Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harassed by Some Wrasse

My favorite fish to see are the wrasse family of fish. This is because they aren't shy and can be quite inquisitive especially when you find them near beds of rock, rubble and dead coral. When this happens you can pick up a rock and turn it over then tap it against other rocks to capture their attention. It becomes feeding time at that point and you can lure these very brightly colored fish in close enough for them to flick you with their tail, as one yellow tailed coris wrasse did to me! Enjoy the video it has lots of pictures of many different kinds of wrasse as well as pictures of Dennis and I diving and interacting with them. At the end of the video apparently a Hawaiian cleaner wrasse decided that something looked tasty on Dennis. Quickly he caught the cleaner wrasse on video trying to give him a bath.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Kids Like Sashimi

Ever since we lived in San Francisco, Dennis and I have been able to enjoy more high quality food experiences. With many restaurants in San Francisco known for their splendid atmosphere and exquisite food preparation and presentation, we have come to anticipate and enjoy everything that properly executed cuisine can offer. As we travel we always look to find fantastic establishments that offer the same or often better culinary experiences. 
That being said, we have also encouraged our children to eat any and everything. I almost never restrict their choice of food to the children's menu at any given restaurant simply because the kid's menu choices limit their ability to expand their taste. Often if something is tried once and disliked, I will reintroduce the same food again and again. Most of the time this teaches them to try new things. It also encourages the fact that although they might not like something the first time, they might like it prepared a different way or they will acquire a taste for something they thought they hated.
Throughout my experience in motherhood, I've found this to be both a blessing and a curse. Austin, now, expects to always be allowed to order anything from a menu, and that is usually fine unless he spies the fifty dollar lobster meal. Darby, who loves all things food, will order from either. Unfortunately she sometimes seems to gain weight faster than her brother, saved me from her doctor one day who assumed that she only ate chicken nuggets and french fries by speaking directly to him and saying, "I like broccoli." Well we have grown from broccoli, and when in Hawaii, fish is the fare of choice and more specifically, sashimi
We have eaten at Kenichi's before and the kids were looking forward to our return, only to find out that they were closed until after the fourth of July. So they anxiously awaited the one evening when we were able to enjoy company and food at the Japanese influenced Asian fusion establishment, the kids were thrilled. Darby immediately ordered the Kona Kampachi sashimi. Austin ordered the sashimi dinner which included a variety of freshly caught and served fish. Cara, who had never really had fish, let alone raw fish, was introduced to the helpings and offerings from both the kids and she herself ordered the seared Ahi and enjoyed it.

Of course when our drinks arrived with cherries atop, the kids ate the cherries and handed me their stems to knot in my mouth. It's a silly bar trick that I have fun doing because the kids find it fascinating that I can tie a knot with my teeth and tongue. So they watch in quiet bewilderment to receive the tied cherry stem all the while I've kept them happy and amused while awaiting the entrees. This time Cara and Darby both tried to tie knots in their own cherry stems. 

Austin eagerly handed me his to tie. He didn't want to be the one with the silly face.
The entrees finally arrived after we all had shared some sushi rolls, miso soup, and cherry stem tying. Darby and Austin gobbled down their raw fish and enjoyed every minute of it. Dennis and I had the Hawaiian seared ono with a mashed wasabi sweet potato and garnished with oyster mushrooms (I think) and ponzu foam. Cara delighted in her seared ahi, served rare with a soy reduction and white potato mash. It was so good I almost forgot to take pictures of the food. 
Darby... eating Kona Kampachi sushi!

What? It really is raw!? 

