Category Archives: March 2017

A man harvests opihi off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Castaway?

A man harvests opihi off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.This lonesome individual, scrambling over a tiny islet, searching for food, appears to be the quintessential castaway. But he’s really collecting opihi and the islet is about a hundred-foot swim to the much larger Big Island.

On a different day with windier conditions, the swim wouldn’t be necessary since the surf could pick a person up and slam them against the cliff with no effort required on their part.

Square-spot goatfish swim in the waters off the Big Isalnd.

Square-spot goatfish

Square-spot goatfish swim in the waters off the Big Isalnd.
Square-spot goatfish are quite common and most easily distinguished by the square spot in the yellow stripe along their sides. However, the intensity of the square spot changes, darker during feeding, and fading (as with the fish in the photo) or disappearing altogether while resting or schooling. When the spot disappears, square-spot goatfish are hard to distinguish from yellowfin goatfish.

In my attempts to identify what I see in the water, I use John P. Hoover’s book The Ultimate Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes, Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Whales, and Seals. His website is hawaiisfishes.com.

A green anole puffs out its dewlap and raises the ridge on its neck in a display or aggression.

Green anole with raised ridge

A green anole puffs out its dewlap and raises the ridge on its neck in a display or aggression.
I saw this anole on the lanai one day and thought at first it was something new to me. It was a very deep brown with pronounced markings and it had a raised ridge on the back of its neck that I’d never seen before. It was already pretty agitated, but my taking photos riled it even more, causing it to strut around and puff out its dewlap.

After watching it for a while, I thought it had a lot in common with the green anoles I see around here, and sure enough, its color started to fade and then shift to green.

I suspect what was happening is that it was trying to stake out a new territory and was moving in with the most impressive display it could muster. I’ve found out since that the raised ridge is one such display technique that green anoles have. I didn’t see it again. Probably it decided that it didn’t need a territory already crawling with paparazzi.

A jumping spider catches a parasitic wasp.

A jumping spider snags a meal

A jumping spider catches a parasitic wasp.
I was watching some butterflies recently when my eye was caught by something tiny (we’re talking a quarter-inch long here) bouncing across the dirt in front of me. I peered down and snapped a couple of photos before it disappeared. I’d seen enough to recognize it as a spider and the photos, while not great, were good enough to enable me to identify it as a striped lynx spider, a kind of jumping spider.

Not long after that, I was again watching butterflies and other bugs inhabiting a mock orange hedge, when I saw this little creature. Again, no more than a quarter inch long, it’s movement caught my eye against the glossy green of the mock orange leaves. A different kind of jumping spider, it hung around, enabling me to get this photo, because it had latched on to what I think is a parasitic wasp. Jumping spider don’t make webs, they pounce on their prey.

Jumping spiders are in the family Salticidae, but there are numerous species within the family and I haven’t yet been able to identify which this is. A characteristic of these jumping spiders is the pair of large eyes in front. This gives them very good eyesight, useful in identifying prey.

Another thing I’ve found out is that they’re everywhere around here. Now that I’m aware of them, and looking out for them, I see them often where I had never noticed them before. Mine eyes have been opened to the glories of the jumping spider – or something like that.