Saturday, February 27, 2010

Here's the 5:45am NOAA tsunami warning supplement for the state of Hawaii...

1:30 The harbor's been reopened apparently. Boats are returning. Other than the evacuation and business closures, the tsunami was pretty much a non-event here in Kona.




12:03 Finally, found a live stream... you have to click on the live streaming link.


Update11:41am. The radio station I'm listening to is reporting the water is receding in Hilo Bay around Coconut Island.


Update 11:05am HST Nothing so far according to the radio station overlooking Hilo Bay. The county water supply has turned off the water in the evacuated areas to prepare in case anything happens.


Update 10am HST: I'm down at the dive shop across from Honokohau Harbor. Met up with a lot of fellow boaters getting their trailered boats to higher groud. Looking out at the ocean it's full of boats sitting a half mile out or so ready to ride out any surge if it occurs, looks like a big regatta. The shoreline drops off deep rapidly around the Big Island so if you get out a half mile you can be sitting in 2000 feet of water, most tsunamis are not more than a big long bump in the water in those depths but become very dangerous when they hit shallow water.

The tsunami sirens have been going off hourly all day. We talked to some friends down in Napo'opo'o, which is on the water, that said their sirens weren't working... not good if this occurs in remote communities.

It appears there was a pretty orderly evacuation of downtown Kailua. I came in to town at 8:30 to get the boat and traffic leaving the area was minimal. By the time I was leaving the harbor with the boat they had the area blocked off and were only letting people in to move their boats.


They do state to expect wrap around on all islands. I'm glad I don't live on Hilo side at this point, gonna be hectic over there this morning.

6am and the tsunami sirens went offf.... so'd the neighborhood dogs...

Well, I've always wondered how long the sirens went off in case of an actual tsunami threat. 5-6 minutes worth. They test the siren system at 11:45am the first weekday of each month for about a minute or so... I've heard them once or twice when they've gone off accidentally at oddball hours, that usually causes a stir.

Latest news is they're expecting some wrap around on this side of the island, sounds like a cancel for our charter. It's not worth taking a chance of something unexpected occurring.

Big earthquake in Chile. Tsunami currently expected to hit Hawaii about 11am to noon...

Something woke me tonight and I'm up a couple hours early and saw the tsunami warning. Supposedly they're seeing 4 foot deep ocean waves in the Pacific, which means a tsunami is expected once the wave hits shores. All the arrival time listings are 2119z - whatever that means - I finally found a report that gave a 11:19 Hawaii time estimate.

The report said our civil defense sirens to go off at 6am and again 3 hours prior to arrival.

I've got a charter today... not so sure I'm going...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scuba diving with wild spinner dolphins in Kona Hawaii...

Went scuba diving... dolphins swam by from Steve on Vimeo.

It's uncommon, but every now and then we're lucky enough to have dolphins swim around us on dives. A couple days back we were out on a dive up at Makalawena and the moment we entered the water we were greeted with the sounds of whale songs. A couple minutes later I heard the dolphin sounds and looked over my head to find this pod approaching. On the first clip the dophins were right there, this is zoomed out wide, they were probably within 5-8 feet of me at one point. It was a pretty good sized pod and I was lucky enough to be carrying a camera, I think this is the first dive shots of dolphins I have.

We've been real busy with charters this month, busiest February in at least a couple of years, if ever, for us. Next month is looking good at this point and Pat and I are working on a plan to open the shop portion of our Kona dive business for regular hours on weekends starting about the middle of next month. It'll take a while, but eventually we'll have the shop open full time - it's by appointment or luck at this point as we're open around our charter schedule.

I'm in the shop today for a half day, I've got a manta ray night dive night dive meeting up at 3:15 this afternoon. Last night they apparently had 10 mantas up at Garden Eel Cove, hopefully it'll be another great show tonight.



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Great scuba diving in Kona Hawaii today....

Today was a blast. We went up to Makawena, a site way up north by the cinder cone you can see along the highway near the resorts, and had a very nice first dive. That area was practically inundated by whales, and we had whales swim very close to the boat at the dive site. During the dive the divers were treated to a group of dolphins underwater - I've got video, check back on the next post.

For the day we had some nice sights... archways, lava tubes, a whitetip reef shark, dolphins underwater, scads of whales above water, a barracuda and much more.

Here's a picture of a juvenile Dragon Wrasse. These guys are very tough to get a good shot of, this is about as close as I can get most of the time. They tend to flitter and drift with what little current or surge there is so they're always on the move. Very cool looking.