Austin... with his assortment of sashimi, ahi, salmon, o'paka'paka (red snapper), and kampachi

I just can't get enough good fish around here (in our little cowboy town in the foothills of the Sierras)! So, whenever we are in Hawaii it is almost always what I order. This night was no different and the ono was delicious. (That is why the Hawaiians call the fish that most people know as wahoo, ono Because in Hawaiian, "ono" means delicious.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Eels Eels Everywhere! In the Coral Reefs of Kona, Hawaii

The most typical eel to see and one can usually be found on each and every single dive is the white mouthed moray eel. Once in a while you will come across a few different varieties and this trip to Kona we encountered at least five. The eels we were delighted to see during many different dives included dwarf, snowflake, dragon, zebra, white mouthed, and a tiger snake eel. I put together a great video to collage and show the many different photos of these cool eels and one short video of me offering one my light strap to bite.

Finally, Photos of the Flame Angel Fish!

I already mentioned this photo in an earlier post where Luke literally laser pointed out a flame angel fish to me and the photo above is that exact moment. The following are photos of flame angel fish found during later dives but got better and better as the diving commenced. So without further ado... photos of flames!
They are very small and in order to photograph them the best we really had to keep our distance, you can click on each image to enlarge it to spot the flame angel but I also have a few that I've enlarged later in the post.

Austin Feeds a Trident's Trumpet Snail

Reading and experience has taught Austin that the Trident's Trumpet Snail eats crown of thorn sea stars, but also pin cushion stars. Knowing that crown of thorn sea stars are extremely poisonous Austin smartly opted for a pin cushion star he spotted and wanted to try and see if he could get the snail to digest. Did it work...

YEP!!! You can see just a little bit left of the pin cushion star under the bottom of the shell.

Diving Lone Tree Arch with Austin

Our second dive with Austin that day was to Lone Tree Arch and around Scull Caves. We stumbled across, yet again, more fish that we had yet to observe during any of our previous dives to the Kona coast. Above you see a photo of a devil scorpion fish with the brilliant colors of it's pectoral fins flashing as it moves to another location to sit in wait of prey.
Here it is still swimming but without the bright showing of it's fins.

It finally nestled itself between some coral and among some rubble and rock to blend in almost perfectly.
Can you spot him in the photo below???
These fish are masters of deception and camouflage this one was nestled at first just among some rocks and out in the open, as it were, until some of the divers got just a little too close and it displayed it's fins and moved. I had never seen one before, knowingly that is.
Here is another photo of a white-mouthed moray eel. They are so abundant here that now we just look for the extremely large ones as they can grow to four feet in length and probably have a girth of around twelve or so inches.
On this dive, while Dennis had the camera we found two more bandit angelfish. These endemic species were giving us quite the display as there were two on this dive at this site. These were amongst other fish and around sixty-five feet Dennis was able to capture some much better pictures because these two seemed uninterested in the fact that we were even there.

This is how much the coral changes to broken coral and rock before dropping off to the sandy bottom at around 70 feet. And you can see how the bandit angelfish blends in perfectly to it's surroundings here.

Once in a while we find some interesting items in the coral, this time it was a hermit crab.
Yet another first, and another rare fish to see, are these two saddleback butterfly fish. They were along the outside coral and rock formations of what makes up scull cave and I spotted them. Dennis and I were together at this point so we tried to get a little closer to get some better pictures of these really spectacular fish. Unfortunately I think they knew we were on to them and they high tailed it out of our site very quickly. I was able to crop and enlarge the photo somewhat so you can see what we spied. The photo below is the actual photo without enhancements.

Here again, a photo enhanced and cropped to show the two escaping our every move to get closer.

After that we noticed that Austin had tapped Luke and given him the low on air signal. I was so proud of my eleven-year old son who has the guts to dive, but not only that he has the presence of mind to be aware of his air and his depth and time. He has been trained to look at his gauges and understands how to read and understand them. Accordingly, he is also very calm and cautious and took care of the situation without panic or fear. He knew he needed to let his dive master know of his situation and then they shared air until I could get to Austin. Once I was closer I signed to Luke that I was getting low on air anyway and would take Austin back to the boat. It was even more interesting that Dennis and I had just completed our training and certifications for Rescue Diving and here I was already putting it into place and utilizing my new found knowledge.