|Stocky Hawkfish Looking Up. Kahalu'u December 2018|
A few days ago Sandra and I went down to Kahalu'u, our first time back there since we returned from the mainland. Sandra wore her wet suit, but the water really wasn't all that cold, still around 80, and it was fairly clear. There were plenty of fish, but nothing especially noteworthy. I saw one of those small shrimp that like to perch on the coral, only to disappear by the time one has his camera adjusted for a shot. As the shrimp had vanished I took a picture of his surrogate, the stocky hawkfish who was hanging out nearby. Its a pretty exposure and I hope you will forgive me for showing you a picture taken from above. The stocky hawkfish is not especially rare, but it is a bit skittish...it is very unusual to dive down to get a side view without Mr. Stocky slipping into the coral.
While I was getting my shower, Sandra put the camera to good use, nabbing this picture of the
|Playing Ukuleles Island Style photo courtesy of the Redoubtable SKG|
Two days later we met Peter and Marla at Ho'okena. For us it was the doable 40 minute drive. For them, coming all the way from Kapa'au, it was almost two hours. In hopes of having mild surf conditions, we made this excursion on Saturday. Getting there around 9 AM, there was still plenty of parking and we were able to nab a spot at the table under the banyan tree. There really is nothing like sitting in the cool shade right by a beautiful beach in Hawaii. I don't mean to be boastful, but its
|With Kroppjean Patience and Persistence.|
Our friends had made this long journey with some good fish watching in mind. Suffice it to say I felt a small amount of pressure. But not to worry, Ho'okena yielded up its four specialties: flame angelfish (which lives in a large coral head with its cousin the Potter's angelfish), garden eels and bridled and gilded triggerfish. It took Marla to spot the first flame angel. After that the four specialties fell like dominoes. The water was clear and its always fun to swim with friends, but we did not see anything unusual.
Towards shore, on the way out, Sandra and I encountered a really nice finescale triggerfish...big and creamy white. Naturally this shy species made getting a good picture as difficult as she could.
We also saw a school of keel tailed needlefish. Keeltails are the most commonly encountered
|Big, Blue Keeltailed Needlefish Ho'okena December 2018|
By the time I was done enjoying them, my compatriots had deserted me and I made my way ashore unaccompanied.
Back at our table in the shade, we ate an early lunch and looked at each other's pictures. On this day, Peter was shooting with a Sony camera in a housing. And he was also wearing what looked like six pounds of lead...maybe more. Suffice it to say I was out gunned. He showed us a killer picture of
|Bali. Come for the fish. Return for the people.|
picture of the gilded trigger.
As you may know from reading this blog, Peter and Marla liked Bali so well that they went back, having returned to the Big Island about the same time we returned from Mexico. We were still debriefing them and uncovered a useful detail. They did not have a driver pre-arranged; when they arrived in Denpassar they chose a likely lad from the mob of solicitors that one encounters as he leaves customs. Is this more dangerous than hailing a taxi on the streets of Mexico City? Looked at in the proper pessimistic light, either one might seem foolish heading towards a death wish. On the other hand, this seems to have worked out fine. they used the man from the mob for a couple more transfers and then picked up another driver off the street, maybe in Ubud, and used him for several more transfers, going as far as Pemuteran. And back. Which despite the excellent snorkeling on the north west
|The Coral Croucher outside the late Paul Allen's lagoon. Finally!|
The government of Indonesia sends me 200 rupiah (approximately 10 cents US) for each one of you that I talk into going to Bali, so I have a vested interest in passing on these travel tips.
Which brings us to yesterday.
