Sunday, December 17, 2006

Brrr it's getting cold... We've had some rain, so there might be some snow tonight up the mountain.

Today we saw 59 degrees in the early morning at our place. We have a rather large sloppy ocean swell today and the water temperature was at 77... winter's coming. Viz was down to about as bad as it gets here... say 20-30 feet in the shallower portions of the dive, but on an upbeat note, there were several turtles being actively cleaned at Turtle Pinnacle today. The surf should improve over the next couple of days, the water temp will continue to slowly drop for a couple of months.

Tomorrow we've got a pool session, and then later in the afternoon I've got to get together with the mechanic and do some adjusting on the new carburetor we had installed last week (running rough right now, but should be a quick fix, boats are so much fun) to make sure everythings in order before it gets screaming busy - the busy season seems to hit around the 20th-22nd of December, depending on which day Christmas falls.

The underwater photo above is of a Zebra Moray (Gymnomuraena zebra). I may have already posted this pic somewhere on this blog, sorry if it's a repeat but I just don't feel like looking back through all the archives tonight (but you are more than welcome to look through the archives - linked on the side bar to the right - and see if it's a repeat). These guys are always a thrill to come across. They don't come out in the open all that often, more often than not we will see their tails somewhere in a hole in a lobe coral and not be able to find their head.



Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lotsa scuba diving coming up...

The Christmeas busy season is coming up. It seems to get really busy after about the 20th or so here. Starting tomorrow I'll be busy for a while. We had a couple charters earlier this week. I've got another tomorrow, with a class on Monday and more charters the rest of the week.

We had our first rain in almost a month tonight, didn't get nearly enough to do much, but if we can get another evening or two it'll help keep things from gettting overly dry. The wet/dry seasons in Kona can be somewhat reverse of much of the rest of the state because of our being on the leeward side of a 13,000 foot mountain. We see much of our rain in the late summer and during the winter it can be quite dry some years.

The picture above is of Pololu Valley, up on the north end of the island. It's one of my favorite short but brisk little hikes here. I don't get up there all that often, and I haven't been up there since the earthquake the other month. I've heard there was damage on the trail. I'll try to get up there sometime eventually to see if anything on the trail has changed.

I'm running low on fish shots I really like... I'll have to dig into my older stuff 'til I get the supply refreshed. Between flu, vacation, the cold which followed the trip, and now an ear infection, I haven't been in the water as much lately as I have hoped. I'll keep Bob busy diving 'til the ears are back to normal and then I'll get my turn...whoohoo! I'm hoping be early this next week the ears'll be back to normal.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

Latest status of snorkeling, hiking, kayaking at Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook Monument

I went down the hill today to check on what all's going on at the bay. When we had our earthquake back in October and they had landslides, the state basically shut the bay down. It's been reopened for recreational use, but it is more limited than before the quake.

The hiking trail down to the bay has been officially closed for now. The DLNR has had an officer down at the wharf and park much of the time. Someone has put up informative plaques (one is pictured) down at the bay, which is quite nice, and they also have a booth down at the old wharf with this informative video (I linked this back in September, but here it is again) on snorkeling and critter care. They've set up buoys in the bay approximately 100' from shore in front of the monument and inside towards the beach. No boats/kayaks/snorkelers are allowed to land or swim within the buoys and they had a boat out there enforcing that. I guess this is supposed to go on indefinitely for now. Kayaks and snorkelers are allowed in the water, as long as you stay outside the buoys.

I suspect they are also cracking down on improper interaction with the dolphins. That has been a hot button topic here for a number of years, and now that the DLNR has a boat down in the area I suspect it'll be enforced. Last month there was a whale that turned up off Kailua and was basically killed by sharks - several boats got near to it to film it and there are rumors that there's going to be trouble for the photo/video guys and the captains of the boats as far as getting close in violation of the marine mammal protection act. We'll see if there's any fallout from that.

So basically the bay is open for recreational kayak use, the beach has been reopened, but don't expect to get all the way over to the monument.



Friday, December 08, 2006

Surf's actually not all that bad....

I took a shot of this cleaner shrimp on a fun dive yesterday. I had no charter so I went down to the Place of Refuge to get wet for an hour. Things were a bit more stirred up than usual in the shallows, but the swell they've predicted really hasn't disrupted the diving much at all. Water temperature is still quite nice. I was seeing 79 degrees yesterday morning at depth on the dive.

We put a new carburetor on the boat the yesterday. It seems to be a never-ending money pit, that's the way boats are, but it runs noticeably nicer.

It's still a little slow for us right now, but it's sort of the calm before the busy season. The last half of the month is starting to book up.. if you are looking at diving in Kona, get on my Wanna Dive website and e-mail me - I'd be happy to set something up.

Well, off for now.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Big surf expected in Hawaii for a couple of days...

I thought I'd post a couple of sunset photos from this evening. Very orange. It tends to get that way when the vog is up a bit.

