Tag Archives: Turtles

Green turtle circling

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swims by
A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swims by

I was snorkeling in some fairly hazy water and lamenting that, on such a day, I wasn’t going to get any decent photos unless something swam right up to my face. Not long after, this little turtle showed up and did just that. It looped around me several times before diving lower and heading away. But it made my day and I was glad I hadn’t given up on my swim earlier when I was feeling as gloomy as the water.

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swims by

First visit to Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Meaningful Memories.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

A look back at 2021

A Hawaiian monk seal resting
January: Hiwahiwa, a male Hawaiian Monk Seal born in 2020, rests at Upolu. Haven’t seen any monk seals since this encounter. (Link)

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘2021 in Your Rear-View Mirror.’ See more responses here. I’ve gone with a favorite photo from each month of 2021, with a caption and link to the post the photo first appeared in.

Wainanali’i lagoon at Kiholo, Hawaii at Kiholo, Hawaii
February: I love hiking at Kiholo Bay. There’s plenty to see and shady spots to rest awhile. (Link)
Spinner dolphins in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii
March: Swimming with dolphins! Need I say more. (Link)
An I'iwi calls in a forest off Saddle Road, Hawaii
April: Another favorite hike, on Pu’u O’o Trail off Saddle Road, and an endemic I’iwi singing its heart out. (Link)
Close up of a coastal manta ray approaching
May: This inquisitive Manta Ray kept returning, probably wondering how something so clumsy-looking could survive in the water. (Link)
A Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly perched on a twig
June: I like seeing little creatures, such as this Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly, and I’m thrilled when the photos turn out. (Link)
Three palm trees in Hawaii
July: I like palm trees and word play so this was too tempting to pass up for Becky’s Tree Squares. (Link)
A school of mackerel scads, or Opelus being hunted by a rainbow runner off Hawaii
August: An instant in the water – a school of Mackeral Scads chased by a Rainbow Runner. They went by in a matter of seconds. (Link)
Red-masked parakeets at Kohanaiki Beach Park.
September: These Red-Masked Parakeets are not native, but they’re oh so tropical. (Link)
Early morning lights at the port of Kawaihae, Hawaii
October: When I have time, on my way to work, I stop at Kawaihae. I might see anything from a glorious sunrise, to a tiny crab on the beach, to these port lights. (Link)
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
November: Kilauea erupted again so I had to go look. The eruption is still going, but a little erratically these days. (Link)
A Green turtle, with a slender remora on its shell, checks out the photographer
December: A recent encounter and maybe my favorite Hawaiian Green Turtle photo. (Link)

A green turtle says hello

A Green turtle, with a slender remora on its shell, checks out the photographer

I was snorkeling yesterday, when I looked up and saw this green turtle coming towards me. It was near the surface and heading up so I thought it might be about to take a breath. Instead, the turtle, which was quite small, leveled off and kept coming my way.

Usually, in the water, I have a bit of zoom on my camera since that’s often needed. In this instance, I zoomed out and found myself leaning back to keep the turtle in the image. It came within a foot of me and I thought we were going to butt heads, but at the last moment it stopped, veered, then swooped down and away.

It wasn’t until I got home and processed my photos that I noticed the slender remora on the turtle’s shell, behind its head. Remoras, which don’t harm their hosts, attach themselves by means of a sucker disk on their heads, so what can be seen on this turtle is the underside of the fish.

I don’t change my desktop image often, but the top photo makes me so happy I popped it up immediately, so I’m posting it in response to Clare’s monthly Share Your Desktop challenge (see more responses here).

A green turtle swims by

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

Green turtle swimming in Kiholo Bay

A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii

The last time I was down at Kiholo Bay I saw this green turtle in one of the pools around the edge the lagoon. When the turtle saw me, it might have felt a bit vulnerable in such shallow water. It immediately headed for the lagoon proper, at a leisurely pace, before cresting a ridge and easing into deeper water. Once there, it popped up for a breath, then disappeared into the milky waters.

