Saturday, July 25, 2009

Diving Pawai Ocean Sanctuary with Austin

Since last December when Austin became certified to scuba dive, he has been itching to get back into the ocean. We took him with us on a couple of dives without Darby so that we could all enjoy diving and not have to worry about someone having to snorkel and be left out of the scuba fun! One of our first stops was to the Pawai Bay area. This fish sanctuary is full of life and sometimes, on occasion, even when you have dove this site more times than you can count, you will come across a new fish you've never seen before. Like this one. This is the first photo of the first bandit angelfish I have ever seen in Hawaii.
They are usually found below 150 feet and since diving reefs only allows to a maximum depth of 60 to 70 feet they are rarely seen. They are also very secretive and once they sense the presence of a diver they will dart away and deeper. Before I knew it I was following this one to a depth of about 85 feet. I couldn't go farther than that because I was diving with nitrox and my computer was screaming at me!
Austin found and pointed out this segmented flatworm. He has a very keen eye and has read Hoover's Hawaiian Reef Fishes book from cover to cover and seems to know it inside and out. He will dive and come up and say did you see this fish or this fish or underwater will point and try to talk despite having a regulator in his mouth about the fish or underwater creature he is encountering.

This is a spotted coral blenny above. But below is my prize... and I'll have an entire blog post about this interesting and rare fish. Before we started this dive I told dive master Luke that I wanted to see a bandit angel fish and a flame angel fish. Luke, being the amazing dive master that he is was happy to oblige on this particular dive everything I asked to see I was able to see and even photograph! 
Now, in order to fully appreciate the rare seen that is shown in the photo above you might want to click on it to enlarge it on your screen. Luke came fully prepared with a laser light, yes, a laser light to point out items of significance while diving. Here, in this photo, I have a picture of the flame angel fish facing me with Luke's laser light beam shining right on it! While the other divers in the group went around a few other areas of interest I stayed right where I was waiting to see more of this most reclusive fish. He would pop out from time to time but before I could get the camera situated on him he was gone again under coral or lava rocks. Luckily this wasn't the only flame angel we would come across this trip!
After my excitement over finding the two fish I had wanted to see already, I started to look around at some of the other tropical fish and considered what I've seen a lot and some that I hadn't necessarily taken the time to notice. The picture above of a damsel fish called the white-tail chromis was one of those fish. 
Austin has learned after diving here and logging more than 15 dives in his short diving career that he can pick up these pin cushion stars. They are really interesting and have diverse colors and I think Austin feels very secure in his knowledge of diving and animal life to know what he can and shouldn't touch. He also is very conservative and protective of the marine environment and is happy to enjoy the dives and animals but also respect it.
Here is another nudibranch Austin came across. 
He also spied a big white-mouthed moray eel.
They always look so intimidating and definitely their bite is louder than their bark. Keep your fingers away from these things!
Finally captured a little better image of a potters angelfish.  Although this is cropped and enhanced from the same picture below it seems that angelfish simply don't care to have their photo taken.

Back on board, Austin is wondering where to next!!!
He is my cool scuba buddy!

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