Thursday, December 29, 2005
OK, so we saw Tinker's today again at about 120'. It was sunnier, but still too deep to get a picture that really does them justice on available light. This will probably be about as good as I can do 'til I get a strobe. The gold color on these guys really pops when lit up.
The swell started to drop today and is should be very nice tomorrow along the whole west side... right before the next one hits. We'll be getting at some of the spots we haven't been able to do the last few days.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
We had a couple of nice dives today. On the first dive Bandit Angels and 2 or 3 (depends on who you listen to) Flame Angels were seen, as well as several other interesting critters. On the second dive we did a one way dive from the mooring off Kaloko ponds to the north. This is a dive I've actually never completely done so some of it was new for me, lots of reef on a slight slope. Lots of the typical reef critters, we did see a group of female or younger Psychedelic Wrasses, but no adult male.
Between dives we went out to see to see if any whales were around. One of the whale/dolphin charters had found a large pod of Pilot whales and soon there were several boats watching. There were certainly several dozens of them (the whales) and very well could have been a hundred or more. Here's a pic of Pilot whales.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Big surf again today. We were still able to see lots of critters. Flame angels, tinker's butterfly (I want better pics, but I still may post one I took just to give you an idea of how cool this fish is) and a bunch of other goodies. I dove the second dive and we dropped down to look for the Tinkers. 2 of them right where they were supposed to be. These guys are so curious it's tough to keep 'em away from you when you find them. Viz on the second dive was quite good (60-70' on the flats and 120+ over the edge), despite heavy surf pounding most areas. We were around a point at Sharkfin Rock. Water's still running 78/79 degrees so far. We ending up cancelling the night dive. The manta location was getting pounded bigtime and there was NO viz at the site when I checked it between dives. I gave the group a choice of cancelling of just doing a "normal" night dive at the spot that's been clear for diving so far during the swell, they passed as they'd been diving that spot during the day and didn't feel like repeating.
Here's a fairly old looking eel from today's dive.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
I had a dive charter today, it's a nice way to spend your Christmas day when your spouse has to work. I've got some customers from last year who are in for a week of diving. I've got several others, new and old, coming in in the next few days too, at least 9 charters going out in the next 7 days. I will be pretty darned busy for a bit.
We still have a pretty decent swell, but there was no windchop so the water was smooth and most all the dive sites were open with decent viz. Still running 78-79 on the water temperatures.
The first dive was off a site called "High Rock", which is as you may guess, a rock which goes from about 40' to near the surface. Our second dive was at a site known locally as "Freeze Face" which has a cave with a lot of fresh water pouring out. I led the second dive.
Here's a couple of Bluefin Trevally from today's dive. We see them quite often in Kona as they like to patrol the top of the dropoffs (which Kona has at most divesites) for prey.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Just thought I'd talk about one of our more trendy/touristy/unique restaurants here in Kona. Kona Brewing Company, aka the Brew Pub locally, was started shortly before I arrived here in '99. It apparently was started by the guy who owns Kettle Chips. Serving very good pizza, sandwiches and salads and such it is also a very good microbrewry, serving several types of beer brewed on the premises. Several of their beers have been award winners. Their Porter (along with other beers they've made)- which both Pat and I are fond of, has placed highly in the Porter category at the Great American Beer Festival.
It seems to be somewhat of a diver's hangout around afternoon happy hour time. I don't get in there all that often, maybe once or twice a month, but dropped in with my DM today and immediately ran into several divers I've worked with or known over the years. I stopped in today as I had to cancel the night dive... surf was getting downright big during our second dive today, we felt the surge down to about 40' at a site I haven't really noticed surge at even on higer surf days.
The first dive we did was off Keahole Point, at a divesite called "Pipedream", the westernmost point of the Big Island. It's a great dive, with lots of pipes, chains and stuff from deep water pumping operations (long story, come visit me on the boat and I'll tell it to you). The DM saw several ulua (Jacks) and a couple whitetip reef sharks down at the big pipe the site is named after. I did the second dive off of Kaloko, an area of canyons and arches which are remnants of collapsed lava tubes.
Both my wife and I have tomorrow off, but we get to work on Christmas day - Yahoo. Actually, I get the better end of this deal as she has a real job.
Here's my tee shirt... It's the absolute rage in Kona fashion wear... Not quite, but it's pretty OK for the basic dive operator tee shirt.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Nope, this isn't Kong, just a Kona moray eel. Yellow margin morays are among the most common morays we see here.
Kong was quite a movie. I liked the fact that they kept it in the time frame of the original as opposed to trying to update it to current times. Great effects and tons of action. I'd read the early portions were slow moving, but Pat and I didn't find the movie to move slow or be boring at any point.
