Tag Archives: Upolu

A marked monk seal pup

I posted here about seeing the monk seal Hiwahiwa on the coast below Upolu. In that post I noted that Hiwahiwa, the only monk seal pup born around the Big Island in 2020, had no tags or markings of any kind.

Some time after that sighting I saw this monk seal in the same general area. Since the seal was on the small size I figured it could be Hiwahiwa, but it didn’t move so I couldn’t even be sure if it was male or female. I reported the sighting to Ke Kai Ola, which tracks monk seals, and got the response that it probably was Hiwahiwa. They noted the line circling his body in front of the flippers and, while they can’t say with certainty how he got the scar, it’s believed he got entangled in some fishing line.

So now I have a way of identifying him and, of course, haven’t seen him since. The scar doesn’t seem to have bothered him and, like most monk seals, he looks quite contented while resting. The markings on him are where he’s been splashed by waves, the darker skin being wet and smooth.

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

Surf’s up

I was going to run photos from my archives for this post, but then last Sunday saw a large northwest swell hit the islands. This is the time of year for such conditions, which generate huge waves on the north coasts of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, and draw big wave surfers from around the world.

The other Hawaiian islands shelter the Big Island from most of these swells, but if their direction is more northerly or westerly, then we get our share of good-sized waves crashing ashore. Sunday was one such day.

These photos were taken along the North Kohala shore at Upolu. I went down onto the rocks to get some eye-level photos and had to scramble a couple of times when I saw outsize swells rolling in. In the bottom right square is a feature I call Guard Dog Rock because of its profile. On this occasion it could be called Lifeguard Dog Rock, but you’re still on your own if you go in the water.

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

Up in the air at Upolu

Skydivers over the Big Island, Hawaii
Skydivers over the Big Island, Hawaii

The skydiving business, operating out of Upolu Airport, was busy during the holidays. A typical flight deploys a pair of tandem skydivers, where a paying customer is attached to an experienced skydiver.

I was out walking when these people jumped out of the plane. After the chutes opened they maneuvered around before landing back at the airport. The lower picture is a composite of three photos, giving an idea of how they spiraled down.

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

Better Days: Old Coast Guard Station

The Old Coast Guard Station near Upolu was constructed in 1944 as a Loran station. Loran was an early navigation positioning system. The original system was Loran A, but this was replaced by Loran C in the early 1960s.

Over the years there were changes to the buildings, staffing, and equipment at the station until, in 1993, the station closed. For many years not much happened. The buildings began a steady decline. The station had been built on two different land parcels and, upon closure, these ended up in the hands of the Hawaiian Homelands and Parker Ranch.

When I first moved to Hawaii, a local policeman used to live in one of the buildings. It was all fairly low key and mellow. When the policeman moved out, Parker Ranch put up no trespassing signs and had security personnel driving by to check the area. They stopped people from walking along the coastline for exercise or to fish because, God forbid that unauthorized people should set foot on any of the thousands of acres they own. (Yes, I was bitter about that attitude.)

Eventually, Parker Ranch sold their slice of the old station and the new owners refurbished the two buildings on that property (the blue buildings in the top photo). Regular people can now walk the coastline again as the very nice owners marked a path with coconut shells.

The rest of the station continues to slowly decay. Owned by Hawaiian Homelands, the chances of anything happening in my lifetime are remote.

For more information about the history of the Old Coast Guard Loran Station near Upolu, go to http://www.loran-history.info/upolu_point/upolu_point.htm. Scroll down to Documents and find the General Information Books for 1969, 1978, and 1988 for some interesting historical information about the station and the area.

Mud bath

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

We had a lot of rain here last week, not tropical downpours, but steady, continuous rain. Along the coast, this turned parts of the dirt road into mud baths. Areas to be avoided, right? Not if you’re a mudder, someone for whom heavy rain is an excuse, a calling even, to drive their 4×4 trucks to the area and carve figure eights into the morass.

The top photo shows an area where this activity is particularly popular. The original grassless patch was about half the size of that in the photo. For walkers, it’s not quite so inviting. It’s easy to lose footing in the slick, squishy mud. And if the rain continues, this mud will wash down into the ocean affecting coastal habitat for fish and other marine life.

Fast forward past a couple of days of sunnier weather and the ground is very different. Most of the mud has dried. Those spatters sprayed around the edges of the mud bath are now nubbly, crunchy lumps in the grass. Anyone driving or walking in this area will crush those lumps into dust and when the wind blows, as it does here most of the time, that dust will blow into the ocean, etc., etc..

But it might rain again before it all blows away, except … well, you get the picture.