Category Archives: May 2019

Waimea and pu’us

The town of Waimea sits in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Kohala Mountain. The town is also known as Kamuela because several towns on other islands have the name ‘Waimea’ too. The postal service needed something more exclusive so Kamuela, Hawaiian for Samuel, was chosen to honor a local citizen.

This view shows the town nestled among trees and backed by pu’us (hills) on the flank of Kohala Mountain. It could be considered a rather bucolic view, which is something of a private joke in this household. A couple of years ago, a run down and shuttered gas station, at the main intersection in town, was becoming something of an eyesore. A letter to the local paper deplored this situation, saying it was a blight on ‘bucolic Waimea.’

Truth is, Waimea looks a good deal more bucolic from a distance. Close up, it’s a busy small town, with a good deal of traffic and a couple of prominent shopping centers. It’s really a quite nice small town, but I’m not sure ‘bucolic’ is how I’d describe it.

Lobster molt

Until I moved to Hawaii, I was not aware that lobsters molt. I only learned this when a local diver presented my wife with a lobster molt he’d recovered.

I’d seen live lobsters here, scuttling around on the sea floor, and others looking like the one in the photo. This one was moving, but only because of the action of the water on it. I used to think these were either dead or resting lobsters. In part this was because adult lobsters, which molt once or twice a year, discard a remarkably complete exoskeleton. It then takes them a few weeks for their new exoskeleton to fully harden.

This is probably a molt from a banded spiny lobster. True lobsters and their relatives have enlarged pincers on their front pair of legs. Spiny lobsters (family Palinuridae) are among the lobster varieties that don’t have those enlarged pincers.

Halema’uma’u Crater

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Danger.’ (See more offerings here.) It seemed a suitable opportunity to post some photos reviewing on Kilauea Volcano’s last eruption, which began in May of last year.

The bottom photo, taken from the Jaggar Museum overlook, shows the scene on the morning of April 25, 2018. Lava in the active vent in Halema’uma’u Crater, at Kilauea’s summit, was just below the crater floor and had been overflowing into the crater in previous days. The overflow is the large dark area to the right of the glowing lava.

By early May, the lava level in the vent had dropped around 1,000 feet. This drop occurred at the same time that lava disappeared from Pu’u O’o vent. Not long afterwards, cracks opened in the ground at Leilani Estates, a housing subdivision in the southeastern part of the island. By the end of May, 24 fissures had opened in the area. The most prolific lava flow emanated from Fissure 8, which flowed to the ocean and created more than 800 acres of new land. However, more than 700 homes were destroyed by this eruption.

Meanwhile, back at the summit, the absence of lava in the vent in Halema’uma’u Crater resulted in a series of collapses of the crater floor. Each collapse triggered earthquakes and shot clouds of ash and toxic gas thousands of feet into the air.

The top photo shows Halema’uma’u Crater as it looks today. The crater is twice the size it was the year before and the floor, which was mostly flat, is now a huge cascading pit. In the upper left of the photo, the Jaggar Museum, where I stood to take the bottom photo, can just be seen. It was heavily damaged by the earthquakes, as were the parking lot and access road. It’s also much closer to the crater edge than it was. (Technically the crater edge is closer to it, since the museum hasn’t moved!)

The museum, along with the rest of the park, closed in May 2018, because of the eruption. While much of the rest of the park reopened in September, Jaggar Museum did not. There’s a good possibility it never will and that its fate will be the same as the portion of Crater Rim Drive in the photo to the right. A significant length of that road, which used to encircle the whole summit caldera, was destroyed, including the section in the photo which slid, intact, into the crater.

Things have settled down since September 2018 and there has been no volcanic activity anywhere on the island since then. But Kilauea remains an active volcano and will undoubtedly erupt again. It’s just that no one knows exactly when or where that will happen.

White-faced ibis

I think this is a white-faced ibis. According to my bird book, Jim Denny’s A Photographic Guide To The Birds Of Hawai’i, it is an occasional visitor and all reports have been of juveniles or birds in non-breeding plumage. It also notes that it is very similar to the glossy ibis, but doesn’t include a listing for that bird in the book. So I’m going to stick with the white-faced ibis identity unless someone has a better idea.

This one was wading in the shallow of the lagoon behind the beach at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. The yellow float was one of several isolating an area where restoration work was taking place. The lagoon is a popular spot for many birds, both endemic and visiting.

For more information about Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, go to https://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm or bigislandhikes.com/kaloko-honokohau-park/.