Diving conditions have been excellent the last couple of days, but we're expecting swells to come up. They apparently had nice 15 foot surf off the north shore of Oahu today, but it's supposed to hit 22-28 foot faces by tomorrow.
Our island is usually shaded from northwest swells by Oahu and the Maui county islands, but we can still be vulnerable depending on the angle the swell comes in at. We'll know tomorrow if the big northwest swells are coming in. More bothersome to us may be the big west swell they are expecting to fill in. They say we could have 15-18' faces off Oahu from the west, if that happens it'll likely hit here too and mess up most of our dive sites for a day or two. A little later in the winter, west swells are rarely a concern, we're just in that season right now where they can pop up, it usually affects shore diving more than boat diving unless the surf is huge.

I haven't posted in a while. We took a long weekend on Oahu to watch the University of Hawaii/ Oregon State University football game. Good game... Go Beavs... Go Warriors too, but I did go to school at OSU. As residents of Kona, we like to complain about the traffic here, but our trip to Aloha Staduim took the cake for slow traffic... wow... 3+ hours to get from Waikiki to the staduim, took us 26 minutes to get back after the game in moderate traffic. I'm glad we don't live in a big city.



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!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!!

The picture above is of a green sea turtle that was photo shopped a bit to look more like a painting. You can do some fun things with photoshop. I'm starting to run out of new photos, so I may just doctor some of the old one's from time to time. I'm not sure if I've posted this exact one, without the doctoring, before - lots of turtle photos have hit the site over the last year, so it's gonna happen sooner or later.

We finished off our classes yesterday. 6 new divers. Diving conditions were great in the morning, with a bit of a northwest swell bumping up later in the day. Water temp is running a warm 81 - yahoo - I like diving in the fall as the water's usually so nice.

I'll keep this post short, not a lot to say today.



Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nice diving conditions yesterday....

Short report today.

Bob and I have been working with a group of students. Our water temp has bumped up a hair the last couple of weeks. I had almost given up, but I saw a solid 81 and even saw 82 degrees on the computer during the dive yesterday. Call it 81 degrees in the water right now.

Posted above is an Arc-eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus). These guys perch on coral heads waiting for small prey to pass by.



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Still alive and well in Kona.....

I haven't posted lately ... I came down with the flu last week and just haven't felt like writing anything. More or less back to normal now. Tomorrow I get to work on the boat some. It's a case where a 16 buck part fails and it takes 10 days (mostly waiting on new parts) and a lot more than 16 bucks to get back to where you started. The joys of owning a boat... that's what credit cards are for I guess. Should be back up and running tomorrow afternoon. I have classes later in the week so the boat needs to be back to normal by the weekend.

Ironman came and went. I had the weekend off and was looking forward to actually going downtown for the activities (we usually just try to stay as far away as possible) but spent the whole weekend in bed instead. The quake had basically no noticeable effect on the event. I did talk to a gentleman who lives up north in the area most affected and heard some interesting/even scary stories. Sounds like I need to take the highway up north to Pololu and check things out.

The picture above is a top looking downward view of one of the Harlequin shrimp I posted a month or two back (go to the archives to see that photo). They are such a cool find.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

...And now back to our regular programming...

Here's a shot of a Tinker's Butterly (Chaetodon tinkeri) from the other week. This is one of a pair that was VERY cooperative. I had a customer on board who wanted to take some photos of the fish we'd seen earlier in the year. Tinker's tend to hang out quite deep, but they saw us at about 75' and came directly up to us. Couldn't ask for more, other than to maybe back off enough to get both fish in the same shot. They can be a very curious fish.

Big Island earthquake, October 15, Kona Hawaii

This is my last post about the earthquake unless something real interesting on a personal note comes up. I thought I'd pass along some links to the local paper and one of the Oahu TV stations... Take a look at West Hawaii Today and The Hawaii Channel for more thorough information.

The earthquake made for an interesting morning here in South Kona, but was far more of an event up Kohala and Hamakua direction. One of Pat's co-workers who lives up north apparently had major home damage, as in the roof fell in and windows blew out. I'm sure we'll be hearing lots more stories of more serious damage tomorrow. Hopefully the first reports that nobody was seriously hurt hold up.

Take care all.


Kona Hawaii... the land of natural disasters...

Just kidding. We rarely have any earthquakes of any real damage, in fact I can't think of any actual damage from a quake here since I've moved here.

Here's the only real evidence near my property. We've always had some rock overhanging near the road just down from our property line. It fell, didn't go very far. There are lots of smaller rocks, primarily from the older rock walls, along side the roads in many parts of Kona also.

Pat called to tell me to not be surprised if our next renter calls wondering if things are OK. I'm gradually hearing from friends and family on the mainland also wondering. Not too much looks out of the ordinary at the home though. Apparently the upper floor of the hospital took a pretty good hit, also apparently North Hawaii Hospital also was damaged.

