Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Halfbeaks at Ho'okena

Yellowfin Surgeon,  Ho'okena Feb16, 2013
    Today is my birthday.  I have reached a certain age, so the exact number isn't critical.  But Sandra and I decided it was worth celebrating so we schlepped our aging bones out to Ho'okena.  We left nice and early so we arrived in time to park next to the handicap ramp.  Not that we're handicapped, but it's a really good spot.   

   After a delightful breakfast of banana bread with supplemental banana slices (the sweet Hawaiian bananas make this a real treat), we donned our swim gear and headed down the beach.  The waves were breaking with about 1 foot faces...not enough to trouble the snorkelkids.  Soon we were swimming through cool clear water.   Very cool, actually.  We were immediately rewarded with a school of
Acute Halfbeak  Hoo'kena February 2013
Yellowfin Surgeonfish.  The water was clear and they let us get pretty close resulting in this nice picture.  This fish is common at Ho'okena.  At the pier we routinely see Palani, but only rarely this large, handsome cousin.

     At this point we swam north across the beach front to the spot where the landing meets the reef, creating a wave tossed shallows.  As we approached, I saw a large school of beautiful blue fish swimming at the surface with some needlefish.  At first I thought, based on their size, color and numbers, that they were Heller's Barracuda, but the only place we have seen Heller's is at Honokohau in deep, still water.  The school let me swim right up to them and as they turned past me I could see the bright red point of their beaks.  "Polynesian Halfbeaks", I called to Sandra.We were treated to a wonderful close look in clear water, finally choosing to
Acute Halfbeak  Note the body color and fin position
swim away from the school. 

    After that treat, the remainder of the swim was pleasant, but disappointing.  For several years we have seen both Potter's and Flame Angelfish in the coral heads just off the landing.  This swim marked three in a row where we did not see these remarkable fish.  Has the water or coral changed?  Have aquarium fishnappers made off with our angels?   Whatever the reason, they aren't there any more.
    Also, about twenty minutes into our swim the water turned cloudy.  This is a curious phenomenon that happens all the time.  Sometimes it works the other way and the water clears.  I've never been able to make sense of why this happens, but I certainly prefer clear water!  So we swam home through the cloudy water, made an uneventful landing in the small surf.
Polynesian Halfbeaks,  Kailua Pier Feb 2012

   To top off a wonderful morning, we had a fine birthday lunch of tuna sandwiches in the shade of the bodhi tree.  Our dining companions were a charmingly tattooed and pierced young gentleman and his lady friend from Northern Virginia.  Eating sandwiches and chips purchased from the local concessionaire, they related that they were taking the winter off to camp in the parks on the Kona coast.  Far out.

     It wasn't until I got home and took a birthday nap while the camera soaked, that I got a chance to look at the pictures.  I had remarked to Sandra that due to the proximity and clarity of the water, that I thought these would be our best photos of Polynesian Halfbeaks.  As you can see, the photos we took today are really nice.  I was struck by how green these fish were.  We encounter Polynesian Halfbeaks occassionally in Kona (as recently as yesterday!) and they always seem silver and deeper bodied than our fish today.  Both Hoover and Randal state that the dorsal fin originates anterior of the ventral fin in Polynesian Halfbeak.  In both books this feature is not demonstrated  to my satisfaction.  In the Acute Halfbeak the fins are directly opposite.  In my photo from today, I think you will see this feature in the fish I'm calling Acute
Saddleback Butterflyfish, Kahalu'u Feb 2013
Halfbeak.  And they both note that the Acute is iridescent blue and has a shallower body.     I think we got a great look at a life fish!  What do you think?

     As a special birthday gift I'm including a pic of the Saddleback Butterfly taken at Kahalu'u last week.  That was the same day we saw the squid, which we have not seen on three subsequent attempts. 

    I hope all your birthdays are as rewarding as this one was for me.


No comments:

Post a Comment