

It was a very good day!!!! More later... Been busy for several days now and pulled a double today, it's after midnight and I have to get up at 6 for tomorrow's charter.

This critter is a Bigfin Squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana). It's the first one I've ever seen. They've been showing up on the manta dive from time to time, and this time I saw it and had a camera in hand... keep an eye on the blog for more on these critters.



Saturday, August 16, 2008

Honey, someone's stuffing tic-tacs in the electronics...

So I'm turning on the light in the bathroom and I hear a rattling noise from the switch... hmmmm, what could that be. Well 20 seconds with a screwdriver reveals this...

Gecko eggs, lots of 'em. We've had an explosion of Gold Dust Day Geckos the last year or two in the house, and we've probably got these in lots of our sockets. Looks like time for a cleanout. Still don't quite know what the rattling was from.



Friday, August 15, 2008

Seven-Eleven Crab.... Hawaii....

I was looking back through some photos I've taken in the last several months and realized I've never posted a picture of a Seven-Eleven Crab (Carpilius maculatus). These guys can get to a pretty good size. People don't generally harvest these critters, but I've heard rumors the big claws are pretty good eating. We see them from time to time... we've seen them out in the late afternoon prior to reef dives in a few spots, but most of the time they're holed up somewhere. Supposedly they have 7 or 11 spots on thier back (this one you can see a bit of a twelfth, close enough I guess).



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Best hamburger in Kailua-Kona Hawaii?? I went to Splasher's Grill for lunch today...

I went downtown today. I've often wandered past a restaurant that has been voted in the local paper as having the best burger in town. I'm usually kind of dubious of those reader poll "best of" reviews, as in the past I've seen some pretty mediocre hamburgers win the award. Anyway, I went in to them to give it a try.

Splasher's Grill is located across from the Kailua sea wall, it's kind of tough to top the view from thier seats. The pic at the top is my attempt at blending 3 pictures into a panorama (this is my first attempt, didn't quite work but you get the idea). Splasher's has several hamburgers to choose from, all feature a half pound of angus beef, along with your choice of fries or salad. Well after I ordered I realized they have spicy waffle cut fries as an option (not sure if it's extra or the same price as regular fries), I'd have gone for that if I knew as they're one of my favorites and not found commonly here. I chose the day's special, a mushroom avacado and chedder burger at $8.99. . While waiting for my burger I was treated to a large pod of dolphins across the way in the bay. There were plenty of ooohhs and aaahhs as the dolphins came quite close in today. The burger was just dandy, and between it and the fries I was quite filled. Splasher's burgers run in the 9-11 buck range and well could be among the best on the west side of the island.

For more restaurant comments/reviews, click on the "restaurant review" link in the labels below.



Monday, August 11, 2008

Which Hawaiian island is the best for scuba diving? Is it Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Kona side of the Big Island?

I may be biased, I'll bet you can guess my answer....

So I see this question come up occasionally on the scuba diving message boards. There's usually a bunch of responses by people who've only dove one island pushing for that island. I think in reality, diving almost anywhere in Hawaii beats the heck out diving in a lake or quarry somewhere back in North America.

I have done some limited diving on Maui and Lanai and Oahu, and I get a lot of customers coming here after diving on the other islands, and while the other islands do have their strengths, it's tough to match the diving we have here in Kona. I'll make a brief case...

Geologically the Big Island is much younger than the other islands... we're talking millions of years, not hundreds or thousands... so we've got fewer rivers and streams for runoff (Kona has NO permanent streams) and less sand to cloud things up when a storm passes by... so the day to day viz in Kona is tough to match as rain does not affect our visability here. Less sand means fewer beaches, so that can be a problem for some people, although we do have some very nice beaches here if you care to look for them, but rocky shores means clear water, which is great for the diving crowd. Being geologically younger, erosion hasn't had the time to shrink the island and create a widespread fringe reef, but that means at nearly all of our dive sites you can find both shallow reef AND dropoffs into deep water without having to cover a lot of distance... this can be great fun for divers who like a variety of terrain.

The Big Island also has more healthy reef surrounding it than the other islands... This recent report has 57% of the Big Island surrounded by reefs, the bulk of which is on the Kona side, while the other islands are averaging about 20% (I'd have to find another link on the report to show you that, and I'm feeling lazy today, it's out there in all the NOAA links).

Water condition-wise, Kona is unique in the Hawaiian islands in that we have a couple of great big volcanoes that block the tradewinds. What that does is basically gives us relatively flat water all day long, whereas in many diving areas elsewhere in the state you've got the trades kicking up wind chop and swell by noon or earlier that affects the viz and can make for a crummy boat ride back to port. I'm not saying we don't have our crummy days, but you can count on big wind several days a week, not several days a year like here, in many parts of the state. In winter months the other islands to the north and west of us often block out a good portion of the winter storm swells, which can make for OK to great diving conditions here while others aren't so lucky.

Dive operator-wise, Kona has a bunch of good ones. You should be able to find one that meets your needs. If you're looking for a 6 pack boat (6 passengers max, we'll go with as few as two on day dives) with plenty of shade, generous dive profiles and bottomtimes, a sandwich lunch along with snack crackers and trailmix and beverages, as well as very experienced dive guides that know their critters, please consider us and click on the Wanna Dive links in the sidebar of this page.

I could go on and on about why the Big Island is a great place for a vacation... and maybe some day I will... but that'll have to be saved for another day.