Here's a bonus natural phenomenon photo... We saw three funnel clouds the other day, I remembered I actually had the camera in the car. Tornados are not a problem here in general, but we do see waterspouts every few years.



Here's an internet radio link to a broadcast covering the earthquake...

It's pretty much the only radio station on Oahu going. The link requires you to allow popups to hear the broadcast.

I could only get one local privately owned radio staion, literally a guy with an antenna on a cherry picker up the hill, when I was driving earlier. As the power comes back in all areas I'm sure there will be more info available.

Interesting... I looked at the stats and I'm getting huge numbers of people hitting this site looking for Kona earthquake information... I hope some of them are divers and will remember me.



More Info on the Kona Hawaii earthquake...

Here's the link to recent earthquake activity... USGS map .

Bob just called, he's back from the Galapagos. He said he did not see a single whaleshark on one of his whaleshark dives... 22 sightings on the other 7 dives though. Between that and a couple hundred hammerheads, and sea lions galore, he thought the Galapagos was quite a place. Anyway, Bob was headed to Safeway when the quake hit. He said his car was bouncing all over the place. When he got to Safeway they'd had ceiling tiles all over the place and food off the shelves.

Pat called from the Hospital to say she had no clue when she'd be coming home. Apparently they've lost a lot of ceiling tiles and had lots of broken water pipes. The hospital has been evacuated and they are finding spots for all the patients.

The Pali (cliffs) down at Kealakekua Bay had several landslides. Apparently there was a huge dustcloud. I wish I noticed it when it happened, we live right above the bay but have trees in the way of the view. I checked out the bay a while later and there was still tons of dust/dirt on the surface of the water in the bay.

I'm sure I'll have more to report later...


Heck of an earthquake hit Kona about 3 hours ago.

Wow, biggest earthquake I've felt.... The power and internet just came back on. Apparently Oahu is out of power and parts of Kauai, the earthquake was apparently felt as far away as Kauai.

Lots of shaking at home, but no real damage at our house. I've got friends with lots of broken glass and pictures knocked off the walls and such.

We cancelled todays charter after everyone called and said this wasn't a good day to go out. I've got one group who was up at the Mauna Kea, apparently they evacuated the hotel as there was some damage along the lines of a wall or two collapsing.

Pat was called into the hospital, as the county/state activated the emergency plan. The radio station is reporting that there may be structural damage to the hospital and there is an evacuation in place, new patients are apparently being taken outside.

More later,


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Blogger ate my post, I'm trying again...

We did the manta dive last night. Great show, rough seas. We dropped into the water off the north mooring and had two mantas right off the bat. We did a little dive to the main dive site and settled down and were immediately bombarded by manta rays. The videographer we work with was already there and took some great footage of our divers with the mantas. There were 10 mantas at the site.

We've had some rather poor weather for here the last few days. There's been a cold front hanging out off to the northwest of the islands bring in good rains. Yesterday it passed through and we actually had some funnel clouds inland of the airport in the afernoon.

The underwater photo above is of a Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby (Canthigaster jactator), lone of the small puffers we see commonly on the reef.

Aloha, this time I'm copying the post before trying to post... I hate retyping.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy birthday... sort of.

I just noticed that my blog turns one year old tomorrow. My goals for the first year were to post a hundred or so times, and be able to click on the site meter and see that I was getting 4-5 direct requests a day. So far I've made it, with 180 some odd posts and at least 4-5 direct requests daily (direct requests indicate someone is acutally keying in or has "favorited" the URL, half were probably my family or myself, but at least some aren't). Now I've got to come up with some new goals, probably not all that different than the original goals in this case, maybe add another 100 posts minimum and gain an extra 4-5 daily direct requests. I started this because of a recommendation to use a blog to help exposure of my dive business (Wanna Dive - link is on the right side of the page), and I can't say for sure if that's working... but I'm having fun with it anyway, so why not continue?

Today I did an intro dive with someone who was staying in my vacation rental. That person had actually been certified back in the days of horse collars, but has only done a few resort dives since. It went well. Water temps were in the 79-81 degree range on my computer, depending on if in the shallows over the reef, or out on the shoulder. Nice relaxing dive.

It's our "slow season", but I'm still working a stretch of 13 out of 14 days. I've managed to find some great fill in help while Bob is off gallivanting in the Galapagos (lucky him - whale sharks, hammerheads, rays, marine iguanas, sea lions, etc - a lot to see in just 10 days or so), but I'll be happy to have him available again.

The underwater photograph above is of a red-spotted nudibranch. I took a bunch of shots and everything turned off slightly off, but this one is close, could have been a hair crisper on the focus. I discovered/remembered a new little thing/quirk with the Olympus sp-350 (actually noticed this first when taking the pic of the harlequin shrimp I posted earlier), if you are taking macro underwater and you want to get closer, try enabling the digital zoom and see if you like the results. In my case, I was able to fill up more of the frame with the actual subject and keep an effective focus than just using macro and not zooming in to the digital zoom range. I'm not sure if results vary camera to camera or not.



Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hooters is coming to Kona....

OK, so here's the face shot of the young lionfish I saw recently. This was probably just a little 3 incher, not that these get anywhere near as large as their cousins further south and west.

We did the night dive last night. I hadn't dove one in the last few outings, having Bob or others filling in do the dive, so last night was another good dive for me. GREAT FUN!!! We had mantas before we even hit the water. There were 11 at the dive site total, the customers were pretty happy with that.

Today we did a couple of dive sites off Old Airport and Pawai Bay. I did the first dive. I only had two customers on board today and they were returning for their 3rd trip this year, so it was a very relaxing day. We went looking for Tinker's butterfly and nudibranchs... we scored. I took the camera along and managed to pick up 4 or 5 shots that'll eventually (as in pretty soon unless I get a bunch of more shots, I'm running low on unposted pics I kind of really like) post here.

...Oh, yeah, Hooters is coming to Kona. Our little town is getting commercialized. for those of you who've been here before and are wondering where it'll be, it's going to be in the old Chart House Restaurant location, above Bubba Gumps and the Wyland Galleries at the Waterfront Row shops. I've never been to a Hooters, but I hear the chicken wings are really good... yum, yum - maybe, while in Houston a few year back we went to a place that specialized in wings and I wasn't overly impressed.



Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tropical fish are really proud of their backsides....

The bane of the underwater photographer is... fish butts. Talk to nearly anyone who's taken underwater photos, and you'll probably hear they have plenty of perfectly focused and exposed shots, only the fish are facing the wrong way.

Nearly all the digital cameras, that are so popular, have a bit of delay. Once you get your subject to where you can focus on them, they turn... happens most every time.

The photos on this page are of a young Hawaiian Lionfish (Pterois sphex). I was real tickled to see this one. The last few years I've only seen them at deep spots in sites not normally dove by the tour companies. It seems like they may have been collected out over the years. This one was at one of the dive sites most companies visit, and in less than 40' of water. They tend to hang out at the same spot, so some time in the future I'll be checking to see if it's there.

I took about a dozen shots of this fish, these two were probably the cleanest... but it was facing the wrong way. The second photo is kind of nice because you can see it's face. I did get a pretty decent face shot, but not a good full body shot... I'll post the face shot on the next post (so you have something to come back for).



Monday, October 02, 2006

Another kind of Hawaiian eel we don't see often....

Thought I'd post a pic I took back in '99 or so with my MX-10 underwater camera. This is a Magnificent Snake Eel (Myrichthys magnificus). We don't see them very often at all, when we do it's a thrill for even the dive leaders. Every now and then you'll run into divers who swear they saw a sea snake, once they describe it it usually turns out to be this. According to the Hoover's book (linked on the right side of the blog), the Hawaiian name for this fish means "stick", "pole" or - children and bashful folk cover your eyes - "male erection". Now I never would have thought of using that description for this fish.

It's still pretty busy despite being the "slow" season. It's starting to get darker earlier so I'm having to change my plans for the afternoon/night manta trips. I'm still trying to set up the night dives on Tuesdays and Thursdays (the reality is, if I go more often I end up going with 2 passengers every night and wear Bob and I out and barely cover expenses, grouping it up gives a shot at some better profits for the evening), but I'm open to other evenings to groups of 4-6 passengers if my schedule allows. Basically, I'll run either day or night, but not both like I do in the spring and summer, since I won't rush the day trips there just isn't enough time available between charters with the shorter days to run both day and nights. The manta dive is still hopping right now, hopefully it'll keep up throughout the fall.



Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wow, it's October already... but it's summertime hot and gorgeous here in Kona.

Howdy. Here's a shot from the bay outside of the Place of Refuge in Kona. The bay itself is one of the more popular shore dives in Hawaii, not this day though as surf was quite up. In the background there's an old temple that's been refurbished. It's all part of a National Park.

The park has quite a history. As I've had it told to me, so please don't quote this as completely correct... Places of refuge were established along the coast line in several spots. Back in the day, they were places of worship and also apparently places vanquished warriors and criminals could go to seek refuge. The Hawaiians had a "Kapu" (basically meaning law) system I think was established by the royalty, and if you broke Kapu, you were often subject to the penalty of death. Kapu could involve any number of offenses, from stealing to casting your shadow on the King's path, all sorts of interesting offenses. If you broke Kapu, your options were to basically be stoned to death, or run as fast as you can to a Place of Refuge and turn yourself in to the priests. They could absolve you of your crimes and then send runners out to tell everyone your cool, and then you'd be welcomed back to society. I need to actually do some reading so I'm not guilty of telling it improperly, but it is facinating.

Today was spent cleaning the vacation rental. We've been quite busy with it and are actully fully scheduled through the end of March at this point... if you are interested in a nice place to stay in South Kona later next spring and beyond click on the link on the right side of the page or check out
our site for more information.

