Thursday, April 30, 2009

Humpbacks Encounter with Atlantis Submarine Tour off Lahaina, Maui

Promised Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are commonly seen along the Kona, Hawaii coastline from December through late March and early April. This is where they come to have their calves in the warmer climate during the winter months. Typically many whale watching charters are bustling during this time while tourists flock to see these extraordinary mammals breach and spout hoping to capture an image to keep, share, and tell their own whale tale. This is mine.

Knowing that this time of year it is very rare to see humpback whales, in fact, the pod these two were with have most likely started their migration back to the frigid waters of the northern Pacific, we were not expecting to see anything so majestic. Captain Jim, however, knew that some times there is a chance, all be it slim, that we might encounter something incredible reminded all of the divers to keep a look out for blow hole spouts, flutes, or anything that in anyway resembled a semi-truck in size gliding through the crystal blue waters that surrounded our vessel. We did as we were told but didn't see anything until Jim's keen eye spotted what he believed to be a whale spouting in the distance. He closed the gap somewhat, as humpbacks are endangered and then we saw her. The mother cow surfaced and I couldn't believe the beauty and elegance of what I was witnessing and then her smaller calf surfaced. The two came nearer to our boat and then were directly in front of the bow as they took their deep breath to dive for close to six minutes at a time before they would resurface for the baby calf to take another breath. 

This was the only day I took my Nikon D300 on the boat. I don't ordinarily take it on a boat for obvious reasons... salt water, wetsuits, ocean, tanks, gear, did I mention water.... needless to say I love my Nikon and I didn't want it to get wet. So I wrapped it in a huge clean towel, rather than my Nikon gear, threw a couple of extra lenses (wrapped in their own towels), and put it all in our somewhat waterproof AKona backpack to put in the forward compartment of the boat. I'm so glad I had it. I'm also happy the whales appreciated being photographed. I have a ton of pictures but here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Surreal Sunset

Hawaii is the place, well compared to Oakdale, for surreal sunsets. Although this was not taken this particular trip, it was taken north of Kona. I think this was taken from a scenic overlook while driving to Waimea... Actually, I might have just made Dennis pull over where ever we happened to be along the highway because I couldn't miss this setting... As I'm sitting here typing  actually we might not have stopped at all now that I think a little bit more on this subject. Because there was this one sunset that was so amazing I made him roll down the back window behind him and I took the picture from the front passenger side of the car aiming my lens through the back window because had he found an appropriate place to stop we might have missed it all together! One of my favorite sunsets ever!!!

Kona From a Distance and the Historic District of Keauhou

This is me taking in the breathtaking scene...

Historic markers are sometimes hard to find and usually poorly marked in Hawaii. However this scenic point off of Queen Kamehameha III highway is a simple stop with mind numbing views of Kailua-Kona to the north, the ocean and bay it overlooks and Ohi'a Cave the birthplace of the first King and most well known of Hawaii.

This historical marker tells a little of the caves that allowed, in times of war and unrest, a peaceful refuge. It also was the burial place for many generations of native Hawaiians even sometime through the 19th century.

Looking directly out from the outcropping you can see the lava crested beachfront and a long board paddler in the blue drink taking a break while the ocean rocks gently to the sand and rocks.
I'm always fascinated by the foliage that inhabits this black rock volcanic island. Kona is located on the leeward side of the island and doesn't accumulate as much precipitation as the Hilo or windward side. So I am sometimes astounded at the beautiful tropic gardens that over the years have nestled in the hard earth beneath.
This was a wild papaya tree (I think) clinging to the side of the very steep slope where this overlook was located. In the distance you see the infusion of current humanity nestled in and around Mount Hualalai leading to the bay in Kona seen below. It was a beautiful spot we didn't make our way to many land locations this trip but I'm glad I made an exception in this case.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

May You Never Have a Jellyfish Bad Day!

I have to thank Scuba Diver Girls for this entire blog post I didn't write any of it (including the title) but found it to be so entertaining I couldn't resist posting it here.



Scuba Diver Girls Margo and Stephanie would like to thank Scuba Diver GirlOcchi for emailing this funny story to us.

If you don’t laugh out loud after you read this you are in a coma!

This is even funnier when you realize it’s real! Next time you have a bad day at work think of this guy.

Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs.

Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to radio station 103.2 on FM dial in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.

Hi Sue,

Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you’ve been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it’s not so bad after all.

Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It’s a wet suit. This time of year the water is quite cool.

So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I’ve used it several times with no complaints. What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wet suit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It’s like working in a Jacuzzi.

Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse.

Within a few seconds my butt started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now, since I don’t have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn’t stick to it, however, the crack of my butt was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my butt.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator.

His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically. Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet.

As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn’t poop for two days because my butt was swollen shut.

So, next time you’re having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt.

Now repeat to yourself, “I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.”

Whenever you have a bad day, ask yourself, is this a jellyfish bad day?