Friday, February 19, 2010

Endemic Hawaiian Longnose Butterfly Fish... They're not just yellow, there's a black phase too...

Longnose butterflyfish from Kona Hawaii from Steve on Vimeo.

Here's a short clip of Hawaii's endemic version of the Longnose Butterflyfish. They're real unusual in that they have a black phase (this one was especially black, lots of time you can see some yellow mixed in). I'm not sure that anyone's actually figured out why they'll sometimes turn black. We see the black phase in Kona on a fairly regular basis, but they're uncommon on the other islands from what I understand.

Tonight we're doing the manta night dive again. Most of the last couple of months we've been making the trip down to the Sheraton for the manta dive, the mantas kind of scadoodled from Garden Eel Cove when the surf came up and the plankton level dropped for some reason. I suspect they don't care to eat a lot of sand that gets kicked up by heavy surf - that's as good a theory to make up as any, so I'm sticking with it. We've had a week and a half or two without major northwest swells and apparently they're back again... 10 last night... Yahooo!!!!! Most of the dive operators really prefer to do the manta dive at Garden Eel Cove off the airport, it generally has better water conditions, larger numbers of mantas, and is a great night dive to boot in comparison to the Sheraton site. We'll be happy to do the dive there again.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Scuba dive Kona Hawaii with Wanna Dive.....

Sorry for the title on this post... just giving the search engines something to look at (maybe, not sure it really does anything). We've had some really nice diving the last couple of days. Tuesday morning it was pretty flat on the ocean so we decided to take the boat down to the Red Hill area of South Kona and do a drive at a site called Driftwood (Bob's favorite spot in that area)... got there and a private boat was just tieing up, so we moved on over to Lava Dome/Coral Dome (not sure which it is most often called), which is one of my favorite spots in that area. This particular site features a lot of little cuts/shelves/mini-canyons to poke around in and a very good sized dome feature inshore that is very reminiscent of the 1st cathedral on Lanai.... it's a cool dive. After that dive we moved on up nearer the harbor to Eel Cove for another nice dive. Water conditions were fantastic, and we saw lots of whales on the trips to and back from the first dive site.

Yesterday we had a combination of north swells, light southwest winds and a boat full of newer divers so we went on down to Pawai Bay to get out of the swells. Had a couple of real nice dives and then it was time to head home. By then the south winds were howling, and the northwest swells were coming up. When that happens, and the wind is strong enough, the swells get bunched into a series of back to back mini-walls of water. Fortunately that is very rare here, I've probably been in water like that a handful of times in the years I've been doing this. It was nasty enough that the waves were breaking in deep water, luckily my boat's a Radon, originally made for rough water urchin harvesting from what I understand, and is quite heavy for it's size so it handled the conditions quite well. I'm just glad the conditions hadn't turned like that on our long trip south, it'd been a long slow ride home if that were the case. I can usually cruise around at 20-24 mph when I'm covering some distance, it wouldn't have been so yesterday. Anyways, we had fantastic whale action on the way back from Pawai Bay.

This has turned into a relatively busy February for us. I've noticed the companies with multiple boats are actually using multiple boats this year, I'm not sure that was the case last February. It looks like the tourist numbers might be inching upwards if my guess is correct.

Here's an underwater photo of a Longnose Butterfly. They're one of our more common reef fishes here. Hawaii technically has two species of Longnose Butterfly, a short snouted one that is found throughout the Indo-Pacific, and an endemic (only found here) species with a significantly longer snout. Oddly enough, the frequency of which one you see can vary greatly depending on which island you are on. The "common" longnose is readily seen on Oahu, they rarely see the longer nosed endemic one.... here the longer nosed fish is quite common. We even see the black phase version of the endemic species here, I'll show you that on the next post.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Underwater video of Flame Angel in Kona Hawaii...

Flame angelfish from Kona Hawaii from Steve on Vimeo.

Today's dive charter had great diving conditions. Cathy led the first dive and I did the second. On the second dive we did a one way dive (moor, put the divers in, then dive in one general direction and have the boat follow the bubbles and pick up the divers at the end of the dive) over an area I hadn't actually dove in one single dive before. We saw Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus) in a couple of spots on the dive.