Divewise, Bob's off to the Galapagos tomorrow so I'm scrambling to make sure I have coverage for several days of diving while he's gone.... part of the hazards of being a small operator at this point. As the business grows I'll have more regular employees, but I've been lucky that I know a bunch of good guides that can step in when needed.

Well, that's about all for now.



Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Salt and pepper shrimp?

Last night we had a bunch of mantas, along with a couple of squid, on the night dive. Bob dove both dives, I did one the day before. Tomorrow we're starting an Open Water referral, Bob and I usually split the dives when we're training. We're still seeing roughly 81 degrees for the water temperature in Kona, so it'll be nice diving for a class.

Today I was running all over town. I had a tire go flat on the trailer last night, lucky I had the day off today to rip the old one off and pick up a new one. I had to buy yet more tools, a floor jack and a big ol' deep tire iron to be able to get the wheel off. I'm gradually aquiring something of a workshop now that I have a boat to take care of. In the process of running around, I stopped at the "Rainbow Cafe" up in the Kaloko warehouse district up above Costco and Home Depot. It's a plate lunch place with a small buffet style serving counter ready to go for a quick lunch. They have delicious shrimp. I think it's salt and pepper shrimp as it's cooked much like salt and pepper squid... fried with lots of hot pepper flakes... yum, yum. Not a bad little place, it was doing a booming local business at 11:30 this morning.

Here's a pic of a school of tiape. They tend to hang out on dropoffs in large schools and form a ribbon of fish on the reef. Once you run across a school, you can almost count on them being in the same spot in the future.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Snorkeling in Hawaii hints...

Hi there,

I was on the web today and found a link to THIS.

It's a great little locally made video on reef care when snorkeling. Anyone planning to snorkel ought to take note of it. Many people know how fragile a reef can be, but others don't. With care we can all enjoy the ocean and it's marvels.

The picture above is of a Redspotted Sandperch (Parapercis schauinslandi). These guys are quite common out in the sand in deep water. They act much like a hawkfish, awaiting prey while they sit on a coral head.



Friday, September 22, 2006

9 manta rays on the night dive last night.

We had a group come over from Oahu for the night dive and had a great time last night. It was another great show with nine mantas at the site. Bob did the diving, I sure missed out. I'll be getting in the water for at least one dive tomorrow.

Here's a little shot of a cactus flower. Yep, the Big Island has cactus. This particular type of cactus is fairly common in the upland parts of Kohala. There's a neat little highway that runs between Waimea to the northwest and comes out between Kapaau and Hawi that has plenty of it along side the road. This island has a lot of different climate zones, so you'll never know what you might come across.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Scuba Diving in Kona Hawaii... it's always fun.

We had a nice couple of couples on board the other day. It was a nice day of diving for all. Bob found a little frogfish at a site that I need to try to get to with a camera before it moves on... it's a type of frogfish we don't see all that much.

I get busy again for a while starting tomorrow night. We've got a group of divers coming over from one of the other islands for the manta dive. After that we'll be off Friday and then pretty much working every day of the month, with maybe a day off on Wednesday. Bob leaves for the Galapagos (man, is that gonna be some fun for him) on the 1st, so I'm trying to work out coverage for the first half of next month 'til he gets back.

Above is a photo of Spanish Dancer Nudibranch eggs, also called a "sea rose" by some. In real life, this egg mass is about 2.5 to 3 inches across. I saw a large Spanish Dancer (say 10 inches or so long) on the night dive last month, it was a full group so I didn't bother with the camera, I wish I'd had it. Anyway, when we come across these eggs, especially ones that look like they've been there for a while, we check them out closely to see if there are any Egg Eating Nudibranchs on them. It's a very small nudibranch that hitches a ride on the Spanish Dancers 'til they lay eggs, they drop off the Spanish Dancer and lay their own eggs on the egg mass, leaving a much smaller spiral on the egg mass. Hopefully one day I'll have a camera in hand when I find an example.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Instead of talking like a Pirate, I'll do a scuba diver's review of Crocs foam shoes..

Today is "talk like a pirate day", but I'm not very good at it... but I do wear Crocs. Non-diving post today.

For those of you who aren't familiar with them, Crocs are a foam rubber shoe that are hugely popular over here, and apparently in many areas with watersports. There are a few other Crocs style shoes out there (Holey Holes, Shaka Shoes to name a couple) that are essentially the same in appearance.

A few notes...

These are great shoes for the active person who spends a lot of time in and out of the water.

They are comfortable, but it did take me a week to get used to wearing clog style footwear. My first worry was they would be too hot, being rubber and all and having worn nothing but sandals for 6 years, and there was some noticeable warmth the first couple of days, but nothing major. I have no major issues with these shoes. A lot of the hospital employees here wear them, so they must be comfy.

They don't hold up forever, it looks as though I'll go through about 4 pairs a year. I've had varying results with sandals holding up and have only found one good one (Gurkees dive sandals) that would routinely give me around a year's use - can't find them anywhere in Kona anymore, bummer.

