|Does this beach look closed? Sunbathers and boogie boarders at White Sands. Picture SKG|
Two days ago our Sandwich Islands politicians finally addressed the pandemic, closing many of the local beaches. Sandra thought we should take a spin along Alii Drive to see what our favorite beaches looked like under the new restrictions. Kahalu'u, guarded by a variety of maintenance workers and lifeguards, was indeed empty. But other places like White Sands Beach sported tourists tanning and boogie boarders playing in the waves. We only have 5 cases of Covid-19 on the Big Island, but it seemed down right unpatriotic for people to use these closed parks.
|A lone keiki on the sand at the King Kam|
In front of the King Kamehameha Hotel, the beach was virtually empty. One lone mother sprayed her daughter with sunscreen following which the chubby little girl frolicked down the sand to the Inner Harbour.
Up at the showers, I had the pleasure of watching a down and out kapuna finish his laundry, soaping and scrubbing a sweater on the concrete shower floor while the water ran wide open. Is this where I want to take my chances against the dreaded Covid-19?
|In a couple hours I have to get up, pee and wander around the house.|
Last night, in response to its failing battery, my cell phone chimed at 2 AM. This is about the time that, like Bob Newhart in the Big Bang theory, I get up to roam around the house. You know... do the dishes, paint a butterfly, work on the blog, etc. So dealing with the pager in the wee hours was no problemo. Imagine my nocturnal pleasure when I saw an invitation from our good friends up in Kapa'au; Would we like to meet in the morning for a swim at Kawaihae? Wood eye!? It had been three weeks since I had been snorkeling. How exciting!
We arrived at the harbor to find a virtual gale blowing out of the south. On a happier note, the sun was out and a wind surfer was racing back and forth. Considering that in the winter windy conditions are frequently present at this otherwise patch of flat water, its surprising that we haven't seen a wind
surfer here before.
Both Sandra and Marla opted out of swimming in the wind, so Peter and I put on our neoprene and headed in to the harbor. The wind was moving the surface water at a fine clip, so it took only a few strokes to make it out to the first platform. On my first time around the platform I spotted a small decorated nudibranch. For some reason I recalled my youth, ever so long ago, when I would go fishing with friends. Back then a wave of relief always accompanied the landing of the first fish. Never mind if it was a three inch chub. That was OK. "At least we didn't get skunked!" This solitary decorated would be the only nudibranch we found on this day.
|Trembling Nudibranch, Kawaihae February 2020. 25 feet. photo Bob Hillis|
On the second platform I found a curious little fish harboring near a small cauliflower coral. As you can see, he was mostly clear, possibly evolving from a larval stage with his sights set on becoming a mature fish. This is an odd little fellow and we will need to do some research before we put a name on him.
The wind wasn't abating. Every now and then I would surface, only to be hit in the face with spray blowing off the whitecaps. This was remarkably like having someone spray you in the face with a garden hose. Forcefully. Of course, when you have a mask to protect your eyes, and the right attitude, it can be a bit of fun... in a wet, off beat sort of way.
|Every good snorkel needs a mystery fish.|
The third platform didn't reveal much and so Peter and I made the swim across the harbor to the shoreline mauka to the landing platform. On my last visit I saw a Philippine mantis shrimp in this area. Like some sort of aquatic centipede, it crawled out from under and then over the coral for a few seconds before disappearing. This was only my second mantis shrimp in Hawaii. On this day the best thing in the coral was a juvenile Paletail Unicornfish. Well, you can't see a mantis shrimp every time.
Soon, Peter and I had crawled out of the black lagoon and made our way up to the car park. Curiously, Sandra and Marla were nowhere to be seen. I took this moment to reach back to 1974 and whip out a quote from Blazing Saddles. This quote was appropriate to the absence of our femmes blanche, but, as it came from Blazing Saddles, was not appropriate in any other sense. I'm not sure Peter, who usually keeps up handsomely with my warped dialogue, recognized the source. As such, he evinced a mild embarrassment as he provided me with a gallon of warm water and
|For my next impression : Jesse Ownens|
We enjoyed a quick visit with the young familia On and made eyes at baby Naia, all the time maintaining our six feet of social distancing. I promise to get another blog in less than three weeks, but it ain't gonna be easy.
|Decorated Nudibranch March 2020 At least we didn't get skunked!|