Yellowfin Goatfishes often hang out in large schools close to shore, providing a splash of color against the rocks. I like seeing how the schools just seem to move as one. If I came back as a fish, I’d be bumping into other fish left, right, and center.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Again the Solstice.’ See more responses here. I didn’t have any good ideas for illustrating the solstice so, instead, plumped for photos taken on the solstice.
The top photo, I’ve run before in 2019, but who doesn’t love a grumpy cat? The second photo, from 2021, is of a royal palm amongst other tropical foliage. These palms can grow to 70 feet tall and look very stately when planted in a row. This one was quite a bit smaller.
The bottom two photos show a Fiery Skipper butterfly on a Mesembryathemum flower in 2020, and a Pacific Day Octopus hunting in the company of a goatfish back in 2018.
It’s not unusual to see this kind of gang activity while snorkeling, and what they’re doing is hunting. Their prey is small fish that take sanctuary in coral heads and among the rocks.
This bunch of hunters is dominated by Blue Goatfishes, easily identified by their blue bodies and yellow saddle at the base of the tail. There’s also a Bluefin Trevally and Pacific Trumpetfish toward the bottom of the photo and, near the top of the photo, a Peacock Grouper with a Whitemouth Moray Eel curling below it.
Eels are popular members of these hunting parties because they can wriggle into the smallest spaces, flushing out prey. The goatfishes perform similar work using long, white barbels below the chin to probe small spaces in the hopes of disturbing a meal. Other fish tag along hoping to be beneficiaries of this work by being the first to snag any victims that get flushed out.
This week’s Sunday Stills color challenge theme is ‘Teal or Aqua.’ See more responses here. I’m going underwater for a selection of aquatic aquas.
The top photo shows what happens when divers have too much time on their hands.
Next, we have some Square-spot Goatfishes and a few Orangeband Surgeonfishes meandering over a patch of sand. Then a Bullethead Parrotfish displaying a variety of colors. And a shoal of Hawaiian Silversides going hither and yon over a rocky bottom.
Finally, a couple of Spinner Dolphin photos, where they swam below me over an aqua background.
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.
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.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your Happy Place.’ See more responses here.
There were a few options for this theme, but I went with this collection because I love going snorkeling and because, just a few days ago, my wife and I revisited Two Step for the final time before Hawaii loosened its restrictions on visitors. We got up early, drove down, and were in the water around 7:45 am. There were two other people swimming at that time, no one else waiting to get in.
The top photo was taken after our swim, around 9:30 am. In a ‘normal’ year, at this time of day, this whole area would be dotted with groups of people, and chairs and mounds of towels left by people already in the water. The bay would also be similarly populated with people, cruising around, looking at fish. There would be several snorkeling tour boats out in the bay, dumping people into the water. Two Step is one of the best spots for snorkeling on the island but, truth is, much of the time it’s kind of a zoo.
However, one of the nice things about Two Step, that I’ve mentioned before, is that it’s a marine reserve. No fishing is allowed and the fish have figured that out. I can’t emphasize enough how differently the fish there react to people than they do in areas where fishing and spear fishing is allowed. They’re so much more mellow and less inclined to dart away.
Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.
This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Morning Rituals.’ See more responses here.
Most mornings, I try to get in the water, as conditions and schedules allow. Morning is the best time for snorkeling as the water is usually calmer before the wind picks up as the day wears on. Visibility can vary from day to day and it can help to check surf reports to see if there are any swells moving in. But calm water doesn’t guarantee good visibility just as swells don’t always mean bad visibility. There’s only one way to be sure and that’s to jump in.
My favorite thing about snorkeling is that every day is different and I never know what I’ll see. Going to the same spot means I become familiar with some of the regulars, but there are always transient creatures passing through including rays and dolphins. And while those big creatures are great to encounter, it’s equally interesting to watch the activities of smaller fish and marine invertebrates.
It’s a rare day indeed that I don’t emerge prattling on about something I saw while I was in the water. And on those rare days, well, I’ve still had a good swim to set me up for the day ahead.