Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Visit to Where the Lava Meets the Sea

This weekend was our 23rd wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we decided to travel to the other side of the island to do a little lava viewing. We chartered a boat to take us close to the lava where we could see it flowing into the sea.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
Due to "technical difficulties" with the boat, our sunset charter didn't start until after sundown. We also had a bit of rain on the trip. Nevertheless, these small hardships were worth enduring as our boat got really close to the lava entry. The glowing magma, the billowing steam, and the hissing and popping sounds were all very spectacular and astonishing. We've seen lava flowing in the past, but seeing it enter the sea from the vantage point of a 
boat was really special.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
If you visit the Big Island, this is something you really need to put on your "must do" list. We had a great great time and will remember this short trip forever.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

A lava entry into the sea is one of those things that could end at any instant and possibly not recur in a lifetime. Also, there may come a time when authorities shut down trips like this due to the multiple hazards involved. We felt very fortunate to have had this great experience. 

All the way back, we were treated to the sight of marine bioluminescence flying in the prop wash behind our boat. A bonus for having started late. We then went back to our room at Volcano House, a hotel that sits on the rim of the active Kilauea caldera called Halemaumau. Our stay there will be the subject of a future post!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chaetodon ornatissimus

Ornate Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ornatissimus) are among my favorite photo subjects because the are really cooperative, unlike many other tropical fish. Here's a couple shots from a recent dive.

Photos Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One of the Regulars

As big as the ocean is, there are some creatures that stay in a very small area for their entire lives. Moray eels spend most of the daytime cloistered in holes in the reef. Occasionally, you see one out free swimming in the day but they usually come out to hunt at night. When daylight comes, they return to the safety of another hole in the reef.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

This particular undulated moray eel ( Gymnothorax undulatus) is an exception. It lives in a coral head around 80' down and has been there every time I looked for the past several years.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

No doubt it roams about at night searching for prey. But it seems that it always returns to it's specific, special place on the reef when the sun comes up. Truly a creature of habit,

Friday, March 15, 2013


Aloha All,

Not much on my mind today so I thought I'd share some random photos that didn't require a lot of commentary or a separate post. Hope you like them!

All Photos Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Varicose Phyllidia

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

Hawai'i is not blessed with many nudibranchs like some of the more temperate dive spots in the world. What nudis we do have aren't often seen. I photographed this varicose phyllidia (Phyllidia varicosa) this past Sunday in shallow water at Honounau.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
This is commonly referred to as the fried egg nudibranch owing to its unique yellow and white markings.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Manta's Shadow Part VI - the Festo Air Ray

The manta ray is acknowledged as having a very hydrodynamic body which makes it of interest to engineers who are looking to use biological models to improve the efficiency of their products. This is a video that has been out for several years now which shows a bio-mechanical manta ray balloon. The practical ramifications of this technology are beyond me but, aesthetically, this is a really cool video set to groovy New Age music and is relaxing to watch. Anyone who has ever been on the Manta Night Dive will appreciate how well this toy simulates the looping feeding pattern of a real-life manta ray. Enjoy!

Shell Game

Whilst scouring the reef for interesting things, I happened upon a small treasure. Lying in the sand and rubble at the base of a coral head was this perfect spiked helmet shell ( Casmaria erinaceus kalosmodix).

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
The shell was clean and perfectly intact - a rarity on the Big Island where a lot of the predators just crush shells and eat the contents. When one does find an intact shell, it is often inhabited by it's mollusk builder or a hermit crab. The inhabitant of this shell was probably eaten just hours before by a cone or Triton's trumpet snail.

Just to be clear with you, the shell is now in my collection. If I come across something this beautiful during a dive and I can have it without taking a life, then I consider it a gift from The Sea and I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Undersea Memorial

In a sand patch in the coral reef at Honaunau Bay lies this memorial to a free-diver and spear-fisher who went out diving one day and never returned.
Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
I had seen him several times down at the bay but didn't really know him. He seemed like a nice guy and obviously had friends and family who love him and miss him very much as evidenced by this tribute. I hope they find comfort in knowing that he died doing something he enjoyed greatly.

We who play in the sea - whether free or SCUBA diving, boating, surfing, or even fishing from the shore - accept a certain amount of risk. Usually we live to tell our stories but there are no guarantees. Experience and skill can never prepare us for the infinite possibilities in the sea, good or bad.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Echinoderm Love

So there I was swimming along and minding my own business when I noticed what appeared to be a sea urchin, perched high on a coral head, that appeared to be smoking. Billows of white smoke rose from among its many spines. But, alas, the only fire was in the little creature's libido as this was the awesome act of echinoderm lovemaking!

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

The lusty devil was a collector urchin (Tripneustes gratilla)  and the "smoke " was a milky fluid containing either eggs or sperm that it was broadcasting into the water in hopes that it would meet up with the genetic material of another collector urchin and produce a new crop of prickly little invertebrates!

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
The yellowish thing atop the urchin is a piece of marine detritus that it "collected" during its travels. Anyway, interesting to note that, unlike humans, sea urchins smoke during sex and not after! Ha!