I went out for a two tank charter today. We've had a big swell the last couple of days and we had to time it coming out of the harbor once again. I played captain on the first dive, at Sharkfin rock. My DM said viz was approaching 150'. We did the second dive a Pawai bay and I'd put the viz in the 80-90 foot range at least. It was very flat in the bay as it is blocked from the northwest swells by Kaiwi point. It's still running 79 degrees in the water... if this keeps up we could be in for a fairly warm winter season.
I've got a 5 passenger charter tomorrow, 2 full charters on Friday (day and night, no real time off between) , Saturday off (so far), dive on Christmas and then run charters straight on through the 1st at least. It looks to be busy for a bit here.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
This is a fried egg nudibranch from today's dive. Nudibranchs are basically a sea slug without a shell. Nudibranch means "naked gill", many will have a feathery gill structure. Some of the other types I've posted or will post will show those.
It's a gorgeous sunny day in Kona today. We've got Kona (from the west) winds today which has blown off all all the clouds we usually have on Hualalai and Mauna Loa. The swell was up so we had to time going out of the harbor, but we were able to find a couple of different dive sites with 80'+ viz.
Have a great day!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
I went' to Quizno's yesterday for their first day open in the midst of lots of errands. Kona's grown since I moved here in very early '99.... Home Depot, Lowes, Jamba Juice, Bubba Gump's, Hard Rock, Outback are the notable chains that have appeared in that time that I can think of. Already had a Walmart, Safeway and a Costco, but otherwise not a whole lot of major chains other than McDonalds, Taco Bell, Starbuck's, Subway and the like. Kona's growing, but we still have a single 2 lane road which acts as THE highway for the entire west side of the island - we're still small by mainland standards, but at least we have a traffic problem.
We had a manta ray for the night dive the other night. It was a full moon and there was plenty of plankton, but just the one manta. Some say the full moon affects whether the mantas show, but just when you think there's a pattern, there will be a dozen on a full moon.
We had a two tanker go out this morning. Oahu had a huge west swell yesterday and I was worried it might affect us. It did wipe out the diving at several of our dive sites, but there was still good diving to be had off the Pine Trees area at Lone Tree Arch, Skull Cave/Suck 'em Up and that area. We probably had 70'+ viz for the day. I was with a student and saw a whitetip shark, octopus, a few different nudibranchs and such. The other group did see a Hawaiian Stingray. I've yet to see one in 6 years of diving/working here, they're rarely seen. We've got a private charter going out tomorrow, hopefully we've seen the heaviest of our surf. It's a group that went out with me last 2 years and it was a rough water day the last time.
Here's another angle on the frogfish. It's tough shooting in available light, much of him was in the shadow. He moved a couple minutes later and faced into the light for the pic I posted earlier.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I have an afternoon/night manta ray trip today. With the morning free, I did the sensible thing.... went diving. It's handy living within 15 minutes of some of the best shore diving in Hawaii. The water's been flat for a couple of days so I wanted to try working with the camera while on my own for once. It's been rough water most any time I've had an opportunity to go out on my own.
Here's the highlight of my morning. Frogfish are a member of the angler family. They're tough to spot and not found very often.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Unfortunately not underwater, that's something I've yet to see... maybe this year. Today was very flat conditions early on. Good viz, 79 degree water still. I did the first dive of the day and played Captain the second.
We saw the whale between dives while cruising around. Last December we saw plenty of whales and then the Januuary swells came along and we really didn't see much of them 'til almost March. I'm hoping we get a good show all winter long.
Here's a rather busy shot I took the other day. It has several of the types of hard corals we have here. In the middle of the picture (kind of behind and above the yellow tangs) you can make out a bunch of the blue goatfish foraging for something. Above them in the background near the top of the photo is a trevally. There is a phenomenon called "nuclear hunting" where different species of fish hunt together. On Kona reefs we often see eels, grouper, trevally and occasionally the goatfish hunting together. I need to get a more obvious picture or video of it some day to post or link.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
We had 2 manta rays on the night dive the other night. It's always fun being on the boat when the customers come in after that dive. They're always quite stoked. Having a 14 foot wide fish glide inches over your head repeatedly is not the typical dive experience for most people. We get a lot of people saying that it's the best dive, or best night dive they've ever done.
The surf came up yesterday and today. Should settle down again tomorrow for a day or two before the next swell hits.
Brrrrr... It's cold. It's sitting about 65 degrees at home right now, it was 63 when we got up this morning. We live at the 900 foot elevation so it's a bit colder than it is in Kailua or down by the shore. It's really funny how you get used to warm weather after living here a few years. One or two degrees cooler and I'll be wearing sweats.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
It was a cloudless morning in Kona today. The east side of the island had been getting a good amount of rainfall, but we've got a couple of nearly 14,000 foot tall behemoths in the way (Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea - tonight's news said both received snow today) that absorb all the rain before reaching Kona on the west side of the island.
