Archive for July, 2007

Snorkeling in Shark Cove

July 10th, 2007 | Category: Hawaii,scuba,Travel

Shark cove is on Oahu’s north shore, an area beloved by surfers. This cove has some of the best snorkeling on the island during the summer. I’d love to dive there as well. Even the most casual swimmer can see a great variety of life in the shallows.

Top left: yellowfin goatfish. Top right, Ringtail surgeonfish? Center: Achilles Tang. Bottom right: some kind of parrotfish? Bottom center: ? Bottom left: ?

After snorkeling, I saw these adorable little birds – common waxbills, not a native.

Here you can see the birds foraging, eating grass seeds. They weigh so little that their weight barely bends the grass.


Work happens

July 05th, 2007 | Category: Hawaii

I’ll leave out most of the details about work. Suffice it to say that every few days, I get on a plane, usually before before the sun rises, and fly for 10 hours performing the surveys. I don’t pilot the aircraft, but operate equipment on board.

me on the P-3

There is a crew of about 11 people that fly the plane, fix things, and operate sensors. Think of the bridge of the enterprise from Star Trek, where there is a science position, a command position, a sensor station, a communications station, etc. Sometimes we fly over 3000 miles, but we usually fly in a circle and return to the same place. I like working with the Navy crews, particularly on this assignment, because they are very professional and are working with us closely to accomplish our goals.

I can’t always post images of what I do, but here are some images from previous missions.

The missions are sometimes boring, sometimes cause terrible air sickness, and sometimes are really exciting and take me to exotic places. I keep doing it, so I must like it! A recent exotic place was midway island, which we only flew over.

midway island

No comments

The Pali lookout, Ko’olau range and Maunawili trail

July 03rd, 2007 | Category: Hawaii

The Ko’olau mountain range is a spectacular knife-edged volcanic ridge that separates the northeast side of the island from the southeast. It is like a wind-block that protects Honolulu. Every guidebook will explain about the windward and leeward sides of islands, and how one side (the windward side) has more rain and the leeward side is dryer. It is certainly true, and very obvious when you see it for yourself. The Pali lookout is a small park lodged in a pass between the two sides. The wind howls through here in a legendary and impressive way. There is an abandoned highway that winds down to the northeast side and feeds into the Maunawili trail, which I walked until it intersected the Maunawili falls trail (maybe three miles one way from the Pali lookout). The abandoned highways is overgrown and a great place to see birds, once you get away from the wind. Unfortunately, the active Pali highway is nearby and makes a lot of noise for the first mile or so. As you go down the old road, there is some great volcanic geology visible on the wall of the cliff side.

Here is a view of the Kailua area from the abandoned road:

This is Kaneohe:

Here is a view westward along the Ko’olau range. There seems to be a perpetual cloud band at the ridge edge.

This bird is a red-billed leiothrix, another introduced animal. They are found mostly in the elevated wet forests.

A red-vented bulbul

There are a couple of spots along the Maunawili trail as you approach the falls trail that present awesome views, the kind that make you draw in breath.

The clouds near the summit edge are constantly changing, making for dramatic lighting.

Walking along the Maunawili trail, you will pass a number of stream beds and waterfalls. They are not always full or tumbling, but there is probably always enough to depend upon if you have a water filter. Looking eastward, you can see Makapu’u head, which I visited on this trip (there is an entry for it):

This view of rabbit island was lit by the setting sun beaming in at a steep angle underneath the Ko’olau summit clouds.


Diving – the wreck of the Sea Tiger

July 02nd, 2007 | Category: Hawaii,scuba,Travel

Wrecks are usually great dives because they attract so much life. Also, the creepy vision of a wreck materializing during the descent is a unique experience. I think that people are fascinated with shipwrecks because they represent death and the afterlife. A sunken ship is a dead soul, and visiting it evokes a trip across the Styx. Things sunken and vanished have been lost to this world, but with some equipment and training, you can imitate hercules and make a round-trip voyage to the underworld. Along the way you will see things as strange as could exist on any alien planet.

The surface:

The descent:

At 30 feet, the wreck begins to appear:

At the mid-deck, perhaps 70 feet in depth:

Finally, from near the sea bed at 100 feet, the ship’s silhouette, ghostly in the light from which all reds and greens have been stripped:

Schools of fish weave in and out of the structure.

Where does the coral end and the fish begin? This is a Hawaiian Freckled Frogfish.

A spotted boxfish. I see these on every dive, but they are hard to photograph (as are most fish) because they don’t like to be approached.

I’m not sure what this thing is – maybe a sea slipper?. It looks like a lobster tail with legs. It is very well camoflaged, and the only reason I noticed it was because it moved.

No comments

Makapu’u Head

July 02nd, 2007 | Category: Hawaii

Today I took a drive from Waikiki east past Hanauma bay, past Koko crater and up to the eastern-most part of the island where the endless trade winds make landfall. This area is called Makapu’u and there is a park, containing a small mountain area with old military fortifications and a lighthouse. From the top, you get a great view of the ocean between Oahu and the next few islands (Moloka’i, Lana’i and Maui). I was able to see the islands but they were difficult to distinguish from clouds.

The real treat was the way the sun played on the water, causing it to alternate between deep blue and brilliant aqua as the clouds raced overhead in the astonishing wind. Climbing down the side of the hill overlooking the lighthouse, I had trouble remaining on my feet.

This is supposed to be a good place to watch for whales in the winter, but in the summer there are none. I did see some Laysian albatrosses, and plenty of the ubiquitous zebra doves, foraging by digging scrapes in the ground:

On the way to Makapu’u, there are a number of lookouts and beaches that are beautiful and also great places to take pictures of birds. The highway views reminded me of route 1 in california, but in a more volcanic way. I saw the appropriately named common red-crested cardinal and common mynah (where don’t you see them in Hawaii?).

From the hill overlooking the lighthouse, there is a really good view to the west, towards Waimanalo, Kailua, and Kaneohe. There are two small islands immediately offshore, the larger named rabbit island and the smaller kaohi-ka-ipu. I liked the way the setting sun played on them.

There is also a set of blowholes called the Dragon’s nostrils in this park, but they weren’t blowing this day. I think you could spend many days in this park, which is a great place to explore, photograph birds, and get some exercise. It is much less traveled than the other points you’ll see on the way here from Waikiki, and more rewarding.

No comments

Diving – the pipeline site

July 01st, 2007 | Category: Hawaii,scuba,Travel

I haven’t been in the water in about a year, and want to start out with an easy, forgiving dive. I chose the pipeline site off of Honolulu, and limited myself to less than 60 feet. The reef environment around Oahu seems heavily damaged; it bears the scars of living so close to so many people. It is still beautiful, but can be a bit depressing. The coral around Hawaii is of a different type than Caribbean corals, and isn’t as fancy-looking even when healthy. I did OK on this “checkout dive” but wasn’t that thrilled with the dive operator, who probably had to put down his bong to answer the phone. A lot of the dive operations in Honolulu have a cattle-herding mentality and are not very professional or even safe.

There was a strong surge on this dive, so there was a lot of sand in the water.

There are more images here.

1 comment