Thursday, December 18, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tiger Shark

Yes, that is a really big shark. This is the first time I have seen a Tiger Shark, and he was a big one: Twelve to fifteen feet was the final thought. Divers on the boat spotted what they thought were small, innocent, playful dolphins splashing on the horizon, so we took the boat in for a look. NOT dolphins! As we neared the splashing, we noted that it looked too... side-to-side? for dolphins, and then we saw the fins: Greyish brown, floppy, and a large space between dorsal and tail fin. Too large! We came right up on him and the Captain killed the engines. We gathered at the edge of the boat to see what he was after, because we could see the blood and, well, bits... floating on the surface. The shark nudged the body again and it flipped over to reveal hoofs: He had a goat. We stayed with him for a few minutes as he leisurely chomped away, and with one final swoop on the surface, he flashed his stripes, rolled his eyes back, opened his jaws and took the goat down into the depths.
Makes me aware I am not at the top of the food chain!

I didn't take this photo: A guest on the boat, Joyce B., took this photo and a few more, which I await via email.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Underwater Dancing

One of my most favorite students, 10 year old Isabella! We like to dance underwater, and while this dance was longer (I spun her a couple times before she spins me) her friend the videographer just captured this much.
This was a recent dive on the Kohala Coast: Potter's Reef, I believe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photography. Underwater.

Yes, I have been resistant to taking photos underwater: I find that photo-hogs are exceptionally rude underwater, often destroying coral, interupting behavior, or ruining experiences for other divers. Recently, however, I was tasked to take photos of divers underwater, and I didn't know how to use the camera well.
Enter my friend Paul, an amazing photographer and photography teacher, who happened to be in need of a few more student certifications. We used his Canon, housing, strobe, and various lenses over the course of two dives.
I am now certified with PADI as a Digital Underwater Photographer. I enjoyed the class very much, especially the opportunity to work on my technique without any professional pressure to lead dives. I doubt I shall ever feel comfortable enough to take a camera to work and take photos while also leading divers (cameras are already not allowed while teaching students: A policy I support).
The first photo is of a local nudibranch (shell-less sea slug) the Poliahu (Glossodorus Poliahu), an indiginous nudi from here in Hawaii. She is named for the Hawaiian Snow Goddess, as the small white dots appear like a dusting of snow. Note the spiral next to the slug? This will be her eggs! I love how the eggs are frilly like the nudi is frilly!
The second photo is of a White Mouth Moray Eel who was very patient with me taking photo after photo of him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another IDC?

Where have I been? September was full of diving, but not the usual diving! I was auditing a PADI Instructor Development Course and Instructor Exam (which I took two years ago) in order to become a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. Which I did!
We had Course Director Bob, an official IDC Staff Instructor Matt, four of us IDC Staff Instructor candidates, and four Divemasters wishing to become Instructors (Spoiler Warning: Everyone passed!)
Our course consisted of learning how to train Instructors, and learning how to grade presentations like the Instructor examiner does. We also helped train the candidates through mentoring, skills workshops, advice, and criticism. It was fascinating to go through the entire Instructor process without the stress of two years ago!
Wonderful opportunity and i would do it again in a second!
(Which I will need to do: The next rung in the PADI ladder for me would be Master Instructor, where I will need to audit a few more IDCs! Bring it on!)
Congratulations to us all, especially the new Open Water Scuba Instructors who had to go through the stress of the class and the exam with 6 sets of eyes on them! They did well under the circumstances.
All props to CD Bob Hajek who is an incredible instructor, mentor, inspiration, and juggler (of 9 Staff/Students!)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Whale Photo on Schmap!

My Humpback Whale photo has been chosen for inclusion on the Schmap of Kohala Coast! This was a mother and calf that I photographed this winter. Yay! I am not a very good photographer, but I guess I am actually a Professional, since my photos have appeared in the (now defunct) Hawaii Island Journal.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Divers on 20 Mile Drift!

Now THIS is what I call a drift dive! I'm glad to hear that they found and rescued these 5 European divers who were caught in a current after their Indonesian dive. They drifted 20 miles, finally swimming to the island of Rinca, their last hope before being swept into open ocean. There, they apparently had to ward off the hungry advances of a Komodo Dragon.
What could have been a tragic new article in a dive magazine now makes a great story of survival. Kudos to the 5 divers who acted calmly to save their hides.

