Category Archives: August 2018

Mauna Loa Observatory

Mauna Loa Observatory

Mauna Loa Observatory access roadThe top of Mauna Kea is dotted with telescopes, but Mauna Loa’s summit is bare save for some small pieces of equipment monitoring the volcano’s seismic activity and small changes in inflation and deflation.

However, just above the 11,000 foot level on Mauna Loa’s northern slope is the Mauna Loa Observatory. The observatory is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Earth System Research Laboratory – Global Monitoring Division.

Since 1958, the observatory has been monitoring changes in the atmosphere and in particular, levels of carbon dioxide, one of the leading contributors to global warming. It’s the world’s oldest continuous carbon dioxide monitoring station, which is ironic given that it’s situated in one of the few countries on Earth not subject to global warming (and if you’re wondering how that works, all you have to do is go to the beach, stick your head in the sand and, voila, no more global warming.).

In the top photo, the two domes on the left house solar sensors operated by the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory which shares the site. The bottom photo shows the observatory under a near full moon. And on the right is a view back down the road to the observatory, an up and down, winding one-lane road, which is one of my favorite drives on the island.

For more information on the Mauna Loa Observatory, go to

Mauna Loa Observatory and moon

Cabbage butterflies not mating

Cabbage Butterfly female and male

Cabbage Butterfly femaleWhen I first saw these two cabbage butterflies I thought they were mating or about to mate. But I’ve since read that this posture, adopted by the female (identifiable by the two dark spots on each wing), is a signal that she’s already mated and is no longer available. In typical fashion, the male butterfly took a while to get the message before he gave up and left.

Whitemouth moray eel

Whitemouth Moray Eel

A smaller whitemouth moray eel displays the feature that gives them the name. An eel will typically open and close its mouth in this way, but it’s not an act of aggression. It’s how they breathe, the motion pumping water over the gills.

This pose, with much or most of the eel hidden in a crevasse or coral head, is also typical. It’s how I make most of my sightings. But every so often I’ll see an eel in open water or passing from one hiding spot to the next. It’s usually a fleeting sight as eels can zip along and disappear into the tiniest of cracks.



SurferIn response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Water’ (more responses here) I thought I’d post something very Hawaiian. Most widely-seen surfing images feature a surfer cruising through a barrel of blue water or sliding down the face of a terrifyingly steep wave. But many people enjoy getting out on the water and having fun on whatever waves are available.

The Big Island isn’t known for its surfing spots in the same way as Maui and Oahu, but there are still plenty of surfing enthusiasts. Good, rideable surf often leads to an increase in people calling in sick to work.

These photos were taken at Honolii Beach Park north of Hilo, a popular surfing spot on the east side of the island and a good spot for kids to get to grips with the sport.

Goats hazard

Goats on the fairway

Here’s a view of part of the golf course at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on the Kohala coast. Besides the usual trees and bunkers to challenge golfers, there’s a generous sprinkling of goats. I liked the pastoral feel of this photo, but if I were a golfer and my ball came to rest within a club’s length of some of these goats, I’d be inclined to drop a new ball a safe distance away.

Signs: Boiling Pots

Signs-Boiling Pots dangers

Boiling Pots is part of Wailuku River State Park, in Hilo, along with Rainbow Falls. It features a series of small falls and pools. So why the name? When the river runs fast, those pools roil and bubble as if boiling.

The park overlooks these pools and access to the pools is forbidden, hence these signs. However, people go down there all the time and a few die every year. When people do get swept away, rescue divers usually spend 24 to 48 hours searching the river, at some considerable risk to themselves. Sometimes the body turns up several weeks later, swept into some unlikely spot. Sometimes it’s never found.