Monday, December 31, 2007

Maui, Day 3 - I finally get to dive!

Bob and I went diving today. The weather was terrible. It pretty much rained all morning. There wasn't much of a swell. Our dive boat with twelve divers ended up inside Molikini Crater, my least favorite dive site. The coolest thing is the garden eels. They sit facing into the current eating plankton that floats by. They are really hard to photograph because the closer you get, the further they retreat into their holes.

We did see one more cool fish that I can't identify yet. I had to leave my fish ID books at home to keep within Airline weight allowances.

After these two encounters, I felt like an airliner circling the airport burning fuel until it has a light enough load to land. Eventually I reached 700psi and we went up.

The second dive was a patch reef called Marty's Reef. There was a bit more life here, even though it wasn't overwhelming. There were several cleaning stations, accepting customers both large and small.

There was a nice looking Whitemouth Moray who had wormed himself out from under a big section of coral. He looked like the entire patch reef had been dropped on top of him pinning him in the sand.

And last, a bit of wide angle with this school of Squirrelfish who were hanging over the reef.

They may be named after squirrels, but they sounded like housecats. There was a continuous purring/grunting noise when I was near them. Here is a link to what one squirrelfish sounds like.

Imagine a hundred of them vocalizing at the same time. Apparently the sounds of the squirrelfish is a popular research topic, since Google turned up lots of hits.

So all in all, it wasn't a great day diving, but as they say - "A bad day diving is the still better than a good day at work". I don't know if I will use this dive operation again. Most of the issues were weather related, but I still wasn't impressed by the divemaster/guide. I guess I'll go back to Ed Robinson next time.

Until next time, Mahalo for dropping by and reading my ramblings.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maui, Day 2

Another day without diving - but at least there's snorkeling! Today's turtle count was at least four, maybe five. All in one hour of snorkeling. I saw a couple of new creatures that I hadn't seen before - a scrawled filefish and a couple of nudibranches. My camera battery ran out so I didn't get any pictures of the nudis. Here's a short movie of one of the turtles.

The big moray from Day 1 was still in the same spot. The smaller moray under the coral head was gone, but there was a different species of moray in his hole. Interesting. I wonder who will be there tomorrow.

Here's a daily turtle shot:

The larger eel was right where I left him yesterday.


Maui, Day 1

We got to Maui on Friday afternoon, after a slightly delayed flight. It was delayed enough that I couldn't get into the water until Saturday. The first stop, as always, was snorkeling at Black Rock. We are staying in Kaanapali and Black Rock is a volcanic spit at the end of the beach. It's easy snorkeling and easier diving. You can sea how many people fill the water. Luckily, most of them are weak swimmers and don't go around the point or get close to the rocks where the more interesting life is located.

There are green sea turtles out there almost every time that I visit. In past years, the turtles have been infected with a virus that causes white tumors all over their body. The virus doesn't kill them outright, but it can impair their ability to see, catch food, or eat, which can ultimately kill them. I am happy to say that all four turtles that I spotted appeared completely health.

Some of the turtles sit on the sandy bottom, in about 30 feet of water.

Others wedge themselves under the rocky ledges to sleep. Most snorkelers never even notice these turtles. Everybody's favorites are the ones that are swimming around, usually coming up to get some air. I think the turtles are used to the snorkers because they seem to pretty much ignore them.

Did you know that unicorns really exist? I found an aquatic variety. This is the unicorn fish.

There were even a couple of eels. I'll have to add specific species IDs later.

Last, I saw the cutest little fish of all, Devyn. She is the daughter of a friend of mine. She's quite a good swimmer and likes to show off for the camera.

All of these pictures were shot with a Canon SD700 pocket camera using the Canon underwater housing and the "underwater" scene setting. Not bad for a simple camera.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

This is what a Southern Californian Snowman looks like. Due to a lack of snow, we have to work with what we've got. In this case, it's tumbleweeds. I spotted this guy on the side of El Camino Real in Rancho Santa Fe. He was about 9 feet tall, including his hat.