I was looking through a few photos I took a couple months ago and I'd forgotten I'd taken this one... it's cool if you know what you're looking at. Since we have dropoffs at most of our dive sites we'll see the deep water predators such as Jacks and Uluas come into the reef looking for prey. This Bluefin Trevally (Caranx melampygus) is activly soliciting a hunting partner - the small Whitemouth Moray (Gymnothorax meleagris) underneath him. The eel was cooperative, although I didn't manage to get a picture of it out actively hunting with the trevally (they move too quickly). When these two species work together, they'll swim along at the same speed and the eel will go through holes to potentially flush something out(or in from the trevally). We see several species of fish hunting together here on a reasonably frequent basis. Multiple species of fish hunting together is referred to as nuclear hunting.

This post sort of says "advertisement" all over it, but I really do believe Kona's the spot to dive in Hawaii if you want to dive. We had a couple on the boat last week who were quite quoteable (they referred to my boat as "beautiful" and "10 times way better than the skiffs we usually dive off of in the Carribean" - also they were very complimentary of Cathy's guide and critter finding skills). They'd done a significant amount of diving in the Carribean and had dove Maui several years back and were apparently quite unimpressed. Well, they were here for several days and decided to give Kona a day of diving... afterwards they'd said the dives had completly changed their opinion of Hawaiian diving. Kona's definitly got some great diving.



Sunday, August 10, 2008

We did a three tank dive day today in Kona.....

I mentioned the other day that I was coming into a lull and I'd try to catch up on posting during then, well, the lull basically turned into one day of trying to re-repair the damage I did last month to our water line (read the archives, I think it was the post on July 4th of this year) and then I got more bookings. Today we did a three tanker with a fun group. We dove sharkfin rock, Kealakekua Bay and driftwood. Highlights of the dives were... frogfish on two dives, a manta, tinker's butterfly and all sorts of other good stuff.

Water conditions are darned good right now, it's the time of year we look forward to.

This photo is of the mouth end of a Horned Helmet Snail (Cassis cornuta). They spend much of their day mostly buried, with the tips of their shell exposed... you can see it's "mouth" here. When something tastingly smelly goes by they'll come out of the sand (kinda slowly, they're not speedsters) to eat it. To see a pic of one stalking a collector urchin click here.



Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gorgeous hard coral reefs in Kona Hawaii...

Hi again,
Most of the shots I post are macro shots of individual critters, I rarely show the reef. Kona is very nice in that it has lots of healthy reef near shore that we can explore.

I liked this particular lobe coral in that it's a huge head and has the large antler coral growing out of the top of it, you don't see other corals growing out of lobe corals all that often.



Handmade clay orchids in Kailua-Kona Hawaii...

OK, so the picture is of an anthurium... we don't have much blooming in the yard right now.

The other week someone called me out of the blue to ask if I knew where the shop with the lady in Kailua who makes handmade clay orchids was. I don't get down to Alii drive all that often so I didn't know and wasn't any help with that question. The other day Pat and I went to town for happy hour at Don the Beachcomber's (good mai-tais and pu-pus) and went for a stroll down Alii drive afterwards. We walked by the shop and decided to go in. Well, the clay orchids are pretty much amazing. They look like the real thing. They're made out of a soft polymer or something rather than what we'd traditionally think of as clay, so they almost feel kind of real too. We were quite impressed.

I thought I'd give that business a plug as it's not the typical touristy type of business you see all over the place. If you are ever wandering downtown you might want to keep an eye out for the place just to take a look at their orchids. Here's their website, you can check out their gallery to see the type of work the owner does... very lifelike.

Interestingly enough, the shop is run by a mother/son team (as far as I can tell in one visit, sorry if I'm wrong) and the son is someone I've run into at the boat ramp on occasion. He's a marine researcher/diver and videographer and we know some of the same people. If you visit them, tell 'em you found out about them from Steve from Wanna Dive... they'll actually have a clue as to who I am... it never hurts to build up some good will.



This last week was shark week for Wanna Dive in Kona I guess...


I wasn't actually on any of these dives as Bob was leading them at the time and I was Captain up topside, but this week Bob and his divers saw a tiger shark in the distance on one dive outside the harbor, a smallish whaleshark overhead on another dive at a spot long known as "outhouse" and occasionally mentioned as "thunder reef", and then topped it off yesterday with a 10-12 foot hammerhead at "golden arches". It was a good week for the shark fans. I lucked into my second tiger sighting ever just a few weeks back, but it's been a couple of years for me for both hammerheads and whalesharks.

The picture above isn't from the other day, it's of a whaleshark (I figure about a 26 foot long one) I saw on a dive at "sand chute" a few years ago. Nobody had time to get any pictures on this weeks sightings as they were gone in short order. Whalesharks can get HUGE, but are completely harmless as they eat plankton, although they can handle something sardine sized, and are basically filter feeders. Tigers and hammerheads are always a thrill to see. The tiger I saw a couple weeks ago was about as close as I'd care to have it (say 20-25 feet) but I've swam very close to a hammerhead (say 5' or so) before - they're gorgeous animals.



Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Whew, busy, here's a quick underwater photo to tide you over while I'm not posting much...

Here's an adult male Spotted Boxfish (Ostracion meleagris). I've got a lull coming up in a few days, I'll put in an extra post or two then.