May you NEVER have a jellyfish bad day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Ocean! Cliff notes from Eel Cove

Coral forms in such spectacular ways. Swimming through eel cove looking for eels I spotted this mushroom shaped coral in the distance and just thought it was gorgeous! I'm glad I snapped a picture of it. I mean it's always interesting to see the fish of course and how they interact with you and their own surroundings but sometimes we forget to observe the reef itself as it, too, is a living thing. This is probably one of my favorite pictures of the coral in all it's splendor with the deep ocean as it's backdrop.

These are pictures of (and I had to come home and look them up in my book) orangespine unicornfish. They are so graceful to watch and what is interesting about them is the fact that they have spines or spikes on their tail which can be used in defense. They also can show aggression by changing their body to a darker blue. After learning this I'm going to go back through all of my photos to see if I ever caught a glimpse change without my knowledge.

I think I found one!

During this dive as in many others we always dive deep first and then spend the remaining time in more shallow depths due to air consumption. This time Dennis caught me striking a "Vanna" pose while showing off the deep ocean beyond. Of course every time we started a dive it seemed that Dennis had the camera and so if anything awesome happened to swim by coming up from the depths below he was the photographer at that moment. Here at eel cove we were also lucky enough to see a spotted eagle ray casually swim south past us. I'm glad we were able to see another and catch even better photos.

Did you know that roses grow in the ocean??? Not really we found out later that this is in fact an egg sac and if I have time later I'll look it up again to see exactly what it spawns because right now I haven't got a clue. Dennis asked when we came up from the dive, "What was that red scrunchy thing it looked like a hair scrunchy..." So for now it is the rose red scrunci!
Caught a picture of a cleaner wrasse with a parrot fish. I couldn't believe it they won't stay in one place for me to take a picture of them but they'll stay in one place for these cleaners. I guess it was spa day... Can you believe all the fish? This was a great dive site!!!

Finally, Dennis got pictures of me with some of those pesky raccoon butterfly fish. I was swimming along and they just shuffled in front of me like tour guides! It was really funny.

There will be another posting from this dive site later specifically because of the name. As we were searching for eels here indeed we found plenty but I'd like to post all of the pictures of the variety in one post. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Carousel Mooring Dive Site Monday April 12th

This particular mooring is also along the Pawai Bay aquatic sanctuary and is called such because of the formation of a cave that resembles the way a carousel looks. You enter one side of the cave and go around the center support and out the other side.
There are I took a quick pic of Vinny our dive master for this structure and also of an opening to the lava tube that was directly overhead and about two or three feet across that went straight to the surface and the jagged lava rocks overhead. I was also able to capture a few more photos of some fun fish that intrigue me the parrot fish, who, for what ever reason is excessively camera shy and always darts away from my lens. I finally got at least one of him. Another fish I came across this time that perhaps didn't catch my attention any other time was the peacock grouper. This "roi" as the Hawaiians call it was very pleased to have his picture taken. No sooner had I taken one, he assumed that perhaps I would like a glimpse of his other side!

Black and white is no more uninteresting than the brightly colored and marked of the most prized fish in my opinion. the Hawaiian dascyllus is one of these fish. Their black and white markings fade as they grow into maturity but as juvenile fish they are simply striking. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Food Feast at Roy's Fusion from Monday

I have food on my mind...

Let's go out to eat!

There are so many fabulous restaurants to eat on the big island that sometimes it is hard to choose where to go. Dennis and I have particular taste for fine food and more specifically delicious fish. We often look to our friends at Big Island Divers to recommend some more locally known places rather than the restaurants that are frequented by vacationers. At least being somewhat seasoned travelers to this island we know many of these and on Monday evening we traveled to Waikaloa just north of Kona to eat at Roy's.

Now we've eaten here before and it was much enjoyed and the food was interesting in variety and flavor. So we decided to come back. After about five dives behind us on Monday, Sunday was our night dive and all we ate was a subway sandwich, I was in anxious anticipation of this nights faire. Smartly enough I even had the presence of mind to grab the camera to take pictures of the delicious treats.
Edemame served warm with a slightly spicy oil drizzled over these favorites of my kids.
We ordered a platter of three or four different appetizer teasers and we were so hungry that we ate all but the egg rolls by the time I remembered to take a picture. Yes, the rest of the food on the plate was just as exotic looking and wonderfully tasty.
I ordered mahi mahi seared rare that was accompanied with pineapple and port infused tapioca. It was just the right amount of sweet salty and sour. I think I ate the whole plate.

Dennis ordered the trio of entrees including rare seared ahi, which is usually my choice, and kona kampachi. His dish too was wonderfully flavored and he enjoyed his dinner as much as I did mine.
This, however, is the reason we came back to Roy's. They have a chocolate souffle (that I consider more of a lava cake than a true souffle) in any case it is so rich that it probably has like 3000 calories all on it's own. Add to that raspberry sauce and some vanilla ice cream to cut through the deep chocolate and you have one of my favorite desserts.
At the end of the dinner and directly across from Roy's is a gallery that I always like to visit. I found some new artists there that were particularly impressive to me and inspiration I find in these places goes home with me and hopefully into my own art work.