In the morning we hosted my long lost friends from Salem Hospital to a delicious Hawaiian breakfast. Bagels from Safeway, muffins from Costco, POG from Target and Yuban dark roast. We did at least throw in some yummy papayas from the market by the library. I had not seen these two ladies in what we calculated to be 12 years, but happily we were all in acceptable condition and we had a wonderful time talking about Hawaii and Salem and what not. After I forced them to look at the fish on the Christmas tree and the bathroom wall (this fish thing really has gotten out of hand) we loaned them some powerful fins and
|Potter's Angelfish looking out of his Coral Cave. Paul Allen's Reef December 2018|
I thought that they were going to rent masks at Snorkel Bob's and spend the rest of the day acquainting themselves with their new equipment. As Sandra and I arrived at the pier an hour or so later, I texted Kathy to let her know that she could borrow an underwater camera on Wednesday. She texted back saying that they were at the Harbor House (drinking beer and eating giant hamburgers.) So I'm not so sure they took that introductory swim. Get with the program!
I texted back, "Have a Firerock for me!" and headed into the Inner Harbour in front of the King Kam Hotel, where the water was now on the south side of eighty.
|The usual look at a speckled scorpionfish. December2018, Kailua Pier|
That last word comes from the Cuban classic, Guantanamera. In the traditional lyrics, it is a buck deer that is searching for his monte amparo. Mountain hideaway to the Spanglishly challenged. In my lyrics, and it is well within the Cuban tradition to write new lyrics to Guantanamera, it is a pes en la bahia, que busca un coral amparo. Suffice it say, in whatever language one chooses, this pair of crouchers is well established in their amparo. And, at last, Ive got proof.
The swim wasn't over. Around the point, I looked for the yellowtail filefish without success. I then swam ten yards off shore to look for Potter's angel. I didn't see one, by I took notice of a lone staghorn coral growing bravely among all the detritus of his bygone relatives. I dove to take a look at what he might be harboring and suddenly off to my left was a Potter's. This guy was nosing in and out of a small window in the dead coral and allowed me to photograph him on three dives before disappearing. This was only about 12 feet deep, so it was a
|Speckled Scorpionfish Sebastapistes coniorta. Kailua Pier December 2018|
Finally it was time to head for the barn. As I approached the breakwater, I found another cauliflower coral to examine. To my delight, there was, in addition to coral blenny, a fine speckled scorpionfish living in the folds of the coral. This species is sort of like the coral croucher: obscure, small and hides in Pocillipora coral. In each respect, the speckled scorpion is a bit less so, but still it is a fishwatcher's fish to be sure and no one else would be aware of it.
|The five stripe wrasse shoots up the side of a rock.|
These were ideal conditions. the water was clear and not moving very fast, the coral was only four feet down and there was a firm piece of dead coral nearby to use for a hand hold. On my first attempt I got the fish in its usual attitude, lying across the leaf with its head facing down. On my second attempt, he moved, lacing his body flat across a recess. However, form the standpoint of hiding, he made a poor choice and ended up in a spot where he was still accessible to my prying camera. Snap, snap, snap. And whadya know? Not a shabby picture of a species devilishly difficult to photograph. And don't you just love the coral blenny peering from around the corner?
In putting together the blog, I had the chance to search for the species name in John Hoover's book. It is a testimony to how difficult this fish is, that the picture you see here is dramatically better than John's. Did I just break my arm patting myself on the back? Maybe.
Thinking that it had been a wonderfully productive swim, I made it over the rip rap and into the
|Five Stripe Wrasse. Thallasoma quinquevittatum Kialua Pier December 2018|
So variable is this fish, that John Hoover provides four pictures in his book. Our fish corresponds well to the initial phase, male or female photograph.
In my defense, not only is this fish always fast moving and found in surging water, but it is extremely variable in coloration. Back on the beach at Ho'okena, the persistent Peter Kroppje noted that frequently we are taking pictures of fast moving fish in moving water. Hence, nothing is still and the result is bound to be blurry. Unknowingly, he described this situation in spades.
At last the swim was done and we headed for shore. But I had one more treat in store. As I finished my shower a veritable giant approached. Over seven feet tall, he hung a purple bag on one of the
|Uncle Tui is now the quartebacks coach for Cal.|
Thanks to you all for being such patient and persistent readers. We wish you a Merry Fishmas and a micro-brew beer.