Friday, February 27, 2009

The whales are still in Kona in good numbers....

Just a quick post to let you know the blog's still alive... busy doing other stuff the last few days.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Typical reef scene out on the edge of a drop off in Kona.....

The other day I decided to set down the camera on a rock and swim away for a couple minutes before returning. It's a neat coincidence that a spotted eagle ray swam through the video right before I came back in the scene.

I need to figure out how to do a custom white balance with the G9, I've just never tried since I've been shooting all my stills in RAW and can adjust them after the fact. I'm guessing the video will look pretty sharp once I can figure out how to get white balance right at depth.

If you enlarge the video (by clicking on the box in the lower right when you put your cursor on the video) it's almost like being there. No whales were singing near the site on that day, bummer.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Had a whale of a day today....

Unfortunately not underwater though. We saw whales in between our dives and after our dives, and while our divers were down on dive number two, I managed to get a couple shots off.

Keep in mind,

this was done with a point and shoot camera at an extreme distance. The whales were
almost a half mile out beyond the mooring I was tied off to. These pictures were taken beyond the normal optical zoom. I've got a 2X optical lens I may have to try on the boat, but the better option would be to be lucky enough to have the whales randomly breach very close to the boat just as I was taking a picture pointed in their direction. Anyway, I'm just happy to have them coming out of the water.

Fun, fun, fun.

So people occasionally wonder how to find my blog. It's pretty easy to find just by googling the words kona, scuba and blog in one search, but I do get a kick on how people sometimes accidentally find my blog. I can look up recent search phrases, sometimes the phrases people search for are kind of fun... Here's one from the other day "crazy people diving in water from big hills"... I don't know if they were searching for cliff divers or what, but I place quite well in that search. I'm continuously surprised at how many people search for "hawaii otters", every couple of months I get someone finding my blog searching with this phrase. Once again, I come up quite well on this phrase, based on one post quite a while back, they're in for either a chuckle or a let down - if you try it and find a post you've not seen yet, give the video a look. There's been lots of others that get me wondering... I'll try to post the fun search inquiries from time to time.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beautiful day on the water yesterday.... A little on Doc's Pro Plugs for ear problems...

No whale action, but we did catch a glimpse of a large manta on the surface at the end of the second dive. The water conditions were excellent, maybe a degree warmer than a couple days back actually, as Bob's temp gauge jumped up to 75 from 73 the other day.

I've been sitting up top for a while, a strange lower abdominal pull and such, and started diving again last week... only to come down with an ear infection. I guess it's time to invest in another pair of Doc's Pro Plugs to wear when the ears heal up in a couple days. Normally you'd never wear ear plugs when diving as there's a good chance you'll cause yourself lots of damage, but years back a surfer dude/doctor invented some plugs to help keep surfers from getting ear infections, when someone suggested diving he thought about it and realized they'd have to be perforated to allow pressure transfer. They don't keep your ears dry, just limit the amount of continuous water exchange. I've used them in the past and they seem to help, especially with equalizing rapidly. They're handy if you're prone to ear infections or if you have troubles equalizing. I use them when I teach a lot and am going to have to do a bunch of CESAs (controlled emergency swimming ascents) with students. I've lost my share of plugs, it generally only happens with I'm removing my mask for teaching skills and the plug string gets caught on my mask strap and I forget, under normal diving situations I've never lost them. You should be able to find them in your local dive or surf shop, if not I'm pretty sure they sell them direct on line.... just make sure you get the vented plugs for diving.

Here's a shot of a Peacock Flounder (Bothus mancus) on a rock from the other day. I had to take 6-7 shots just to get this - they're really tough to get a decent picture of because they have a knack for landing on light gray rocks and then blending in to match, it's tough to get the exposure right to where the patterns and color show up. This pic doesn't do them justice when it comes to color.



Friday, February 13, 2009

Any paraskavedekatriaphobiacs out there? What are you doing today?

I just now realized it's Friday the 13th. I've no plans to alter my day so far.... not unless I see any black cats anyways.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm breaking out the candles..... KABOOM!!!!!

We've got some real loud thunder right now. The evening news talked about heavy rain on the Big Island, and we weren't seeing a drop. Well, it's been about 40 minutes and suddenly we're really getting the thunder, the rain just started a minute or so ago. We don't get lightning storms that often, but when we do it seems our neighborhood gets some power troubles so I'm preparing.

Here's another clip from the other day diving with whales singing in the background. Turn it up and you may hear them. The clip itself is of a Moorish Idol (Zanclus cornutus). These beautiful fish are the only member of their family, which has similarities to both tangs and butterflyfish in many respects.

