|The Familia Marino Snorkel Kawaihae Harbor|
Mike arrived bright and early, along with Angie and their god-daughter, Melanie, a San Diego neighbor. This trip was a sort of graduation (from high school ) gift for Mel. What nice people! Mike helped haul our gear up to the minivan where we greeted Angie and Melanie. At 17, Melanie was tall, gangly, forthright and well presented and just a bit cute. There wasn't a trace of the attitude that one fears to encounter in teenage girls. Refreshing.
We all piled into their rented minivan and Mike drove us north to Kawaihae. The drive went fast as Mike regaled us with the details of a recent guys trip...he, Melanie's brother (a god-son) and Mike's brother had made their way to Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of
|A beautiful blue sponge at Kawaihae, September 2019|
I had texted Hai, the godfather of Kawaihae, hoping that he and Lottie might join us. They weren't there, which wasn't a huge surprise given the late invitation. Still hopeful that they might arrive, the five of us made it down to the water. Melanie is tall and fit; even though we hadn't grilled Mike about her swimming skills, we were confident that she would do well. Mike had worked with Bob Hillis as a lifeguard in the California State Parks; if anyone could vouch for a swimmer he ought to be the guy.
|Infant fish swim under the second platform Watch your head!|
The water was warm, maybe 85 degrees, and surprisingly clear. Melanie plunged right in and when I spotted a yellow margin moray poking his nose out of a joint in the landing, she dove down and looked at him from about five feet away. It was her first moray, in fact it was her first Hawaiian swim, so she didn't loose too many points for being timid.
Out on the first pylon, I found a nice red cushion starfish. Not uncommon at Kawaihae, the cushion star was a first for the Marinos. Sandra spotted a mature scribbled filefish that vanished before anyone else could see it. A pattern is developing here and I'm thinking she
|A beautiful milletseed in clear water. Kawaihae Harbor 2019|
In any event, nobody saw a nudibranch, real or imaginary around the first platform, so we headed out to platform two.
Mike was pretty interested in the platforms as a mooring device and I think he had fun imagining a great big landing craft with its ramp down on the landing pad and tied up to the three platforms. For the rest of us, the tide was rising and the huge fenders that the army has placed to fend off the landing craft were becoming an obstacle as we surfaced from our dives.
On the second platform we ticked off the wire coral goby (it jumped when I pointed at it
|Pink sponge at Kawaihae Second Platform|
Both Sandra and Angie were interested in a school of small silvery fish. I found them swimming in and out around the pillars. Peter had mentioned infant fish in this location and when we got home we verified that this is what these little fish were. for those of you playin' a drinking game at home...Life Fish!
The third platform was more of the same so we headed across the harbor where we showed off the orange cup coral. On the way back, a female swimmer passed our group
|Painted Nudibranch at Kawaihae "There you are!"|
Back at the platforms, I found Sandra, but as far as I could tell our group had dispersed. Right away I spotted a tiny painted nudibranch. Imagine one arm of a bobby pin. Now cut it in half. Paint this fragment gray and put it on a low pile carpet of the same hue. I called Sandra, and then couldn't find the damn nudibranch. I searched for five minutes but he had apparently slunk into the low pile carpet of foulin organisms.
My beloved had had enough fun and said she was going in. As far as I could tell, I was out there by myself.
On the middle of the second pylon I found a bigger painted nudibranch clinging to the pillar above the level of the fouling. It was getting to be high tide, I was under the center of the platform and when I surfaced there was about nine inches of air between me and the
It was Lottie. She explained that Hai was on shore, having forgotten his swim suit. she came and looked at my nudibranch and then swam to the end of the platform, dove down and surfaced, saying, "Here's another one!"
I swam around to the south end of the platform and Lottie pointed down to some old rope attached to a brace at the foot of the pillar. When I am swimming out there, I frequently wonder, what would happen if I dropped my camera. I had imagined that it was fifteen to twenty feet deep. So there I was. What does one do when a charming young lady wants you to swim to the bottom?
Lottie dove down fifteen feet or more, pointed to a spot on the frayed, old rope and then it was my turn. Luckily (or is it un-luckily) the weights enable one to keep going down, regardless of other issues. I made it to the spot, at least three feet deeper than I have gone before, took a quick picture. I held onto the camera, so I didn't need to go the additional couple feet to the actual bottom. I swam back to the surface and confessed to Lottie that I didn't actually
|Decorated Nudibranch First Platform, Kawaihae Harbor|
Well, we all survived the Peter Benchley Experience. I asked her what she saw and she said that she thought it was the same one. Which I presumed was a painted.
We swam together to the first platform where Lottie immediately found a small decorated nudibranch halfway around a pillar. As I was attempting a picture of that one, she called me, saying she had found a second more out in the open. The camera and I did our best work on that one and then it was time to go in.
As we arrived at the landing, it was apparent that Hai and Mike had become close friends, standing deep in conversation on the landing pad, while Angie and Melanie reclined on the table. It was bright mid day sun, so Sandra, being a good Hawaiian, had gone back to the park in search of shade.
|The Lottie Trap. A pair of feather dusters cling to the landing pad.|
This might be a good time to end the blog, but I've got one more piece. After a short rest and a bite to eat, I went swimming off the stairs on the ocean side with the Marinos. I had been led to believe that this was pretty good habitat with some good fish. In fact, it was a dead reef with very little coral and fish. the inside is infinitely better, but the ocean made for a refreshing swim.
Kawaihae Harbor is truly the best kept secret.
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