Category Archives: March 2019

Coconut orchid

A coconut orchid at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Coconut orchids (Maxillaria tenuifolia) are originally from Central America. They’re noteworthy for their flowers’ blood red color and a coconut scent. I admit, I didn’t detect much scent, but my sense of smell is not exactly acute. The flowers bloom in spring for a week or more.

I saw this orchid at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden during a visit with Terri, from Second Wind Leisure Perspectives, who was visiting the Big Island for a week. Terri hosts the Sunday Stills challenge and her theme this week, coincidentally, is ‘Tropical.’ See more responses here.

We had a good stroll around the garden taking the usual slew of photos. Though I’m a regular visitor to the garden I always see new things, and this coconut orchid was one. For more information about Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, go to

Also posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge on the theme of ‘Feelings of Spring.’ See more responses here.

Waimea pu’u

I think this is Pu’u Kaliali, southeast of Waimea, catching a patch of late afternoon sun on an otherwise cloudy day. Waimea is the home to Parker Ranch, the second largest ranch in the U.S.A – there’s a bigger one in Texas of course. The rolling pasture land in the area is home to a large contingent of cattle.

Three black goats

Three black goats in scrub land near Waimea, Hawaii.

I was driving down Old Saddle Road when I passed this tableau. I thought they’d take off, but I pulled over, walked back up the road, and saw the three of them still there. I took a few photos before the little one wandered off, followed by the other two. It was only as I walked back to the car that I realized there was a whole herd of goats mostly hidden in the long grasses.

NOAA ship Oscar Elton Sette

The Oscar Elton Sette is a ship operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This former U.S. Navy ship was transferred to NOAA in 1992 and is used as a research vessel. It’s equipped with multiple options for the collection of specimens as well as being set up to conduct operations involving up to four divers.

The ship is named after Oscar Elton Sette, who was the first director of the Honolulu Laboratory of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In the photo, the ship was off the west coast of the Big Island, engaged in a survey of bottom fish.

For more information about the vessel Oscar Elton Sette, go to

Commerson’s frogfish

This little lemon-yellow beauty is a juvenile Commerson’s frogfish. Frogfish are rarely seen by snorkelers because they blend in so beautifully. Typically they look like bits of the reef but some, such as this one, mimic sponges and so are more easily seen.

Frogfish are anglers. They sit motionless on the bottom. When potential prey approaches, they flick their first dorsal fin forward. This is tipped with a fleshy lure that hangs over its mouth. If the prey takes the bait, the frogfish strikes. It can expand its mouth to swallow quite large fish and it strikes with such speed that other fish in the vicinity are generally unaware what’s happened, thus allowing the frogfish to remain in place and continue fishing.

In this photo, the frogfish’s eyes and mouth are visible, as are its pectoral fins that are adapted to help it hang on to the reef and to move about.

This frogfish was spotted by my wife and we watched it for a while before we were interrupted by three whales breaching. They were half-a-mile or more away, but this was the first time I’d seen whale activity from the water and it was pretty impressive, if almost impossible to photograph.

When the whales settled down, I dipped my head below the water to try and locate the frogfish again and the first thing I saw was a white-tipped reef shark cruising by. I suspect it had been attracted by my feeble attempts to dive and photograph the frogfish, probably thinking there was some easy prey to be had. It quickly disappeared again, but it made for a memorable few minutes.

Bees on haole koa

Haole koa is the local term for Leucaena leucocephala. It means ‘foreign acacia koa.’ Acacia koa is a native hardwood tree that has been used in building everything from guitars to canoes.

Haole koa got its name because it looks similar to young acacia koa trees. It also looks similar to kiawe, but lacks the vicious thorns of that tree.

This is the time of year that haole koa trees flower and their white flower heads look like puff balls. These are popular with the bees, which were swarming all over a small group of haole koa trees just a few days ago.

Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Spring has Sprung.’ See more responses here.