Category Archives: In The Water

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park

Punaluu black sand beach in Hawaii

Punalu’u is one of the more popular places to visit on the Big Island. For one thing, it’s a black sand beach that’s easily accessible. It’s also a great place to see Green Turtles and sometimes Hawksbill Turtles. There’s picnic tables and restrooms, you can camp there, and it’s a beautiful stretch of coastline to wander along.

On my most recent visit, I was happy to see that the area where the turtles tend to rest has been more obviously identified with a rock wall and signs. This is part of the ongoing efforts to deter the ‘Let’s get a picture of little Billy riding the turtle’ crowd. Oh yes, they exist and, sadly, they’re nowhere near as endangered as the turtles. There is one turtle in this photo, but it looks like a rock.

Punaluu black sand beach with turtle resting area

Here’s a closer look.

Punaluu black sand beach with turtle resting

And a close up (with a zoom lens), getting some much needed rest.

Punaluu black sand beach with turtle resting

I really like Punalu’u, especially early in the day as this was. Later on, it can get very crowded.

Jeweled Anemone Crab

A Jeweled Anemone Crab in the waters off Hawaii
A Jeweled Anemone Crab in the waters off Hawaii

I spotted this Jeweled Anemone Crab scuttling over some very uneven rock and coral, but it was still able to move at a pretty good pace. The Jeweled Anemone Crab is a hermit crab, meaning it lives in a snail shell, either one it found unoccupied, or one from which is evicted the current tenant.

This one looks to have found a colorful shell, but looks are deceiving. The shell isn’t visible at all, because it’s covered by at least four large anemones! These are Calliactis polypus anemones. They give the crab some protection because, if disturbed, they shoot out stinging threads. In return, they get transportation and possibly scraps of food from the crab.


A siphonophore in the waters off Hawaii

I was snorkeling recently when I saw this strange tubular stringy thing. That’s not a scientific term. My first thought was that it was a Chained Salp, a tunicate that is a colony of individual Salps. But this one seemed a bit different. There was the main tube, but also thinner strings hanging off it.

I started taking photos, which was a bit of a trick in the lumpy swell. I wasn’t worried about getting too close since Chained Salps are harmless. I wasn’t worried until I got too close and realized I’d been stung on the hand by some those tendrils! That was enough for me and I headed to shore.

Back at the house, I couldn’t identify it in my book so I emailed a fellow snorkeler who is well-versed in these sort of things. She had encountered these before and identified it as a Siphonophore (Thanks, Wendy.). Like the Chained Salp, this is a colony of individuals, but unlike the harmless salps, siphonophores have stinging tentacles which they use to catch prey.

Possibly the best known Siphonophore is the Portugese Man-Of-War, one of which had stung a fellow snorkeler just a few days earlier. His wounds were very painful, but I got off easily, with just red welts and a mild burning sensation for a couple of hours.

A siphonophore in the waters off Hawaii

Cauliflower coral

Fourspot butterflyfish and a head of cauliflower coral
Fourspot butterflyfish and a head of cauliflower coral

A pair of Fourspot Butterflyfishes disturbed a pair of Arc-eye Hawkfishes perched in a head of Cauliflower Coral, as they often do. The coral head is doing OK, but areas of it have died off, probably during one of the coral bleaching events that have happened in the past few years, where the water gets too warm.

I can get chilly fairly easily when I go swimming, but for me, it’s more distressing when the water feels oddly warm because I know this is bad news for the corals.

Lizardfish lunch

A lizardfish with a white-spotted toby in its mouth

This Reef Lizardfish snagged itself a prospective lunch. The trouble is, its lunch is a Whitespotted Toby and, like all pufferfish, one mode of defense is to inflate itself so it can’t be swallowed. This toby has done just that and the lizardfish will have a hard job getting that down.

If it is successful, it might still be in trouble since another of the toby’s defenses is a skin toxin which renders it, at best unpalatable, and at worst, deadly!

A green turtle pops up for air

A green turtle swims n the waters off Hawaii

On a recent snorkel, I saw this headless creature a little ways off. I took me a few moments to realize that this was a green turtle getting a breath of air. When it dipped back below the surface, it kept coming towards me. I thought it might come really close, but it decided that it didn’t like what it saw and glided down to deeper water.

A green turtle swims n the waters off Hawaii

Well red

A red windsock at Upolu in Hawaii
The windsock at Upolu Airport with Maui in the background.

This month’s Sunday Stills Color Challenge is ‘Red.’ See more responses here. A variety of subjects for this one!