Tag Archives: Snorkeling

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.

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

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

Manta ray encounter

Acute halfbeaks pass in front of a manta ray off Hawaii

My most recent manta ray encounter was notable for the sheer exuberance of the ray. It swam up to my wife and me, then curved away, then came back again. At one point it moved farther off, into murkier, shallow water (which is why I didn’t get photos) and did several loop de loops for no apparent reason. It swam along with us for a while, closer to the shore, until we lost sight of it.

The top photo shows it approaching. I love it when they come straight towards me. They look so strange and yet so amazing, and there’s nothing to fear whatsoever since they’re plankton eaters and among the least dangerous creatures in the water. It wasn’t until I processed my photos that I noticed the acute halfbeaks passing between us. Ironically, this might be one of my better photos of them, captured unintentionally.

The bottom photo shows one of the ray’s curving passes with its mouth closed which, when I think about it, might be the first time I’ve seen that.

A manta ray swimming off Hawaii

Rainbow runner chasing a mackerel scad school

A school of mackerel scads, or Opelus off Hawaii

On a recent swim, I was turning to head for home when I saw this large school of fish rocketing towards me. As they zipped by I snapped the top photo. I could see they were mackerel scads, known in Hawaii as Opelu.

The reason for their haste also became clear as the last of them went by. The bottom photo shows a rainbow runner hot on their tails. Both fish are members of the jack family, but it’s a family that doesn’t get along. Mackerel scads are a favorite food of rainbow runners.

In a matter of moments, the fish disappeared out of sight. These were the only two photos I was able to take of the episode and I was thrilled that both turned out pretty well.

A school of mackerel scads, or Opelus being hunted by a rainbow runner off Hawaii

Morning swim

A spotted eagle ray swims in the waters off Hawaii
Spotted eagle ray swimming
A spotted eagle ray hunts in the waters off Hawaii
Spotted eagle ray hunting

On a morning swim with my wife a couple of days ago, we were lucky enough to see a spotted eagle ray cruising around looking for breakfast. It stopped often, to probe the sand and rocks for food, and was successful at least once, since it emerged from its efforts chewing and swallowing. This eagle ray looked a bit battered, with damage to its tail fins and a chunk missing from its right wing, but it didn’t seem to be affected by this at all.

As we continued swimming, I saw the ray heading the same way. For a while it followed us, got ahead, then we followed it. On the way we saw a couple of flowery flounders, a couple of day octopuses, a crowned jellyfish as roughed up as the ray, and an oriental flying gurnard. It’s not a great photo of that, but it’s the first one I’ve seen here.

Near the spot where we planned to turn around and head back, I passed over a hole in the rocks and, glancing down, saw the distinctive shape and colors of a green turtle. I think it must have chosen this spot to take a rest, but my appearance startled it and it clambered out of the hole and swam away.

  • A Green turtle resting in a hole in the waters off Hawaii
  • A Green turtle emerges from a hole in the waters off Hawaii
  • A Green turtle swims in the waters off Hawaii

Shortly after that, the turtle encountered the eagle ray. The two of them crossed paths a couple of times before going their separate ways.

A Green turtle and spotted Eagle Ray in the waters off Hawaii