They are odor free. This can be very important. We see a lot of very stinky sandals and shoes on the dive boat.

They claim to be nonskid, but I've found slick boat ramps to break that claim. The fist time I was walking lightly for two weeks - tailbone, ouch. The traction does seem to wear off pretty quickly with these shoes.

The toes are protected in most styles.. great for us people who don't pay attention and kick things a lot.

They now come in several styles. The original style and the "heavy duty" style are shown. They have several other styles. I just picked up the heavier model and they are great, but I suddenly came down with some athlete's foot, I'm wondering if the lack of holes in the toe area contributed. Some Crocs stores sell little buttons that will go in the holes... I've got some dive flags so they don't get confused with other sets of blue Crocs that come on the boat. I've seen all sorts of buttons available for those who want to "customize" their Crocs.

Sorry for the non-diving post, but a lot of people actually ask about them when they see them.



Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's the "slow" tourist season in Kona Hawaii again...

Not that it's really all that slow, but it is compared to summer and the holidays. My week's starting to fill in because of a couple of phone calls. Today I'm heading down to the boat to sand for a few hours. I'm going to try to repaint the interior of the boat on my off days this week, then when I hit an empty spell in the next month or two, see if I can get the exterior repainted. It's a work boat and will never make the cover of boat beautiful, but it definitely needs some cosmetic work while it's slow.

I've been getting occasional "last minute" calls lately... last night I got one at 8:35PM wanting to go on the night dive... which started at 4PM. As a head's up, I would suggest that people try to arrange to schedule at least their first dive of their trip in advance. If you know for sure that you want to dive, I'd recommend setting up at least the first dive before you get here, if you know you want to dive a lot then try to set it all up well in advance. Kona is not really a dedicated dive destination and there are not boats going out multiple times a day like some spots of the world. Most everyone has a morning boat, leaving between 7 and 9, and if they have a later trip it's an afternnoon/evening boat, leaving for the night dive at 4-6pm. We get a number of calls for people looking for dives for that very day at say 8-10am thinking they'll be able to catch a late morning or mid-day boat... they're basically out of luck finding that anywhere over here. Even the "next day or two" calls can be tough at times depending on schedules, but if I'm unable to make a go of it I can usually find an operator to refer people to.

Here's a photo of a sponge crab. We see them from time to time on the night dive. They carry a sponge on their back. I guess it's supposed to be camouflage, when you see them without a sponge, they'll likely have something else. We saw one carrying old shredded underwear several years back... whatever works I suppose.



Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gorgeous day on the water today...

Well the topside conditions on the water were much nicer than the other night. Flat and fairly sunny.

Our intro divers were a nice couple. One admitted to being extremely nervous, even to the point of not really wanting to come out on the boat this morning. At the end of the first dive the first words out were "I think I've got a new favorite hobby". It's always fun seeing how excited people can get trying scuba for the first time.... it's a different world.

The photo above is another pic I took recently of a Saddleback Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ephippium).I think I posted one back earlier in the summer, but this pic was a little closer. Colorful fish.



Wednesday, September 13, 2006

10 manta rays and 3 squid at the night dive off the Kona airport last night.

We did another night trip last night. We're back to the slower season so we've been going out a hair less frequently. I've got intro divers tomorrow daytime and then almost a week off (assuming no phonecalls in the meanwhile) with charters on 7 of the last 9 days of the month.

The water last night was quite sloppy, and it made for a bumpy trip, but the diving was still great. It was a great manta show, Bob lead the dives (they saw 3 mantas on the first dive) and said with 10 mantas on the second dive it was a great time. I think all the divers had their heads bumped several times by manta rays.

There were 3 squid on the dive. I'm pushing 2000 dives here, with about a couple hundred of them being night dives, and I've yet to see a squid. We've had a pair of them showing up off and on for the last month, I missed them one night I was down, and apparently there were three on Monday and last night. I'm hoping they keep showing up. If there's food for them on the dive they'll probably keep coming in. Last night they apparenlty were out of the edge of the reef, on occasion they've actually come to the dive site and hang out with the snorkelers a few feet under the surface.... COOL!

Here's a couple of little shrimp from a night dive I did a few weeks back. This is one of those cases of things that are tough to get a good photo of... clear or light colored on a light background... but they turned out reasonable.



Saturday, September 09, 2006

Did a night manta dive the other day in Kona...

Actually, Bob did the dive and I sat up top playing Captain. We had 5 or 6 mantas on the night dive on Thursday. It's been consistantly running about that many the last week or so. Water temperature has still been running in the 80 degree range.

I have a dive tomorrow morning, so this post will be a short one, time to hit the hay. I just wanted to get back in the habit of updating at least every 3 days or so.

