Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Three-Named Fish

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

This past Saturday I saw this odd-shaped fish at a cleaning station at Honaunau Bay. It has at least three common names that I know of: scrawled filefish, scribbled filefish, and broomtail filefish. The binomial nomenclature for this fish is Aleuterus scriptus. It is a bizarre looking creature that is incredibly flattened, covered with electric blue dots and squiggles and has a tail that accounts for a third or more of its total length. I see these fish more frequently in the winter months here in Hawai'i. They occur singly, in pairs and sometimes in loose groups.  Happy Diving!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Things in Small Packages

This past Saturday there was a n outrigger canoe race launching from my favorite dive spot, Honaunau Bay. This was the first weekend in quite a while where the surf was fairly calm and I felt I needed to get in the water. I decided to go to Keauhou Bay, hoping to photograph the big manta rays that frequent the area. Alas, that was not to be, the mantas apparently being elsewhere engaged. On the return leg of my second dive I glimpsed a bright yellow blob on a piece of coral rubble. The blob turned out to be a tiny, juvenile Commerson's frogfish (Antennarius commerson).

All Photos Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
While it doesn't look camouflaged, this little fish is closely mimicking a local sponge species. Eventually, this inch-long individual will grow to about a foot in length and resemble an algae, sponge and coral-encrusted rock on the sea floor.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Death on the Beach!

Not all the fascinating stuff at the beach is underwater. Last weekend, during my surface interval, I got to watch a black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) stalking in the surf for prey. Before too long, it lunged its bill into the water and came up with a lavender tang (Acanthurus nigrofuscus).

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
It spent the following few minutes orienting the fish so it would go head first down its throat (otherwise the spines would catch) and then the hapless tang made it's last swim down the bird's alimentary canal.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
Not a happy ending for our finny friend but birds have to eat, too!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Turtle Bedtime

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
This green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is entering an underwater cave for a nap. When sleeping or resting, a green sea turtle can stay submerged for several hours on a single breath. However, when active or stressed, time submerged is greatly reduced. Greens can reach up to five feet in length and weigh up to 700 pounds. So now you know!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beautiful Shell

I found this beautiful Triton's Trumpet shell (Charonia tritonis) while diving this Saturday at Honaunau. It was close to a foot long and still occupied by its builder. The Triton's Trumpet is a snail just like the ones you would find in your garden except it is specially adapted for its marine habitat.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
The top of the shell has a coating of marine growth and sand as such things tend to settle on slow moving surfaces.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
The underside is generally clean and glossy, particularly the aperature which is the "hole" the creature protrudes out of. The yellow and tan matter is the creature's muscular foot. The brownish oval is the operculum, a toenail-like structure that seals the aperature securely shut when the snail retracts into its shell. the operculum is the final wall that, along with the shell, completely protects the snail's soft body from would-be predators.

Life is full of beautiful things. Take time to enjoy them!

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Won! I Won! I Won!

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

The Photo above won the SeaLife Camera Photo of the Month contest. My prize is a SeaLife Mini II camera. I'm pretty happy because I don't usually win contests. Just thought I'd share. Have a nice day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Neat Devil Scorpionfish

There will be no diving for me this weekend as a wicked NW swell is kicking up monster surf making conditions sub-par. But, I have some kinda neat pics from last weekend of a devil scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis diabolus) that was hiding under a ledge.

Photos Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
Scorpionfish are masters of camouflage and are often called rockfish or stonefish based on their inanimate appearance. They remain so sedentary that algae grows all over them. They survive by employing their lightning-fast jaws which vacuum in any small fish who wanders too near.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
While photographing this wonderful creature, a stout moray eel (Gymnothorax eurostus) slithered along over and behind the scorpionfish oblivious to the fact that it was a very much alive predator.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
I am sorry the last photo is so blurry. I was set up for a macro shot before the eel came along and had to back up to take the photo and didn't have time to adjust the settings. Still, it shows hoe effective the camouflage of the scorpionfish is. Or perhaps how brave/foolish stout moray eels are!