We did the first dive at turtle heaven, lots of turtles and other fish. A male phychedelic wrasse, awa awa, helmet snail (looks like a foot long Qonquistador hat), papillo/ulua/blue trevally and other goodies were sighted. The second dive was a one way dive from Kamanu/Carousel to out and around Kaiwi point. This is an outstanding dive... Flame angels, a bandit angel, nudibranchs, tons of pyramid butterflys and such were all sighted. My wife was able to join us today. I'm not sure if she'd done either site before, she was real happy with the second dive... it's a great dive.
Unfortunately for me... played Captain on both dives. It was still a great day on the water. Apparently wth viz was very, very good today. I think my DM was talking 150' at our first dive, which is incredible for that dive site. I talked with another DM/Instructor/Captain friend who estimated 200' or more at the dive site they did on their first dive.
79 degree water, 100+ foot viz.... not too bad compared to what I dove in off the Pacific Northwest.
Here's a juvenile Chevron tang. they lose the red/orange s they mature and turn into a black (actually black striated with white) tang as they mature.
Monday, December 05, 2005
....this afternoon. My wife called me from her work and asked if it was pouring yet, nope, probably started 2-3 minutes later... One of those 2-3 inches of rain an hour rains we occasionally get. We don't see tons of them, but they can happen. Right now the rain has stopped and it's a cool 75 degrees outside. We live down around Kealakekua bay, other areas may have had less (or more) rain, topography of the island has a lot to do of where it rains. In general, the closer the mountains are to the water, the more rain. Elevation can have a dramatic effect, the higher on the hill the more rain.
I'm enjoying my time off right now. I have charters on Wednesday and Thursday, but starting on Sunday the 11th I'm not sure if I will have any days off the rest of the month. I do have 5 days open the last 20 of the month so far, but I have enquiries on all of them. I'm hoping they all book up, this is one of those jobs you don't mind working 15-20 days straight.
Here's a pic of a short piece of cave. One thing we have in Kona is short lava tubes and archways at many of our dive sites. Makes for a neat little swim through if the surf isn't crazy.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
I was just looking through some of my older photos and saw this. It was a nicer photo than I recall seeing at the time I took it.
We rescheduled tomorrow's dive to later on. My customer just wanted to do one day of diving while here so it might as well be a day that the swell's down. It works out just fine for me either way.
Today is a football day. My wife graduated from Texas years ago, and she's working on her Doctorate through Colorado - she basically couldn't care less who won though. We're both big Oregon State Beaver fans, having gone to school there and living in Corvallis for years - uh, we'll get 'em next year. Now the USC game's on. I think Texas is pretty for real this year. USC has dominated for 2 years, I'm not so sure what'll happen in the Rose Bowl this year (assuuming USC beats UCLA today). My one other football comment (since this paragraph is about football, I might as well get all my football related comments out of the way) is that Reggie Bush deserved the Heisman last year, he deserves it again this year - he truly is a great player.
Friday, December 02, 2005
I did a dive for fun down at the Place of Refuge today. I was hoping to shoot a lot of pics but it was pretty stirred up. I had an opportunity for teaching tomorrow (Saturday), but it'll be nasty due to a west swell coming up and not what I'd consider good conditions for Open Water certifications or intros. I do have a day on the boat planned for Sunday with certified divers.
Here's another tiger cowry from the other day. I keep hoping to find an empty one some day. I don't mess with any cowries that are alive. Many cowry species mate for life. They leave a slime trail that the mates follow - if you pick one up, odds are that you'll put it down in the wrong spot and break up a happy couple.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
After being in the water 14 of the last 17 days I didn't have anything booked (my slow season's turning into a busy time) and took a day off. I thought about DIVING for fun today, but I'll give my ears a rest. Maybe tomorrow.
The big news around today is the roughly 40 acres of land that fell off into the sea over on the lava flow a couple of days back. Sorry I don't have a link, if I find one in the next day or so I'll link it. --- Here's a link with some pics of the new island edge, it may be updated to something different for those looking at the site after 12/2/05 --- http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/update/#images --- We have an active volcano that is continuously building new property on the Big Island. The photo above is of my family (wife, parents, sisters and in-laws and families) out on the lava flow back in late '99. The glowing orange stuff in the background is real red-hot flowing lava. You can still walk to the flow but they do warn of bench falls. As the lava flows to the sea it forms a bench which could potentially fall, this is what happened to the parcel which fell into the sea the other day. It's a very popular thing, walking out to the flow, hopefully nobody was on the parcel that sank. It apparently happened in smaller portions over several hours, haven't heard of any problems with hikers as of yet.
Here's a photo of some Pyramid and Thompson's butterfly fish soliciting a parasite cleaning from a cleaner wrasse.