Category Archives: May 2016

THe site of the Mars simulation mission site on the Big Island of Hawaii

Mars simulation mission site

THe site of the Mars simulation mission site on the Big Island of HawaiiThe road to the Mauna Loa Observatory

This little dome is where simulated Mars missions take place. Currently there’s a crew of six living in the dome on a 365-day mission, the longest such experiment to date. The previous crew lived in the dome for eight months.

The dome, at around 8,000 foot on the north side of Mauna Loa, is situated a little way off the Mauna Loa Observatory road. In the photo to the right it can be seen about ¾ of the way up in the center.

For an interesting article on the Mars simulation mission and its context in history see newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/20/moving-to-mars. For information about the current, and former, missions, see hi-seas.org.

An ash grey lady beetle in the Big Island of Hawaii.

Ash grey lady beetle

An ash grey lady beetle in the Big Island of Hawaii.

I’ve always thought of lady beetles as little red creatures with black dots on their backs. So I was enlightened to see this one, also known as the ashy grey lady beetle (Olla v-nigrum). Apparently, this species can also have a completely different coloring. I learn something every day!

For more information about ash grey lady beetles, go to bugguide.net/node/view/8874.

Helmet urchins on the North Kohala coast

Helmet urchins

Helmet urchins on the North Kohala coastHelmet urchins on the North Kohala coast
Helmet urchins feed on algae at the water’s edge where they move about on little tube legs. I can’t claim to have witnessed any such activity, but for creatures that apparently just sit there, I find them quite cheerful and entertaining. Perhaps I should get out more.

To identify this, I used John P. Hoover’s book Hawai‘i’s Sea Creatures: A Guide to Hawai‘i’s Marine Invertebrates. His website is hawaiisfishes.com.

A mango tree bearing fruit

Mangoes

A mango tree in bloom A mango tree bearing fruit
In February this mango tree was in full bloom (left). Those blooms have become the bevy of fruit at right. When the wind blows the thud of falling mangoes is a constant sound. I tend to duck my head into my shoulders walking under the tree.

It’s a twice a day routine to pick up the fallen fruit, or the wild pigs will make short work of them.

A rock on the North Kohala coast, which looks like a guard dog

Guard dog rock

A rock on the North Kohala coast, which looks like a guard dog
I was taking one of my regular walks along the coast when, for some reason, I noticed this rock that I must have walked past a hundred times or more. This time, something about the light and shadows suggested the profile of a sitting dog and I immediately dubbed it guard dog rock. Now when I pass it, that’s all I can think of, as if it has always held that significance for me.