Flame angels are a fish I'm quite familiar with from my days in the aquarium trade a couple decades back. We generally had Philippine flames in those days, the Hawaiian ones seem to be a bit deeper red. When I first moved here, the flame angels were few and far between. I'd see maybe 2-3 a year, mostly on shore dives I did, and almost none on the dive sites commonly frequented by the boats. Back in 2000 they established FRAs (fish replenishment areas) along 30 percent of the coastline on the west side of the Big Island. I don't know if the flame angels were heavily targeted by aquarium collectors (they're tough to catch because they dart into the coral) and whether that had a huge effect on the population, but around 2005/2006 we started seeing them more frequently, and now it seems we see them on the majority of our dives. They are no longer an uncommon sighting.

These are one of my favorite fish, they're very tough to get a decent shot of because they're so prone to darting off or into the corals the moment you're ready to take a shot, so I took a quick video of one just so you'd get an idea of how this fish acts.

I've got a pretty full dive charter tomorrow... it's time to snooze....zzzzzzzzz

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Scuba diving in Kona Hawaii is FUN!!!

We had a last minute charter happen yesterday. The swells of the last couple of days dropped off pretty nicely so we were able to get some good dives in. Bob was the guide for both dives, I played Captain for the day and got a 30 minute "Captain's dive" in while the divers were having lunch and their surface interval on the second mooring of the day.

I took my wife's old Canon A620 down on the dive to try to get familiarized with it. I took a look at it while the divers were down on their first dive and sort of figured out what I wanted to do with the camera. I only took a few shots, here's a shot of an adult phase Yellowtail Coris Wrasse (Coris gaimard). I don't have many, maybe any, shots of the "terminal" phase adults on this blog prior to this photo. These fish go through a pretty radical color change over the course of their lives... they start out as red fish with white diamonds (many people confuse them for clownfish, which we don't have in Hawaii) then eventually lose the white and gain a bunch more colors. They're neat looking in all phases.

The water's still very warm for this time of year. I didn't bother with a wetsuit for the thirty minute dive, although I'd have appreciated it on a longer dive. I was seeing 77 on my computer, we've heard anything from 75-78 on the customer's computers. Yesterday's the first day in almost 2 months I've not seen whales on the water, but we heard them underwater on my dive and the group's second dive. Next month should be the really busy month, although it's been a fabulously good Humpback whale season so far.

No charter today so I'm hanging out at the dive shop 10-5 today.



Friday, February 12, 2010

Turtles from Hawaii...

We had some big surf roll in Wednesday afternoon. We did a couple of nice dives Wednesday morning and the swell was starting to pick up pretty good by the end of the second dive. Thursday was kind of nasty, today's not quite as bad but still nothing I'd like to dive in if I had the choice. We didn't have anything scheduled for today, if we had we'd have probably gone and given Pawai Bay a looksee before calling the trip, it's a nice place to tuck into and still get a good couple of dives in much of the time in the winter.

Looking at the surf charts, it looks like it'll be better tomorrow and decent from Sunday onward for a bit. One of the nice things about Kona diving is that if you have a few rough days, it can be nice diving pretty much the next day. We have limited amounts of sand, and virtually no soil at the shoreline, so the swell just needs to drop enough to let whatever's in the water settle out and we're back to great viz. I've seen it go from basically undiveable to flat with 80' plus viz overnight here... tough to beat.

Here's a shot of a couple turtles I took on a shore dive in Maui (yeah, they got diving too... personally I prefer Kona) a few years back. I've borrowed on of my wife's older cameras and housings, but the LCD is so small I can't see the settings underwater very well and I've yet to spend the time topside to get familiar enough with the buttons to do it on the fly. The newer cameras are so nice with their larger LCD screens. I've got my eye on a couple different cameras, but that purchase will wait 'til later in the spring or summer for now. I need to just sit down and play with the camera for 20 minutes and I'd feel comfortable carrying it in case we bump into something special.

Currently my next scheduled charter is Monday, so I'm hanging out at the dive shop all weekend to see if I get any walk ins.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Terriffic scuba diving conditions in Kona Hawaii today...

We had very nice day on the water today. The water was glassy flat, there were dolphins outside the harbor on the way out, we had to alter course for whales in our path on the way to Golden Arches, a couple times, underwater viz was well over 125 feet, whales were singing during the dive.... and more.

After the first dive
we had a whale and her calf come up pretty darned close to the boat. The calf was rather boisterous.... repeatedly breaching for a few minutes. I took this photo of a splash close to the boat... missed the whale itself, then ran out of space on the CF card. After deleting a few older photos I managed to get a passable shot of the calf breaching in the distance, it was quite a ways away by this time.. We moved on to Turtle Pinnacle (not a real hotspot for turtles these days, but it's still a great dive) for the second dive. Viz was a bit down in comparison to Golden Arches, but still great.