Category Archives: Fish

Eye to eye with a curious manta ray

A coastal manta ray approaches
A manta ray approaches.
Close up of a coastal manta ray approaching
A close up view.
A coastal manta ray showing spots and gill slits
The spots on the underside are unique to each manta ray. This shot also gives a good view of the gill slits and cephalic flaps.

Yesterday, my wife and I went snorkeling at our usual spot. The visibility was pretty good so, on our way back, we decided to cross the bay and see how it was on the other side. The visibility got worse, not awful, but with more particles in the water.

Suddenly, I saw something large off to my left. I pointed to it and turned to my wife to see her pointing in the same direction. We’d seen this coastal manta ray at the same time. The ray was crossing in front of us and I snapped a couple of photos knowing they wouldn’t be good, but to at least have a record of the encounter.

A coastal manta ray close up
A close up of the manta ray’s head.
A coastal manta ray turning
The manta ray makes a turn.

The ray looked set to disappear into the murk, but then it turned and came back towards us. It passed in front of us again, turned again. Back and forth the ray went. On different occasions, it went by so close in front of each of us that we could have reached out and touched it. It was clearly as curious about us as we were entranced by it. Finally, it made one last pass and seemed to wave at us as it receded into the distance.

A snorkeler comes face to face with a coastal manta ray
Mutual curiosity as manta ray meets snorkeler.
A coastal manta ray approaches
The water was quite murky, so more distant photos show suspended particles.
A coastal manta ray diving down
The manta makes a dive and turn.

This was a smaller ray with maybe a 6- to 8-foot wing span and most of this time it was swimming near the surface, so we got great views of it. Manta rays are plankton feeders and have no poisonous spines so they’re amongst the least dangerous creatures in the ocean. I hadn’t seen one since last August so this made the occasion even more special for me.

After it left, we headed back in. It would have been hard to top that encounter.

A coastal manta ray waves farewell
Finally, the manta waves goodbye as it heads out into deeper waters.

Better Days: Dead fish

Dead fish among rocks at Kiholo, Hawaii

On a walk at Kiholo, I noticed a bit of a ripe smell in the air. When I got to the top end of the lagoon I found the reason for it. The shoreline was littered with clumps of these dead fish. There must have been several hundred of them all told. I don’t know the reason for the stranding, but the scene reminded me of images of fish markets or still life paintings.

Rainbow Cyan

A rainbow off the coast of HawaiiA rainbow in black and white
Patterns in the sand in Hawaii
A Bullethead Parrotfish in Hawaii

This is the fifth of my rainbow colors in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Bright.’ (See more responses here.) It’s also where I get into trouble. Cyan? What’s cyan doing in a rainbow? What happened to blue?

Well, blue is coming. What’s gone is indigo. The traditional rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These colors were assigned by Sir Isaac Newton way back in the 1600s. In fact, he started with just five colors – red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later, he added orange and indigo to the color spectrum. These days though, what Newton called blue is today called cyan, and what he called indigo is now called blue.

In reality, there are no bands of color in a rainbow. There’s a continuous gradation of color. The bands are seen because the human eye is limited in the colors it perceives. Converted to black and white, the bands dissolve.

So, for my rainbow colors, I looked at my photos and what I see are red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and violet. Of course, if you look at the colors on the inside of a rainbow, you’ll see they keep going, back through the same sequence. And where the red of this supplementary rainbow overlaps the violet of the primary, the result is more of a purple color.

Having labored through all that, today’s rainbow is a small, bright segment on the ocean, with a black and white version of the same image. Then we have a patch of sand underwater, showing different patterns and colors. Finally, a bullethead parrotfish, bashes its beak on some coral in its pursuit of food.

Bright fishes

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Something Fishy.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like a good opportunity to post a gallery of some of the fish I see when I snorkel around here. Most are brightly colored or have distinctive markings.

Also posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Bright.’ See more responses here.

A whitetip reef shark cruising

A whitetip reef shark cruises off the Big Island, Hawaii

It’s been a while since I last saw a shark (cue seeing one this morning!) so I thought I’d post a couple of photos to remind myself what they look like.

This whitetip reef shark was cruising back and forth at the foot of a rocky ledge, possibly looking for a recess where it could rest.

Yellow tang school

Yellow tang swim off the Big Island, Hawaii

Yellow tangs are common here and are usually seen in schools. I like how, when they move from one feeding spot to another, they string out in long, colorful lines. They’re often seen in mixed schools with convict tangs, the paler fish with vertical black lines.