Sunday, November 11, 2012

Something Smells Fishy

Red Pencil Urchin
It's been over twenty years since I've had the chance to go snorkeling, so that was second on my list (after seeing an active volcano first hand) for our trip to Hawaii.  Thanks to our friends, Andrew and Deb Cooper (residents of the Big Island), we all had free use of snorkel and beach equipment for the week!  Not only did they loan us masks, snorkels, fins, aqua shoes, chairs, mats, a beach blanket, and a cooler(!); they let us borrow a Nikon digital camera with underwater housing!  Generous beyond belief!  I've used a disposable underwater camera before (20+ years ago), but technology has improved greatly since then.  At the end of this post go to the link for our niece's underwater shots - taken with a disposable underwater camera, on this trip, as well!

Test shot in the pool
It was a real leap of faith, taking the camera underwater the first time - at least for me.  I couldn't stand the thought of something horrible happening to it, so 'tested it out' in our hotel pool first before actually taking the plunge in the ocean.  Fortunately, some kid was cooperative enough to jump in about the time I was taking a "test shot".  Once I felt confident we weren't going to be buying a new camera for the Cooper's, I was ready for hitting the ocean!

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
Snorkeling is about the most fun thing a non-diver can do in the ocean!  If you can kick your feet and float, you can snorkel.  Even non-swimmers can get in on the fun by wearing a life vest.  It's relaxing and opens up a whole new world, the underwater world!  I had been reading about good snorkeling sites, on line, for months in advance of our trip.  I found a site, Hawaii Snorkeling Guide that mentioned three great sites on the Big Island.  The first we chose was at a city park near Kona, Kahaluu Beach Park.  It was a great 'cove', protected from big waves, lots of coral and fish!  The walking from our shady spot to the water was a little rough on the feet, but I have really sensitive feet.  Every beach we went to we encountered Green Sea Turtles, and Kahaluu was no exception!  This guy was taking a break on the lava at the shore - before we even entered the water!  His buddy was still swimming with us in the cove for a while, also.  It's definitely 'odd' to come face to face with a sea turtle - we did our best to stay clear, though most everyone we spoke to said they are pretty harmless.  No need to provoke the locals though!  The second place we snorkeled was Mauna Kea Beach - Kaunaoa Bay.  Mauna Kea Beach is listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, and is perfect for beginners.  It is a huge cove of silky soft sand (great on the feet), with massive areas of coral surrounding the edges.  The coral there had areas of canyons that were great to swim through!  The coral is where the action is, so it was great to have so many areas to see.  As the tide came in there were areas of the coral that only had a few inches of water covering it - so it was sometimes hard to swim over and avoid touching!  Knowing that there are sea urchins and anemone's helps to remind one to "take only pictures, leave only bubbles".
Dean is already talking about a return trip in the Spring, to do some more 'serious' astronomy.  I'm already envisioning us taking more underwater pictures - and looking at underwater cameras on line (there are really very affordable ones out there)!  There are Queen Angels just waiting to have their picture taken so they can be on our blog, and we never made it to the third beach recommended by the Hawaii Snorkeling Guide!
Be sure to go to our niece's blog: Shannon's Song.  She has some AMAZING pictures from our snorkel trips!

There's a lot of pictures here, and I hope I have the fish identified correctly!

Yellow Tang, and some of the amazing coral!

Fourspot Butterflyfish
A little Goby of some sort, hiding in the coral
Moorish Idol
Closer look at the Moorish Idol
Orange Spine Unicornfish, Convict Tang and a Yellow Tang

A little Pufferfish!
One of my favorites, Raccoon Butterflyfish

Reef Triggerfish.  These guys are really fast!
A Stoplight Parrotfish.  They give the place some color and can be up to 2 feet long!
Teardrop Butterflyfish
Ornate Butterflyfish
A Threadfin Butterflyfish, and Convict Tang
Yellowfin Surgeonfish

Yellowfin Wrasse

Yellow Tang - more than you can count!

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