Curious spotted eagle ray

I have a tendency, when out snorkeling, to revisit places where I’ve seen something interesting. So if I’ve seen a frogfish, a shark, or gargantuan blenny in a particular place, I go back there to see if it’s still there. Bear in mind that these are creatures that extremely mobile and move around a good deal.

And yet, there’s method in this madness. Many fish are territorial and so do occupy a very limited area which they defend with great vigor. Others might be more transient, but tend to feed in certain areas.

Spotted eagle rays fall into this latter category. They can cover large distances, but tend to feed on sandy bottoms, shoveling the sand with their bills to uncover the marine invertebrates that they feed on.

This eagle ray was dong just that, cruising low over the sand, pausing occasionally dig for potential prey. But after a long spell of this activity, it rose in the water, cruised around, and made a close pass, clearly checking me out. It did this a couple of times before heading back down and in toward the shore in search of food.

I don’t think there was any reason for this behavior other than a curiosity to see what this ungainly creature was that was following it. And it’s not alone in this behavior. Manta rays also do this along with dolphins, sharks, and a fair number of smaller fish. They’re curious about us; we’re curious about them. This is what makes getting in the water fun.


Cane toad

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Zen.’ (See more offerings here.) This is a cane toad and, despite the exceedingly grumpy look, it found a moment of zen in the sanctuary of this sprinkler.

Cane toads were introduced to Hawaii to control pests, such as the cane beetle, in sugar cane fields. As with many such introductions, the results were mixed. The toads do eat an assortment of undesirable insects, but also breed prolifically so that they can become pests themselves.

They are the world’s largest toad and have poison glands that can release a toxic substance onto their skin, so they should be handled with care or not at all.

Mauna Kea telescopes at sunset

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Remote.’ (See more responses here.)

I’m going for this photo for three reasons. First, Hawaii itself is remote at more than 2,200 miles from the nearest major landmass. The closest U.S. state is actually Alaska, though California is the closest state to the Big Island.

Secondly, Mauna Kea is one of the more remote spots on the island, particularly these days. Protests over building a new telescope on Mauna Kea have resulted in the road up the volcano being closed for some weeks now with no end to the dispute in sight. So if a person wants to go to the top, a long and arduous hike is the only way.

Thirdly, the telescopes on the summit are there to explore the farthest reaches of the universe, and you can’t get more remote than that.

Cow on the road

Upolu is home the last dairy on the Big Island. It has a large herd of cows, mostly black and white holsteins, but with a few other kinds mixed in. However, this cow is a little different. It’s the only one I’ve seen with a collar or horns.

I get the impression this is somewhat of the dairy’s pet, which is allowed to wander. And lately, it’s been wandering on the road. When I drive by it looks up and then continues munching grass, which grows well by the road.

Tree fungi

I’m not sure what these tree fungi are, but I liked the stair step effect in the photo to the left.

Nene pecking order

When a quartet of nene showed up at work, a water bowl was put out for them. One of the nene, the leader of the group, stepped up to drink. One of the other birds looked on with interest, but was hesitant to join in (top photo).

The reason for that hesitancy became clear moments later when the first bird reached across and pecked the the other bird’s side. It didn’t appear to hurt, but a message was clearly being given. Soon after, the first bird finished drinking and then walked through the water bowl. It wasn’t like there was nowhere for it to go, but again, a message was being sent.

After the first bird moved on, the other bird took its opportunity to take a drink, muddy footprints and all.

Hawaiian garden spiders face off

Hawaiian garden spiders face offHawaiian garden spidersThis pair of Hawaiian garden spiders spent a long time facing off from different sides of the female spider’s web. The male is the smaller, drab spider, while the larger female has splashes of yellow, orange bands on her legs, and a bejeweled back, which can be seen here. The female spiders are much bigger than the males, though this female is not actually a particularly large one. Full-sized females dwarf their male counterparts.

I don’t know how this encounter turned out, but the previous day I did see another male on this web and it did not turn out well for him. I didn’t get good photos, but he appeared to be thoroughly enveloped in her ‘loving’ embrace.

When male garden spiders approach a female, they pluck the females web in a certain way to alert her to their presence. Typically, successful male garden spiders mate with a female and then die immediately afterwards. Sometimes the female will eat their male suitors. I’ve read than canny males will try to mate while the female is undergoing her final molt because during this process she will be immobile!

Dendrobium Jacquelyn Thomas orchid

Dendrobium Jacquelyn Thomas is a hybrid orchid. I’ve seen descriptions that date it to the 1970s and others that go back to 1949. Either way, it is a popular orchid with long lasting flowers.

This one was at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. For more information about Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, go to