As I'm posting, the lightning has subsided but the rain's starting to really come in. I have a charter tomorrow, one really nice thing about diving in Kona is that rain rarely effects our diving - the viz generally stays good as there's little to no runoff here.

We'll see if the power holds through the new episode of "Lost" (one of about two or three shows I watch) coming up in 40 minutes.



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just got back from Honolulu.....

I went to a meeting today in Honolulu... up since 4am and I'm getting a bit sleeeeepy, but I wanted to post a pic real quick. The meeting was for HIRSA's industry day. It was held at a hotel on Waikiki and I just couldn't resist stepping out for about a minute during lunch to take a quick picture.



Monday, February 09, 2009

Taking a "day off" tomorrow....

Here's a Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri) I took on a short dive the other day. They make reasonably willing and colorful subjects as long as you have a flash that can reach a couple of feet - get too close and it's off to the races. The onboard flash on the Canon G9 is fine for these type of pictures.

So I'm headed over to Oahu for the day tomorrow to go to the local scuba association's annual industry day. I'd never been and thought it was about time. This is going to entail a real early wake up call for me. Left to my own devices, I'd probably stay up 'til 1am and wake up at 9am, but to get charters together at 9am I pretty much have to be up by 6:00 these days. I'm going to have to be to the airport by 5:45 tomorrow, which means a 4am rising for me, so I'm probably going to have to be to bed real early tonight. I'm going up the hill to walk the Captain Cook Monument trail, at least a good portion of it... that'll wear me out.

I'm glad airfares are down now. I managed inter-island round trip for just under 68 bucks... it was up to over $120 each direction at one point. As long as you are willing to fly early or late there's some pretty good deals nowadays since the airlines are fighting each other.



Saturday, February 07, 2009

Testing...facebook video embedding... plus whale song sounds on underwater video...

OK, now that seemed to work.

Today was a great day out on the water. We had an 8-10 foot northwest swell so we decided to head south and go around the corner of Kaiwi point and dive sharkfin rock and Pawai Bay for the day, it was nice and relatively calm in there. The divers came up from the first dive very excited about all the whale singing, so when we moved over to the second dive site I took a "captain's dive" while they had lunch on their surface interval with Cathy.

Boy were the whales loud!!! I half way expected them to show up out of the blue at any time. Turn up the volume and listen between my breaths on this video and you can hear them. The sound of the whales through the camera housing doesn't do them justice, it was quite loud underwater.

While the divers were on their second dive I was up top on the boat and had a couple of whales swam to within 30 feet or so of the boat... very cool. They went right towards where Cathy had taken the group but probably cut outside when they hit the corner our group was around so the divers missed them.

This video clip is of a Lined Butterfly (Chaetodon lineolatus). These are Hawaii's largest butterflyfish species, reaching up to a foot or so in length. We typically see them in pairs, this one's partner was just a few feet out of the shot.



Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lots of whales off Kona right now....

Here's a great shot of a real attractive nudibranch that Pat took some time back. It's of a Trembling Nudibranch (Chromodoris vibrata). We don't see these critters nearly often enough, I think I have one picture from several years ago posted a couple years back on the blog somewhere.

We had a bit of a slow spell at the end of January but we're back out on the water for at least 5-6 days straight right now. It gets sporadic during the slow season, March is looking to be hopping though as I've already got nearly 20 days partially booked already.

Tuesday we went out with just a single diver. It's not something we're crazy about, but when someone books well in advance I can usually get other people on and I'm not going to cancel on them at the last minute just because I'm out of luck on a day. That single diver turns into the 2nd, 3rd or 4th diver on the boat more often than not, so it's very worth keeping them even if we have to risk going out solo every now and then. When we do have just a single diver, it does give us an opportunity to cater to them though. We did a nice one way drift dive off the airport and then went to Bob's favorite dive site (spaceship/pyramid pinnacle/pinetrees pinnacle/harlequin or whatever it's called) for the second. They were hearing whales on the dive underwater while I was seeing them topside while I was captaining (aka "sitting on the boat"). I saw about 9 different whales that day.

Yesterday we had more passengers and dove off Pawai Bay for the first dive and then popped into Crescent beach for the second dive.... lots of good stuff for the divers, at one point they had 20 or so dolphins hanging around them during the dive. It's always a thrill to see dolphins under the water.

Tonight it's a manta trip and then back to day charters the next few days. It's good to be back out there for a spell.