A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii
A green turtle swims in Kiholo Bay, Hawaii

A walk around Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay sits midway between Kailua Kona and Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island. There are two main access points to the bay. One is via a gravel road south of the Kiholo Scenic Overlook on the main highway. This road takes you down to Kiholo State Park Reserve where there’s a campground and access to the beaches. I usually go that way, but on my last visit I wanted to try the hike from the main road.

There’s an unmarked parking area north of the scenic overlook. From there it’s about a mile to the coast, along a dirt and gravel road. This passes through scrubby trees where it’s likely goats will be encountered. They’re abundant in this area. The private property alongside the road is well marked, as is the public trail through to the beach. This trail comes out near a funky building decorated with things the tide washed in.

I headed to the right, along the beach towards Wainanali’i lagoon. There are a couple of houses along here, a palm-circled pool, and usually a canoe or two under the trees. Beyond the houses, a small bridge traverses a channel which connects the ocean to Wainanali’i fish pond. This is believed to have been built by King Kamehameha I, as part of an extensive fish collection and farming operation in the bay.

A bit farther along, a blue Kiholo Bay Fisheries Management Area sign marks where the trail forks. To the right, inland, it follows the old King’s Trail to Keawaiki. To the left, it hugs the shoreline heading north alongside Wainanali’i lagoon (top photo). The trail is loosely marked with white coral and/or cairns, but it’s not vital to follow them. I stick to the shoreline.

The lagoon is the remnant of a much larger fishpond, which was around 2 miles across and protected by a 20-foot wide lava rock wall. Much of it was destroyed by a lava flow from Mauna Loa’s 1859 eruption. Today, the lagoon is a prime area for seeing green turtles. They haul out on a rocky island marking the mouth of the lagoon and on the spit that separates it from the ocean. This is where they rest so it’s important not to get too close and disturb them. I also usually see turtles in the water. They putter along the edge in blue-green water, which can give them a wavy appearance. Small fish are abundant here and are often seen.

Once at the head of the lagoon I watched humpback whales splashing and slapping offshore. It’s possible to walk down the spit (not disturbing the turtles), and if it’s calm you can wade or swim across the lagoon entrance back to the trail. Following the coast northwards will take you to Keawaiki, but I retraced my steps until I got back to where I first reached the coast. Then I carried on along the beach.

The waves were rolling in, good news for surfers. The beach here is sandy and vegetation borders it. If the tide’s in a bit of paddling is required. On the other side of this, some private houses border the beach including the Bali House and a sprawling, yellow structure.

Farther along, behind the beach, is Keanalele waterhole, also known as Queen’s Bath. This is a collapsed lava tube, filled with a mix of freshwater and saltwater, where it’s possible to take a dip in the manor of Hawaiian royalty of yesteryear. The parking area for Kiholo State Park Reserve, back in the trees, is followed by the Loretta Lynn house and the campground.

Here, along with several places along the walk, a fair number of birds can be seen including black-crowned night herons, wandering tattlers, Pacific golden plovers, yellow-billed cardinals, and northern mockingbirds.

The southern end of the park is marked by Waia’elepi anchialine pool. Anchialine pools form in volcanic rock and are connected underground to the ocean. The water is brackish, but the pools can be home to a wide variety of species. I saw goats drinking here as well as a variety of birds and insects flying about.

From there, I headed back to the car on the gravel road which parallels the coast and connects to the trail I came down on. My walk was about 5 or 6 miles, but I took more than 4 hours to cover that distance since I do tend to stop a lot!

For more walks worldwide, see Jo’s Monday Walks. Also posted in response to the current Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘On The Way.’ See more responses here.

Green turtle coming up in Kiholo

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Glacier Blue.’ See more responses here.

We’re a little short on glaciers here on the Big Island, but the color description made me think of Kiholo Bay, where fresh water intrusion gives the water a different look to most places around here. The bay is also a great place to see turtles, which can be seen in the water and hauled out on the shore to rest.

This turtle was swimming in the bay where the gently rippling surface gave it an abstract appearance as it came up for air.

Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.