Tag Archives: Snorkeling

Green turtle diving

I first saw this turtle taking air at the surface. Then it dived an disappeared under a shelf of rock. This photo gives the impression of the sea floor sloping, but there is no horizon underwater and I like how this angle emphasizes the turtle’s descent.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

The top of Two Step

Two Step is a popular snorkeling spot, next door to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge. It gets its name from one of the entry points to the water, where two flat lava ledges make it easy to get in and out. Well, fairly easy; there’s usually a crowd gathered around the steps so it can be a bit of a scrum. Also, small sea urchins sometimes lurk in hollows in the steps.

Once it the water, there’s room to roam. I like to swim the length of the bay and out a little bit, to where I can look down the coral slopes leading to the sandy floor of the bay.

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

Top of the food chain

I’ve seen sharks when I go snorkeling, but this was the only time I’ve seen a shark from shore. I couldn’t identify it from just the fin and tip of the tail, except to rule out whitetip and blacktip reef sharks. Likely candidates would include gray, tiger, hammerhead, and Galapagos sharks.

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

A green turtle swims by

Lately, the gloom and doom enveloping the country has been matched by conditions in the water (not that I can access it anymore since all beach parks are closed). A series of swells and high winds has churned things up so that visibility is a hit and miss proposition.

So it was a joy to encounter this small turtle coming directly toward me one day, in a patch of relatively clear water. I took a couple of photos, and this one captured the moment it slid past before easing away into deeper waters.

Trumpetfish and yellow tangs

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Sea Creatures.’ See more responses here.

I go snorkeling two or three times a week and feel fortunate to see a great variety of sea creatures while I’m out. Some of these can be quite unusual or exotic. I recently saw my first titan scorpionfish, and threadfin jack juveniles are weird and wonderful. And then there was my one and only encounter with a pyrosoma.

But for this challenge, I’ve opted to go with some fish I see most times I get in the water. Yellow tangs are probably the most noticeable reef fish around. Bright yellow, they putter around in the shallows, and are easily visible in the water and from shore. Trumpetfish look nothing like yellow tang, but often take on a yellow color and blend in with shoals of yellow tang in the hopes of surprising small fish, which are their main prey.

In these photos, a trumpetfish is doing just that. While it might seem like it would be pretty obvious that the long trumpetfish is quite different from the rest of the shoal, when seen from the front, which is the business end of the trumpetfish, the distinction isn’t so great. And if the trumpetfish can get close enough, it will suck its prey in and devour it.

Titan scorpionfish

I was snorkeling recently, when I saw something distinctive on some rocks. At first I thought it was an octopus, but it didn’t look right. A lobster perhaps, but again something was amiss. Then I realized that the fin shapes I was seeing those of a scorpionfish. I focussed in with my camera and the fish scooted forward and disappeared into a crack and beneath a boulder before I could get a shot.

When I got home, I looked at my fish book and figured out that I’d probably seen a titan scorpionfish. The only scorpionfish I’ve seen previously have been devil scorpionfish, which are easily identified by their distinctive and colorful pectoral fins. The titan scorpionfish is more colorful overall but without such a distinctive signature. However, it’s the largest scorpionfish in Hawaii and the one I saw was big.

Next day, I was snorkeling in the same general area and I saw a reddish, mottled fish moving. ‘That looks familiar,’ I thought. This time the fish plunked down onto a rocky area and stayed put so I was able to get a good look at it and take some photos, of which this was the best. It was indeed a titan scorpionfish, probably the same one I’d seen the day before. I even saw the loose flaps on its lower jaw which are a prime identifying mark.

Even though I knew where it was, there were times when I looked and thought it had moved on before I could pick it out again, so well does it blend in with its surroundings.

Swimming with a manta ray

First sight of the manta ray coming toward me.
Sliding by to one side, showing an eye and its cephalic fins, while it catches the light.
Dipping lower in the water, its upper markings clearly visible.
Heading away over the coral.

My usual posts feature a single photo or perhaps two or three, but today I wanted to give an idea of a recent encounter I had in the water with this manta ray. The photos are a sequence, top to bottom, from the time I first saw it, to it fading from sight into deeper water, about a 10 minute period. The ray swam quite slowly during that time, allowing me to keep up with it.

There are two kinds of manta rays. M. birostris, also known at the ocean manta, is the larger of the two species with a wingspan of 20 feet or more. The manta in these photos is M. alfredi, or reef manta, with a wingspan of 18 feet or less. This one was probably around 12 feet across.

Starting to turn.
Crossing below me.
Coming back up over some coral.
Out of the way, little fish.
Heading my way, mouth open, but mantas aren’t menacing.
Time to say goodbye.