Category Archives: Fish

Small spotted eagle ray

A small spotted eagle ray swims in the waters off Hawaii

A few days ago, returning from a swim, I ran into this little eagle ray not far from shore. It’s probably the smallest one I’ve seen, with a wingspan of not more than two feet. But what really jumped out at me was it’s small beak, long tail, and clear white eyes. I hadn’t seen eyes like that before.

The ray looked in very good shape, which is always good to see. Some of them look like they’ve been in the wars. Like most rays, eagle rays have poisonous spines at the base of their tail so, as with most things in the water, it’s best to look but don’t touch.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Past Squares – Spiky.’ See more responses here.

Bluefin trevally

A bluefin trevally in the water off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii

I was getting close to the ladder where I get out after a swim, when two large bluefin trevallies went by. One swam off, but the other one turned around and to check me out and I snapped this one photo in murky water.

I was happy how it cleaned up and how it caught the fish’s curiosity and it’s sparkling blue markings.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Past Squares – Blue.’ See more responses here.

Manta ray maneuvers

A manta ray approaching
A manta ray approaching

Becky’s October Squares challenge theme is ‘Past Squares,’ which is to say one can use any of the themes previously used during the challenge’s four year run. I’m going to run photos for earlier themes, before I started doing this challenge. So this is for the challenge theme of ‘Past Squares – Blue.’ (See more responses here.)

I’m starting with a manta ray encounter from a couple of months ago. This was a very playful manta, which seemed to take great pleasure from its underwater ballet of swoops and loops. In these photos, it carves a turn through somewhat cloudy blue water. I posted a couple of other photos of this encounter a while back, which can be seen here.

Spinner dolphins

Spinner dolphins off Hawaii

I’ve seen spinner dolphins on several occasions lately, both from the shore and in the water. But each time I’ve seen them, they haven’t been hanging around, but heading from A to B with purpose. In such situations, I mostly hope some will pass by close enough for me to get a photo or two.

On this occasion, the top photo shows a group passing by on my seaward side. Then I turned and captured the bottom group zipping by between me and the shore. A week or so later, another pod passed by, but the water was murky and the views not great. But then a few stragglers passed quite close and the reason for their relative sloth became clear; there were a couple of baby dolphins not yet able to keep up with the speeding main pod.

However, I didn’t get photos of them because my camera wasn’t working. A short while later, it suddenly recovered, but the episode illustrated the increasingly erratic behavior of the camera. Finally, a few days ago, it got to the point where it seems to have irretrievably given up the ghost.

The next time I went for a swim, it seemed odd not to have a camera in my hand. I’ve already ordered a replacement, which I hope arrives speedily. In the meantime, I’m nervous about going snorkeling, afraid that I’m going to have one of those once-in-a-lifetime encounters with no photographic record!

Spinner dolphins off Hawaii

Another spotted eagle ray encounter

A spotted eagle ray swims in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii
A spotted eagle ray swims in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii

Last week, I posted about an encounter with three spotted eagle rays (here). A few days after that I ran into one of the small eagle rays a little farther up the coast. The visibility wasn’t good – those pink spots are small organisms floating in the water – but the ray came so close that I was able to get a few photos. I’m pretty sure this was the same one that was so curious on the first encounter. This time it didn’t hang around but drifted by, disappearing into the murky water.

A spotted eagle ray swims in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii

Watching an octopus

A day octopus in the waters off Hawaii

The easiest way to spot an octopus is to see it swimming (top photo). They’re not large creatures but they’re quite distinctive when they swim.

If they’re not swimming, one thing to look for is certain fish, such as goatfishes and jacks, just hanging around in a spot for no apparent reason. When these fish are hunting alone, they tend to be more active in probing the rocks and trying to disturb prey. But when they’re hunting with an octopus, they seem more content to let the octopus do the work and snapping up whatever emerges. I’ve found that goatfishes are particularly helpful as an octopus indicator.

A while back, there were videos online of an octopus apparently punching a goatfish. I wasn’t surprised by this. The octopuses I’ve seen don’t seem best pleased by the presence of goatfishes. Part of this might be down to feeling that the goatfishes are not pulling their weight in the hunt. But another factor might be that if goatfishes give away their position, for the octopus that can be fatal.

Octopus is a popular food in Hawaii and has long been so. If I’ve learned to look for goatfish as an indicator of their presence, then no doubt spear fishermen have too. These days, if I see an octopus when anyone’s spear fishing nearby, I don’t do anything to draw attention to it.

A day octopus in the waters off Hawaii

A family outing?

Three spotted eagle rays in the waters off Hawaii

On a recent snorkeling outing, my wife and I hadn’t gone far when we saw these three spotted eagle rays cruising around. The one was bigger than the other two and I wondered if this was a family group.

The three went back and forth before disappearing in the direction we’d come from. Or rather two of them did. The third, the smallest of the three, looped around a few times and seemed keen to demonstrate just how quickly it could turn and swoop and soar. Eventually, it followed the others.

A spotted eagle ray in the waters off Hawaii

We swam a little farther, then turned and headed back. It wasn’t long before we ran into the two juvenile rays again. Both were zipping around, carving turns, dipping down and rocketing up. Again, the smallest one was the most demonstrative and I got the feeling it was just having a ripping good time, practicing its acrobatics.

But it was also clearly quite curious. A couple of times it came straight up to me and I could see it looking at me, probably wondering what this cumbersome creature was in the water. I like to think I helped confirm its own superior swimming skills as I splashed my way back to the shore.

Three spotted eagle rays in the waters off Hawaii