Saturday, July 18, 2009

Keauhou Dive and Thurstons Wall Drift Dive

After mooring near the Sheraton in Keauhou (also where the southern manta ray night dive takes place) Dennis and I followed Mike, our dive master around this new site. We had never dove here during the day. On the fourth of July we dove the manta dive with Austin, who being recently certified was overcome with enthusiasm at the thought of his first night dive. Unfortunately we didn't take the camera with us during that dive. Dennis and I were more concerned with Austin's safety during the night dive to bother with getting a photo of him in the deep dark sea. In any event, we enjoyed this site during the day. The photo above is of a picture of what is known as a "bait ball" these are usually Mackerel Scad called opelu, or Bigeye Scad called akule. Diving as much as Dennis and I have been we've been present with many schools of fish however, this was the first time we had witnessed anything of this magnitude. The fish were so thick they drowned out the sunlight underneath. 

Here we are during our descent. I don't know why but we seem to take more pictures during this time more than during the dive, probably because we are looking for so many different things while actually diving.

"I'm OKAY!"

Mike found a hairy hermit crab to show us. It had a beautiful shell and it was another first that we had seen during this trip.

I love this kind of coral, so do white mouthed moray eels, sometimes they are quite small and you can hardly make them out amongst the similar structures of coral.

When they get larger though they become quite easy to spot. The white mouthed morays are probably the most common to see and during our first few dives in Kona we were excited to see them. After diving here so many times we now love to hunt for more varied species to photo. 
Here is another white mouthed moray allowing a cleaner wrasse to pluck algae or other parasites or dead tissue from the moray's mouth.

About sixty feet or so coral stops growing and sand begins the drop off into the deep ocean. We looked out all the time to see anything interesting, and by interesting I mean something very large like sharks, rays, turtles, or during the right season even whales. Alas, nothing to that size graced our presence, but we found some other interesting things to take photos of.

Just a pic of the ocean coral bottom at about 50 feet.
This trip I had given myself a few "must get" pictures before we left. The elusive, at least to me, potter's angel fish was one of those fish. Whenever I would spy one I'd ready my camera, aim in the direction of the fish only to find that it had scurried under or behind coral. This time I was able to capture a few pictures of what I consider a very pretty fish, even though it is relatively common.
Try #1 Swimming away (it's the orange and blue fish)
Try #2 At least he's swimming my direction this time...
Try #3 Beginning it's hide and seek with me... under a spiny sea urchin. But one of the better photos maybe I'll actually get a better one while we are here. 
Last time I found genre of critters to capture my interest. These are the nudibranchs of the ocean. They are usually smaller sea slugs, flatworms and just odd looking creatures that are usually so few and far between I wonder how they even survive to create others.

I've often said that many of my favorite fish are in the wrasse family. This was the first time I had seen a juvenile Psychedelic Wrasse. It is probably less than an inch long and seemed to flutter like a butterfly back and forth in the waves as we watched it. Obviously it was hard to get my camera to focus on such a tiny and continuously moving object, but here is what I came up with.
This picture is a cropped and larger version of the one below. 

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