Category Archives: In The Water

Chubs cleaning

A chub cleans itself against a rock

It’s not unusual to see a variety of fish performing the same maneuver as this chub. I think what it’s doing is rubbing off parasites that attach themselves to fish. They seem to like this particular rock, possibly because of its rounded top and just the right amount of abrasiveness.

Orangespine Unicornfish

An Orangespine Unicornfish in the waters off Hawaii

This brightly-colored fish is fairly common in shallow waters. Those orange spines at the base of the tail are reputed to be very sharp, though I have no desire to field test that. One would have to be unlucky or unwise to be on the receiving end of them. They’re intended for use in encounters with other fish.

Whitemouth Moray Eel

A whitemouth moray eel in the waters off Hawaii
A whitemouth moray eel in the waters off Hawaii

At one of my regular snorkeling spots, there’s a spot I call The Eel Motel. It’s a little hole in the rock, which is often occupied by a small Whitemouth Moray Eel or Yellowhead Moray Eel. On this visit, the former was home.

In the top photo, the eel’s head is on the left and its tail on the right. Even though the eel has its mouth closed, the white tip to the tail is another sure identifier. I drifted above it, taking photos, while its head twisted back and forth keeping track of me.

The markings on these eels can vary quite a bit, one of which is a full spread of bold white spots, such as these.

Magnificent manta rays

Two manta rays in the waters off Hawaii

Yesterday, my wife and I hadn’t been in the water long when we saw large shapes ahead. There were two manta rays in fairly shallow water that was a bit churned up and cloudy. I took photos, but wasn’t optimistic they’d turn out in the conditions. The mantas swam away and we followed at a distance. There’s no point chasing mantas. Like most things in the water, they can put on a burst of speed that would leave us far behind.

Two manta rays in the waters off Hawaii

The mantas didn’t go far before they curled around and came back towards us. The water was clearer in this area and sunlight illuminated them as they headed our way. The lead manta was quite a bit bigger than the other one, probably around a 14-foot wingspan. They passed close beneath us, then turned again, looped around and headed back. They did this back and forth three times before finally moving on.

Later, when I was coming back, I saw the big manta again. It was in deeper water that was more cloudy so I didn’t get photos, but I watched as it did a couple of loop de loops and some sharp banking and turning. It just seemed to be having a fun day in the ocean and in doing so, made it a fun day for us, too.