Photo from Yahoo news: AFB/ Andrew Yates.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why I Need UW Video

I just saw the coolest thing on the night dive I led tonight:
It started out as a nice, typical, large yellow margin moray eel. He was about 5 feet long, maybe about 5 inches in diameter, speckled brown and yellow with a distinctive yellow stripe down his spine. I watched him as he hunted, darted into holes, and swam languorously around and through corals. Moray eels hunt at night, but have notoriously bad vision. I watched him snap unsuccessfully at a few fish, including some yellow tangs. This lasted about 5 minutes or so. Most of my divers were up already, and it was just me and the eel, soon to be joined by my last diver.
Suddenly the eel darted into a hole, which was actually a short (18 inches?) tunnel. We watched his tail end squirm a bit before following the tunnel to the other end, where there was a cloud of disturbed sand in the water: The eel had caught a yellow tang! The poor fish was clamped in the eel's mouth, it's little eyes bulging and it's fins flailing to no avail! The yellow margin moray has to work himself into the correct position to squeeze and then eat a fish of that size (he was maybe 6 inches?) but the eel was having difficulty working into the correct knotted position while his head and tang were out one end of the tunnel and his tail end was out the other. He kept looping and undulating over himself to get a better grip. This lasted about 2 minutes.
Out of nowhere a second eel, a greyish moray with a whitish spine stripe, came snaking through the coral. He darted into the first hole and snapped his jaws down on the yellow tang! Both eels were clamped on the tang's poor yellow body, one from each edge, and the eels were using all their muscular strength to tug-of-war the fish into their possession. Their rippling, sinuous bodies were rolling over each other, grey with yellow, while the center pearl of this twisted knot was a very distressed tang with two toothy jaws clamped on him!
Finally the grey moray tried a different tactic: He let go of the tang and clamped onto the yellow margin moray instead, leaving two white fleshy gashes in the last 10 inches or so of the yellow eel. Ouch! The yellow eel momentarily let go of the tang in shock, and, amazingly, after being mangled in the double jaws of death for about 5 minutes, the yellow tang quickly made it's escape. Yes, bruised and probably cut, the yellow tang lived! Amazing!
The grey moray claimed the tunnel for his own hunting, and the yellow margin swam off to nurse his gnashed tail.

I realized that I had my hand on my regulator the whole time because my jaw was on the sea-floor.
It is amazing to witness behavior from sea-life, and I feel so lucky to have seen this little scene from about 4 feet away. Better than Tee-Vee fer shure, but it would have made a damn good YouTube!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I had this dream recently where I was wearing full scuba gear, wetsuit, and fins. And also roller skates. With my fins. But it was okay, because I know how to skate backwards. (When wearing fins, one walks backwards).
In this dream I was going to pick up my brother. (I don't know how I was going to pick him up, since my modes of transportation were fins and skates...). After I made it backwards down his driveway and he answered the door, he looked me up and down, took in the whole outfit, and with a quizzical look in his eyes, asked me,
"Are those new glasses?"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You Belong in Milan

Stylish and sophisticated, you want to enjoy a truly European life - away from tourists!

Milan fits you perfectly. Great shopping, high quality food, lots of culture... with very little hype.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Taken from a stopped boat: Camera held underwater.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Whales!

Here is another whale shot to share. I took this one of a mama and calf, which swam past the boat:
They are so amazing. The mothers have given birth recently and the baby whales are building strength and practicing skills for the upcoming journey North. We recently saw a new-born whale being pushed up to the surface by it's mama: They must learn to breathe as soon as they are born. Even more impressive are the breaches: Diving co-worker Robyn shot this incredible photo of mama and baby jumping out of the water:

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Diving a ton this month!

Diving for me began mid-month as we started to get more tourists, my brother included. Since then it has been non-stop boats, sudents, dive-shop work, and even a night dive!
The big news this time of year are the whales. I first spotted a returning humpback this year in late November, and just about now in January we are seeing the baby whales with their mom's and escorts. This week we even saw some baby whales breaching the surface and slapping their tails!

I am cold (my new wetsuit should be coming in soon. My current wetsuit is 3 years old and really compressed) and tired and my shoulders ache from slinging tanks. But I am really, really happy!