October 13, 2016: Site Seeing by Boat – An Excellent way to view the Lava at its newest Ocean entry!
The night before; “I’m setting the alarm clock early enough to leave for Hilo by what time?” was my slow, incredulous question. When the answer was, “2:00 o’clock am,” I took a long pause to consider what that would mean for me 😮
The Answer… “Very little sleep!” 😐 …
Then I thought, “Wait, Andy will be driving. I can sleep on the way!” And I Did! 😀 “To the Flow by Sea”, Andy’s recount of this drive to Hilo and beyond.
“Bright” and EARLY on Saturday morning, January 30, we met the group at Kawaihae harbor (about 7:00am) and consolidated some vehicles then proceeded to the site that we signed up on for the Ocean Count. The site had a GREAT 180 degree view from north to south of the Kohala coastline near Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawai`i!
We all signed in and gathered the papers that we would need for recording the Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) data. This was to include a tally for the # of adults and the # of calves in each pod, and a tally for each time one of several behaviors were exhibited during each half-hour increment from 8:00am to 12:00pm. Followed by one final count-only period from 12:00pm to 12:15pm.
We all got settled in our chairs. We got our paperwork with writing implements, and our binoculars close at hand…and…at 8:00am began the count. Working in pairs, one would call out location, how many in the pod, and behavior observed; and the other would rapidly mark the tallies in the correct box on the paper. There was a lot of activity during the full four hours, and the time flew by! The Humpback were numerous and active on our west coast shoreline!
We seldom had opportunity to just sit back and talk story; but we did get some casual conversation inserted into the very occasional lull. Captivating conversation at that! This made the time pass by even faster. The lowest number of whale spotted from our site in any half-hour block during the count was about 11 adults. The calves were rare early in the count and then reached a count of four in two or three of the mid-count time slots.
Near the end of our count (about 11:00 or 11:30), we all became a bit unsettled to observe two vessels that appeared to be commercial operations, display actions as though they were pursuing a pod of five Humpback Whale that were moving toward the north point of the Island (it looked like they were traveling in the direction of Maui). They presented as though they were pursuing the pod of five thus making the Whales increase their speed to stay out of range of the boats.
The vessels operators could have moored their boats anywhere along the coastline in the general area and seen a much more rewarding show as well as not having made the impression of stressing the large pod as it appeared that they did, and possibly causing any calves to get dangerously left behind!
We also watched as a small speed boat that was too near the shore tear over a lone Humpback that unexpectedly surfaced in its path. The boatman made little effort to observe to see if the whale was injured by the encounter, and we watched it tentatively while we finished our day’s count to observe if it was badly injured or just jostled and disoriented. It appeared to recover and begin to play in the water again. This left us with a feeling of relief as we gathered up our belongings, and cleared the site.
Setting aside the irksome few vessels traversing the Kohala coastline after helping to make a few notes of the boats’ actions, I focused my attentions back on the whale count.
Over all, the Ocean Count was a fantastic experience! There were several conscientious boats in the water as well. Like the kayaking fishermen who got a surprisingly good show! The numerous animals exhibiting an impressive show of behaviors were awesome! Behavior we observed included breaching, diving, fin slapping, spy hopping, numerous blows, and more… (<–this link is to a picture PDF).
It was particularly attention grabbing when a mother was teaching her calf how to do some of these behaviors! The calves appeared to try very hard and would sometimes repeat a behavior several times before changing to another. We even observed a pod of approximately 20 spinner dolphins skimming through our observation area heading in a northerly direction! They looked to be having a great time, completely undaunted by the number of Humpback in the area! 🙂
Even in Alaska, while I did see a larger number of whale once or twice, I do not believe I observed so many behavior patterns in so little time. The process of watching for specific behaviors and counting each occurrence of each behavior made me ‘see’ more of the whales and what they were doing than I had observed while simply watching the whale and madly firing my camera shutter for the pictures.
I WILL make an effort to participate in this event again! And NEXT time, I WILL remember the sun block since I seem to wear my dive skin and/or wet suit so often that I forgot to protect my sun deprived legs when I wore my shorts for the Whale count event :-O Eeeee Youch!!!!! Nope. No pictures of that part of my day. Too embarrassing to feel that much like a tourist again… 😉
Darkerview.com also posted on this volunteer opportunity! — search “Whale Count”>
Another new dive spot that we checked out on November 14, 2009. The Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area. We met several friends from Keck that have formed our usual dive group at the end of the old runway (I am sure that we would welcome more divers to go with us). I scoped out the available facilities and noted fresh water showers as well as restrooms that were very conveniently close to the point of the beach where we chose to make our entry. A wonderfully unexpected surprise.
There are two detailed postings at Darkerview.com: “Diving the Old Kona Airport” and “Diving with the Canon G11” (These links are awaiting repair by Darkerview) including some great photos from the dive. I will try not to reiterate too many of the ones Andy posted. I will certainly post some photos that he has not posted 😉 The entry was a bit slow and cautious with a very rock covered ‘floor’; but there was little to no sand around to get in the gear before we entered the water.
The strong surge made it difficult to put on my fins; but with Andy’s help, I was geared up and we were on our way. Now we traverse the strong waves while surface swimming to the part of the reef where we wanted to start the dive. Once we submerged, it was very nice and reasonably calm. Only a hint of the strong surge that was on the surface. The water temperature was brisk when we first got our feet wet; and when we reached the bottom, it was warm enough for much longer than I had anticipated. This made for a long (66 minutes), very enjoyable dive! The Coral structures were very intriguing as we noted soft corals and corals in shapes like mushrooms, and huts as well as the occasional large piece that resembled dinner vegetables! I will be happy to go diving here again!