Here's another picture of a Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) from a night dive some time back. Here's a little factiod about them I don't think I've mentioned... I learned this back in my aquarium days. They really don't like each other. Actually, we do find them in mated pairs in the wild quite often, but if you randomly put two together in an aquarium they often will battle. I remember one customer of mine had bought one and then later picked up an Arrow crab, which is a long spindly crab from the tropical Atlantic and Carribean. They apparenlty don't like each other either. He said the crab took off the shrimp's primary claws... Later, when the shrimp molted and regained it's claws (after a molt, as soon as the exo-skeleton hardens up they're apparently good as new) it returned the favor and took a few legs off the crab. This apparently went back and forth for a couple of molts each until they apparenltly found a workable peace arrangement. The customer actually got quite a kick out of it, I never sold that combination again though.

That's it for now.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Living in Kona...

it seems the yardwork never ends, at least when you live in the agricultural area. Being the "wet" season right now (late summer brings mauka properties a little late afternoon rain several days a week), things are growing like mad. Shortly, I'm making a trip out to green waste to drop off some palm fronds, mango and mac nut and guava branches that have been encroaching on the driveway. If I took 5 or 6 days solid of cutting and chipping I probably could make a huge impact on our private jungle, but hauling a truckload or two of branches to Kailua's green waste center can kill nearly a whole day. I'll have to get out in the yard with the camera to show you how overgrown things can get FAST here.

I went diving yesterday just for fun down at the Place of Refuge. The conditions were nice. I'm still seeing 79/81 degrees of water temperature on my wrist computer, I keep hoping it'll bump up another couple degrees before the fall ends. I had no luck getting any interesting photos. There's a little goby here that looks related to the dragonets (mandarin gobies and such) that is nearly clear and sits on the sand that I was trying to get a picture of. It was quite cooperative, but everything I took was washed out. I'll try again another day if I ever come across another as cooperative as this one was.

This photo is of a marbled shrimp, taken at night. They are one of our more commonly seen shrimp at night. We rarely see shrimp during the daytime other than the cleaner type shrimps, but at night things start coming out of the coral and we get to see lots of cool stuff.



Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sad news... apparently Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin has passed in a scuba accident

Click here for info

Here's an updated story with more news.

This is a sad thing. Rest in peace Steve Irwin.

One little note, the manta rays we have in Kona are harmless, and barbless, creatures not to be confused with stingrays. I'm sure we'll probably be hearing questions about diver and snorkeler saftey with the rays due to this incident.


A couple of days off.... mostly non-diving related...

Time to catch up on yardwork and everything else. The other day, on the tail end of my long stretch of workdays, the drive shaft on my pickup truck broke in half. That was kind of a noisy event. Luckily it was right at the bottom of the driveway while I was moving very slowly and I was able to roll to a spot at the side of the road, it could've been much worse. Also luckily, my wife had the day off and we were able to transfer all the gear to her vehicle and still get the charter off.

I did have a couple of days I had off at that point and it was spent searching the internet and local car lots for a new truck. It couldn't have happened at a better time... 6 years of zero percent interest and the new vehicle (Ford f-150) might run me the next couple of years little more than we've plowed into the old Dakota after replacing breaks, transmission and other assorted work done the last couple of years, not to mention this repair bill.

The diving conditions are pretty nice right now. I'm intending to get back in the water just for grins the next couple of days, maybe just play with the camera as I haven't really shot any pictures in the last couple of weeks. I don't have a charter pre-scheduled 'til Thursday, but I'll take charters if a phone call comes up.

Here's a picture a little critter I really enjoy... a medusa worm. These guys are a type of sea cucumber. They can be very long, are very soft, and have an accordion-like movement. I took this shot on a night dive, we generally do not see them during the daytime. Medusa worms, as well as other sea cucumbers, are sort of the vacuum cleaners of the sea - they pick up detritus and eat it. The medusa worms can be upwards of 3-4 feet long and slink along with their feathery fronds picking up items and passing it into their mouths. I used to have a pink medusa worm in a large reef tank I had at the front of my aquarium shop, way back when, that amazed people... one day it died and poisoned the tank... sea cucumbers tend to prolapse their guts when threatend or dieing and it's toxic enough that things stay away on the reef, in a closed system like an aquarium the toxins can have a devastating effect on the fish. I lost everything but the invertebrates and a pair of mandarin gobies.



Saturday, September 02, 2006

September, October and November can have some of the best scuba diving conditions...

...Long time no blog...

We're entering that time of year again which can be the best time to dive in Hawaii and Kona. The water's warming up nicely, it's roughly 80 right now, and will probably go up another degree or two. Add the water conditions to the fact that the tourist season slows down in the fall, and you've got potentially ideal diving.

I'd been really busy for much of August, now I've got a slow spell schedule-wise. I still have a bit more lined up this month than I did on the second day of last month, so it may be fairly busy yet.

We had a full boat for the manta dive a couple of nights back. There were a couple of manta rays at the manta dive. We had them right under the boat the moment our divers hit the water. When this happens, we still send our divers over to the dive site that all the operators share as that will get everyone an opportunity to have a show. Most all the dive operators do that, on occasions you'll get a new company or a private boat that hits the site and doesn't send their divers to the area everyone goes to and splits the manta action, that can be annoying for everyone but it hasn't happened in quite a while.

