Signs: You’re going to die

This sign marks the border between Hualalai Resort and one of the public beaches there. It’s the equivalent of prescription drug warnings that taking them might turn you into a four-armed, paranoid psychopath.

Here, the dangers include man-o-wars, sharp coral, slippery rocks, sudden drop-off, dangerous shorebreak, high surf, and strong current. Oh, and there’s no lifeguard on duty. Well, no wonder, they’d have to be crazy to enter the water there.

Spotted pufferfish

Usually, I see spotted pufferfish swimming alone, but these three spent some time together as a group. Also unusual was that they were swimming up in the water where they caught the sunlight.

Upolu

I call this spot Fran Point since that’s the name on the cross in this photo. Here, a rainbow arches over the coast and the surf rolling in.
An endangered Hawaiian monk seal rests in a tide pool along the rocky shoreline.
A monarch butterfly on a tasselflower.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Favorite Place.’ See more offerings here.

I could think of several places on the Big Island that would fall into the category of favorite place. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Palila Forest Discovery Trail, the ocean – all these are places I return to. But the coast at Upolu is where I go for exercise and to enjoy the ever-changing scene there.

This stretch of coast features scenic high cliffs interspersed with lower areas where tide pools nestle among the rocks. Often, there’s a great view of Maui across the ʻAlenuihāhā Channel. In those waters I look for humpback whales, turtles, monk seals, and once, even a passing shark. Up in the air I might see anything from plovers to noddys to great frigatebirds. On land, there’s an assortment of birds, bugs and butterflies to be seen, as well as horses, cattle, and the occasional wild pig.

Sometimes, it’s hot and dry, but usually there’s a decent breeze, occasionally strong enough to make me lean into it while blown dirt sandblasts my legs. Sometimes, I get caught in the rain, but when I do, I’m usually dry again by the time I get back to my truck.

I’ve lived here seven years now and I never tire of going down there and looping around the fenced airstrip, wondering what I’ll see.

A bristle-thighed curlew strides along the edge of the airstrip at Upolu.
A humpback whale cruises no more than 50 feet offshore. This was one of a pair that I saw just this past week. I suspect they were a male and female, with the male interested in mating before heading north to Alaska. Not only was this as close as I’ve seen whales, but it was the first time, from land, that I’ve heard a whale do anything other than blowing. In this case, the pursuing whale made a deep, two-toned mooing sound as it went by.

House sparrow

I watched this house sparrow hopping around on a lanai. The light gave the whole image an interesting metallic effect.

Abstracts: Fish in a tide pool

A small fish, possibly a blenny, waits in a tide pool. The movement of the water in the pool created the interesting visual effect.

Arc-eye hawkfish and bleached coral

This is a typical pose for an arc-eye hawkfish, keeping very still as it nestles in a head of cauliflower coral. But the coral is not well. This patch is mostly bleached. The causes of coral bleaching include warmer than normal water temperatures, pollution, and sunscreens containing coral-killing ingredients.

Because of this third factor, Hawaii has passed a bill which will ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. This law goes into effect January 1, 2021. While this will help, it won’t do anything to keep harmful chemicals out of water runoff, and it won’t do anything to prevent the warming of the Pacific Ocean.

Last fall, we had a coral bleaching event here because of warmer ocean temperatures. It wasn’t as bad as feared, but still did damage to corals that were just recovering from previous bleaching events. There are one or two snorkeling sites here that I don’t visit anymore because the state of the coral is just too depressing. I’d like to think that this degradation can be reversed but, honestly, I’m not optimistic about that.

Halo around the sun

I was about to set out on one of my regular walks at Upolu, when I looked up and saw this halo around the sun. It’s the first I’ve seen here (which doesn’t mean there haven’t been others).

In days of yore, halos were considered a sign of impending bad weather. In this case, there’s some evidence to back that up. The ice crystals that cause halos are found in clouds, high in the troposphere, and these clouds are often a sign of an approaching weather front. Sure enough, the next day was fairly wet though, ironically, not in the area where I saw the halo.

Dwarf date palm

This is a dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii), which I like particularly for its nobbly trunk. It hails from Vietnam and Thailand an is also known as pygmy date palm or miniature date palm