Numerous fish of most all of the usual suspects! There were Yellow Tang, Trumpetfish, Hawaiian Dasyllus, Long-nose Butterflyfish, Arc-eye Hawkfish, schools of Goatfish, Lei (Whiteline) Triggerfish, Parrotfish, Moorish Idol [and/or Pennant Butterflyfish], and several that I saw but did not make specific note of such as the Disappearing Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus evanidus).
The photos will help with some of the ID’s and they often surprise me with what I capture along with the intended target. Oddly enough I only saw one Moray Eel (a Whitemouth Moray) that Andy pointed out to me so that I could photograph it. He also brought my attention to the Nudibranch that he located in the sand in a Coral ‘valley’ and I also photographed it.
The Reef Shark were notably absent even though I have been told that they are there. There is certainly enough interest and life at this dive spot to give me reason to come back! Like the large, dark caves that call for exploration; and the sloping drop that echoes “come closer…deeper…” 😉
For those with concerns of what became of our…errrr…Cliff’s unexpected hitchhiker, here’s the rest of the saga:
Background Information: On March 27, Cliff Livermore brought his 24″ newly refinished Dobsonian telescope to the VIS at 9200 feet to use while participating in the 2009 Messier Marathon. (Refer to the postings on A Darker View, Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (the VIS) and my blog right here, Gadget Gypsy, for more in depth details of the whole 2009 Messier Marathon event at the VIS). Cliff is one of several of us who brought our telescopes for this marathon; but his was the only one that got so much attention and not solely because of the unexpected hitchhiker. You might understand why after examining the photo.
During assembly of the 24″ Dob, the Primary mirror is near the beginning of the checklist in the order of assembly; and when that item on the checklist was reached, the mirror box was carried over and placed in a strategic position near the chosen site to make it easier to place on the “rocker box” for the telescope after the truss tubes and secondary cage assembly have been secured in place. The mirror cover was lifted off of the box and several bystanders erupted into laughter.
Cliff had turned to pick up a necessary piece for assembly when he heard the laughter and visibly stiffened a bit. He turned quickly back to his “Primary Gecko” … ummm … I mean his Primary Mirror and joined the chorus of laughter while asking us and the hitchhiker not to move until pictures could be captured!
There was a large Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) crouched on the very shiny mirror surface! After we had taken multiple pictures and had several viewers of the Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) on the Primary mirror, it decided to attempt a run for cover. I managed to coerce the cold, confused Gecko into a plastic jar that I thought I had taken up with me to put leftover pecans in after I had opened the new bag :-O I put the jar in a warm spot in the VIS to keep it from getting too cold (or frozen as the temperatures dipped below 32 degrees F) and then took it back to Waikoloa with us.
Saturday morning, March 28: Before we headed down the mountain, however, we had breakfast at HP and talked story of the events and happenings of the long, cold and fascinating night. During this time, the Gecko was safely (al beit, a bit cold…no…make that VERY cold) in our vehicle awaiting the journey back to warmer habitat. The Gecko got cold enough that it went deep into a state of torpor and appeared to have been taxidermied with all four legs in the air – EEEEW! Although I knew of this state of ‘temporary hybernation’, I had never seen any living being actually in the state of torpor before. It worried me because I hadn’t considered what torpor would actually look like. Breathing slows soooo far that it could easily be mistaken for dead.
Just settling down again on my couch with my morning coffee and queuing up a show to watch while the laundry and the dishes run through (And taking a break from my endless task of organizing my digital photo collection, but that is fodder for another discussion) when the cat’s head pops up from her VERY relaxed position in ‘her’ chair and looks furtively around the room.
Then the windows rattle and the ceiling fan sways. I felt the couch do a little shimmy and watched as my projected image danced a little on the wall. In about 6 to 9 seconds, it was all over except for the Cat getting relaxed again right away 😉
After a couple minutes, the other Cat came in to the living room looking a little on edge as she asked to be picked up and comforted. Only another few minutes after the shimmy and life started to return to an even hum as the Francolins began their shrilling again and the various lawn equipment started back up in the neighborhood.
Just as I headed for my phone, I got the call. I knew who was calling and what question he was going to ask. I answered with, “what Earthquake?” 😉 You see, I had not felt the sizable shimmy that happened a few months ago on Mauna Kea volunteering at the VIS nor the little shimmies that have happened since moving to the Island of Hawai’i.
Thus my husband, Andrew, was calling to find out if there had been any damage and that I am okay as well as whether I even felt this one or not? Yep, the Cats and I all felt this ONE just fine! I was (and still am) making sure that little things about the house are well away from counter or table edges just in case “‘quake-maker” is not finished making this Island ‘dance’ 😀
This particular seismic event was located just off of the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i near Laupahoehoe and is reported to be only a magnitude 4.0 according to the USGS Recent Earthquakes in Hawai’i page.
In the picture to the right, the “USGS Recent Earthquakes in Hawai’i from 9 March 2009 at 9:44:53 AM (HST)“, this event is the big blue square off by its lonesome on the North by Northeast coast out in the “ocean’s blue”. It felt stronger than a mag 4.0 to me; but my internal earthquake magnitude seismograph is apparently not calibrated accurately nor with any particular precision.