🙂 Posted here for the first time!…
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…” 😉
Andy (Darkerview.com) and I attended the 17th Annual Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Open House that was held on Saturday, October 17th 2009! A PDF of the Open House News Release from the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service showed how to get there and what to see when you get there.
It is my understanding that the NWR will continue to hold one of these every year. I am anticipating attending the open house again next year! I still need to get to the greenhouse to explore the seedlings that they are propagating to bring back endemic species like the Koa tree (Acacia koa) while they eradicate the invasive plants.
Except for the dense fog, heavy drizzle and generous amounts of green foliage, the bumping bouncing drive to the event was reminiscent of many of the roads that we explored in Arizona with the same 4-wheel drive. For the first few hours of our visit to the reserve, the sky was overcast and drizzly; and the sun was barely able to light the landscape through the fog.
When we finished our hike on the birding trail and turned around at the quarry, it was as though we had stepped through a vortex or into an alternate dimension as we began our hike back to our vehicle to eat our lunch and then head for home 🙂
The road started as a narrow, graveled and tolerably maintained course; and then took on a different character as it changed to steep, well rutted stretches of trail among the curves and hills. The sections that were most susceptible to erosion were paved to prevent complete washout and inaccessibility to the refuge and the nearby ranches.
We took our time on the drive in to take in the beauty of it all, despite the heavily invasive, and thick growth of that pretty yellow flower on that bushy evergreen plant that I now know as Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus). It was EVERYWHERE!
An invasive in Hawai’i. Gorse is so dense that it chokes out nearly every other plant in its wake. While Gorse may have its place in the RIGHT place, its attempt at world take over is better left out of Hawai’i.
The Gorse that was so prolific on both sides of the nearly 16 miles of Mana road, basically disappeared when we turned in the gate to Pua ‘Akala Barn and event parking. Eradication of the Gorse and reestablishing Koa trees is part of the mission of Hakalau Forest NWR as well as preserving endangered native species (See Management for detailed information).
While on the refuge grounds, I noticed only one pitiful instance of Gorse that was showing signs of giving in to the eradication effort. And numerous young Koa trees getting their roots established!
When we reached the main demonstration area, we started with the barn area where there were storyboards, pamphlets, and loads of information about the reserve. Then we moved on to the historic Koa wood Pua ‘Akala Cabin (built in 1883 and used up until about 1980), and the equipment shed that was very near the cabin.
It was wet and overcast during our exploration of the buildings (the cabin with its temperature controlled fermentation room and the barn with a unique water catchment system). This provided a diffuse lighting and prevented harsh shadows; although, it was quite the challenge to get an acceptable photo before the lens was covered with water droplets.
As Andy mentions in his ‘back-to-work’ entry at A Darkerview.com: “Long vacations seem to be common here in Hawai’i, particularly when flying to the mainland. When purchasing tickets, families tend to make the best of the expense and do everything in one trip. The result is that many vacations are measured in weeks, not days.” I am very glad we optimized our travel like we did and also arranged a visit ‘home’ then to Alaska! 🙂
The call came while still away off-Island, “Are you still interested in working here at the School? Please call me quickly to let me know. I have vacancies to fill and we start SOON!” My reply was made as soon as I was within Cell coverage again, “YES, I am interested!” I was asked to sign in the Monday following my return, August 3, 2009 (the first day of School). How exciting! I was so there!
Having the summer off meant that the ordeal of Email and paper pile-up causing, “No real work accomplished, just the task of catchup and restarting everything” that Andy dealt with so well was not an issue that I had to bear upon my return to work at the school. I was greeted by many “genuine expressions of welcome” and shouts of recognition by students as well as teachers.
It felt good to be back and even better to be remembered with such enthusiasm! The Bear Cub Hugs are a real treat, too!
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