Monday, February 15, 2010
Today's dive charter had great diving conditions. Cathy led the first dive and I did the second. On the second dive we did a one way dive (moor, put the divers in, then dive in one general direction and have the boat follow the bubbles and pick up the divers at the end of the dive) over an area I hadn't actually dove in one single dive before. We saw Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus) in a couple of spots on the dive.
Flame angels are a fish I'm quite familiar with from my days in the aquarium trade a couple decades back. We generally had Philippine flames in those days, the Hawaiian ones seem to be a bit deeper red. When I first moved here, the flame angels were few and far between. I'd see maybe 2-3 a year, mostly on shore dives I did, and almost none on the dive sites commonly frequented by the boats. Back in 2000 they established FRAs (fish replenishment areas) along 30 percent of the coastline on the west side of the Big Island. I don't know if the flame angels were heavily targeted by aquarium collectors (they're tough to catch because they dart into the coral) and whether that had a huge effect on the population, but around 2005/2006 we started seeing them more frequently, and now it seems we see them on the majority of our dives. They are no longer an uncommon sighting.
These are one of my favorite fish, they're very tough to get a decent shot of because they're so prone to darting off or into the corals the moment you're ready to take a shot, so I took a quick video of one just so you'd get an idea of how this fish acts.
I've got a pretty full dive charter tomorrow... it's time to snooze....zzzzzzzzz