Yesterday we did a three tank dive day. I run a three tank local dive day for $149 per person where we stay pretty much within our regular dive area so we don't have to hit passengers up for what we'd need to do for a long range charter. There are plenty of great dive sites, without having to make an hour or two long boat run, so we don't have a ton of passengers (we'll go with two) or charge a great deal to do a three tank day. We had two divers over from Oahu on the boat. Both were very good divers, so the average dive time for the three dives was in the 90 minute + range. Four and a half hours underwater is a lot of bottom time in a day for most people, but they seemed pretty darned happy with the diving here in Kona. They were used to diving Oahu and thought the viz and diving here was fabulous... it was kinda average viz for here yesterday in reality. The diving does vary from island to island, if you haven't dove Kona but have on the others, give Kona a try, you just may be impressed as we have lots of areas with reef that is better than elsewhere in the islands.

Here's a photo of a red-spotted nudibranch. We seem to see these guys sort of "seasonally". I can't pick the season, but it just seems that at times we see them frequently, then they disappear alltogether for quite a while.



Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Whitetip Shark, Dragon Eel, Blue Dragon Nudibranch, Manta Ray....

That's what our group saw on one dive yesterday. I was captaining the dive so I missed out. I haven't seen a dragon moray in quite some time, I'm hoping it was at a spot it calls home and Bob can give me directions.

I haven't posted in a while, been very busy. Early in the month I was afraid it would be "slow", but I'm in the latter stages of working 15 days straight with several double shifts. Bob and I were both getting tired and since we didn't have anything scheduled for tonight as of yesterday, we agreed to pass on a charter for tonight if it came up... wouldn't you know it, I got a call last night.. I hate turning away business, but at some point I have to not overwork myself and Bob. Last minute bookings are never a guarantee, especially during the busy season. I do have a couple of extra people I bring on from time to time depending on their availabilities, but with the slow season coming soon I'd be a jerk for hiring someone as a "regular" and then laying them off 10 days later, I've seen it done elsewhere. If it turns out there is no slowdown, it's time to look to hire again.

Here's a shot of a Stripebelly Puffer (Arothron hispidus) I took on a night dive. These guys just seem to lay on the sand at night and are quite approachable, sometimes we will see small clear cleaner shrimp working them over when they are on the sand, but I didn't see any on this fish.

I'll try to pick up the posting pace if I can.



Monday, August 14, 2006

Great viz yesterday....

A little more about how nice diving is right now. On the first dive we moored off the north mooring at Golden arches. I could look down and see coral heads and pretty much under the archway from on the boat - now that's clear. Bob said the viz was spectacular. On our second dive we did a spot in next to the harbor that is gentle on the ears, one of our two students (just students that day) had ear clearing isses on the earlier dive. This site has a very gentle slope so is very easy to get to depth without struggling. I'm not exactly sure how far the mooring balls are apart there, but you could see the next one from just about 10 feet away from the one we were moored at.. and that was in the shallows where the viz was poor. We probably had 150' plus viz at depth. We did the 58 foot dive with no ear issues and saw some great stuff... three eagle rays, a huge school of Heller's barracuda, a leaf scorpion and a bunch of other neat stuff.

Today I was starting another class with academics and a pool session, Bob got the day off but it's back to the water for both of us tomorrow. We've got the students and some certified divers from last week signed up for another 3 days of diving.

Here's one of my favorite Hawaiian eels, a Zebra Moray (Gymnomuraena zebra). You don't see them out often, usually they are mostely buried in large coral heads. This one was actively poking around on one of our dives the other day. Neat looking fish.



Sunday, August 13, 2006

Great diving conditions in Kona Hawaii right now

We had great viz and other diving conditions today. I'm sort of on the front end of working at least 13 of 14 deys, likely will see that stretch lengthen before it slows down again later this month or early next month.

We've been going out with a couple of certified divers the last few days, and then had some Open Water certification students yesterday afternoon and today. We had lots of nice diving in that time.

This is a picture of an eagle ray that was at a cleaning station. We've got a spot where the eagle rays occasionally lay down and take a cleaning from the cleaner wrasses. You can see at least two wrasses, the little yellow and blue fish, picking parasites off this ray. I think there were actually four working the ray over at the time. I didn't really get all that close so as not to bother it while it was getting cleaned. This shot was probably from about 15 feet away, I used manual white balance to keep from getting too much of a blue cast which is so common in underwater pictures. I then did a little doctoring of the photo in photoshop, so the colors are a bit off/exaggerated.

I did the second dive today. We had all sorts of goodies. 3 eagle rays, large schools of fish, a school of probably 200 or more Heller's barracuda... lots of neat stuff.

I've got to head to bed... another class starts tomorrow.