Life on the Big Island of Hawaii
Two photos of indomitable melipotis (Melipotis indomita) moths, a female above and a male to the right. This species is common across the southern United States, but many sources do not include Hawaii in its range. However, it was first recorded here in 1969 according to this paper (https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/11031) published in 1974.
Caterpillars of the moth were first found on kiawe trees but soon after turned up on defoliated monkeypod trees, hence it also being known as the monkeypod moth, because of its fondness for shrubs and trees of the legume family. They’re certainly quite common up here on the northern tip of the Big Island as I see them often when I’m out and about.
Many thanks to Daniel at whatsthatbug.com for help with the identification. For his detailed information about the moth, see https://www.whatsthatbug.com/2018/05/01/indomitable-melipotis-moth-from-hawaii/.
Northeast trade winds are Hawaii’s air conditioner, moderating what would otherwise be much hotter temperatures. The North Kohala coast is a spot where the winds whistle ashore. They can be very strong, but if you want to know how strong, the surest way is to ask a tree. This one is near the Kauhola Point light.
Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Wind.’ See more responses here.
A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of a dead blenny floating in a tide pool filled with ‘delicate creamy shells.’ Recently, I returned to that area and I realized that the creamy shells were not shells, but something growing.
It turns out they’re a kind of seaweed, padina japonica, which both surprised and delighted me, since I think of seaweed as being stringy and brown. I learn something every day.
To celebrate, I went back and took some more photos, including these two Hawaiian zebra blennies, both very much alive, and both as delightful as the seaweed, with their little blue dots under the eyes and those oh-so-charming expressions.
Thanks to Jeanne at http://hawaiinaturejournal.weebly.com/ for help with the padina japonica identification.
This bryophyllum is probably bryophyllum x houghtonii, but there are several similar looking varieties of bryophyllum. Their common names are telling, however. Bryophyllum x houghtonii is known as ‘hybrid mother-of-millions.’ Common names for other bryophyllums include ‘mother-of-millions,’ ‘prolific mother-of-millions,’ and ‘mother-of-thousands.’
Such names make it no surprise that bryophyllums are invasive. They’re also poisonous to both livestock and humans, which is problematic since these photos were taken at Pu’u Wa’awa’a, in an area occupied by sheep and cattle.
For more information about Pu’u Wa’awa’a and its trails, go to puuwaawaa.org.
On an early morning hike at Pu’u Wa’awa’a, I saw this wild pig on the hillside above me. It was busy rooting around in the dirt, hence the brown snout. Wild pigs can do an enormous amount of damage in their foraging. The photo at right shows one of many areas alongside the trail that has been dug up by pigs. These areas are susceptible to erosion when it rains.
I was glad the pig was a ways up the hill as the other damage they can do is to people who get too close. Given the size of this one, I suspect I’d have come off second best.
These are older photos, but still interesting to me. I spotted this monk seal one day, not too far from a second seal that is a regular around the Big Island.
The top photo shows some lighter marking on the side of the seal, below and behind the two dark marks. This lighter marking is bleaching, which is applied to seals when possible, to help researchers monitor the population and keep track of their travels. The bleaching only lasts a year as seals molt annually. In addition to the bleaching, most seals have red tags placed in their rear flippers, to help identify them. It can be a hit and miss method as these photos show. This seal has tags in both flippers, but they were never visible to me.
The other interesting thing is those two dark circles on the seal’s back. They’re made by cookiecutter sharks. Cookiecutter sharks are small dogfish sharks, less than two feet in length. They feed by gouging round plugs, hence the name, out of larger creatures such as monk seals.
Cookiecutter sharks live in the deep ocean during the day, sometimes at depths over two miles. At dusk they rise up toward the surface, before descending to the depths again around daybreak. Another reason not to go swimming at night.
One of the Big Island’s scenic attractions is its sprinkling of abandoned vehicles. One doesn’t have to drive too far to spot a car being swallowed by weeds or a wreck languishing just off the highway. Usually the person dumping the vehicle has stripped it of all the identifying information or never registered it and so can’t be traced.
I did a double take when I saw this car on one of my regular walks. Was this something new or something I’d simply failed to register for days/weeks/months? The latter is entirely possible, but I think this was a recent arrival that someone was not content to just abandon, but also felt it necessary to push it into the ocean. Perhaps it was stolen, perhaps used in a crime. Either way, it didn’t make it to its planned watery grave, at least not yet. Next winter’s storms might yet snatch it away. I doubt it will be retrieved before then.