On Saturday Marla and I met up with our buddies Jeff and Sandra for a snorkel at Ho`okena Beach Park. Ho`okena is almost two hours south of us, and we don’t get down there much, but it’s one of the Big Island’s premier snorkeling sites. Here you can find fish species—Potter’s angelfish, flame angelfish, Hawaiian garden eel—at snorkeling depths that are only found at greater depths at other sites. Jeff and Sandra are much more familiar with this site than we are, so they gave us a tour. It was quite productive…
The relationship between certain tropical sea anemones and the group of damselfish called anemonefish is a textbook example of symbiosis. It’s not clear if the relationship is commensal (only one of the participants benefits) or mutualistic (both participants benefit). It is clear that anemones provide shelter to the fish, who are immune to the anemone’s poisonous stings—anemonefish are virtually never seen away from their invertebrate hosts. Benefits to the anemones is less obvious, but there’s evidence that they receive nutrition from the fish’s waste (both feces and food scraps) as well as protection from certain species of butterflyfish that eat the anemones. It’s also been speculated that movement of the fish within the anemones’ tentacles helps clean and feed the anemone. And there may be other benefits to either or both species.
Balinese reefs are home to at least ten species of anemonefish, offering abundant opportunities to observe this fascinating interaction. I posted photos of four anemonefish species in my 12/24/17 post. On our most recent trip we spotted two additional species. But anemonefish are not the only animals that cohabit with anemones…
Marla and I just returned from a fantastic three-week trip to Bali. Like last year, our primary objective was to get in as much diving and snorkeling as we could while enjoying Bali’s delightful people and culture. Like last trip, we divided most of our time between Amed on Bali’s northeast coast and Pemuteran—with day trips to nearby Menjangan Island—on the northwest coast. Both of these face the warm, calm Java Sea. On this trip we added a couple of days in Padangbai, which faces the colder, wilder Indian Ocean. There were also the mandatory couple of days in Ubud, often described as the cultural heart of Bali, the setting for the novel and movie Eat, Pray Love. For Philistines like us it’s more like Eat, Pay, Leave. (Actually, we quite like Ubud despite its crowds and touristiness.)
I took a lot of photos of a lot of different species of fish and invertebrate. I’ll restrict myself to just a couple of posts though. Well, maybe three. Four, tops. Starting with this selection of a few of my favorites:
Some more of what we saw at Paniau last weekend.
Marla and I had a couple of great dives last weekend with Blue Wilderness. The crew were very knowledgeable about fish and showed us some really nice stuff. We went to two South Kohala sites, both off Puako: Twin Peaks and Paniau. Paniau, a fairly deep dive, was especially interesting. I had a lot of fun with my “better” camera: a Sony RX100V with housing.
More to follow…
Marla and I spent some time in Mexico last month, including a few days in Puerto Vallarta, a pretty resort town about half way down Mexico’s Pacific coast. A few miles south of town lie a handful of small offshore islands known as Los Arcos—the arches. The name comes from the fact that two of the islands form natural rock arches surrounding cavernous tunnels created through erosion over the eons.
One morning we booked a boat ride with a local dive outfit—Chico’s Dive Shop—to this popular dive/snorkel site. We spent more than two hours snorkeling around three of the islands. The water was not as clear as in Hawaii, but there were plenty of fish. Most of the species we saw looked sort of familiar, but not exactly like anything from Hawaii. Hawaiian reef fish communities share more species with the Central and Western Pacific than with the Eastern Pacific, a reflection of the vast, relatively island-free expanse of ocean separating the Americas from the major Pacific island groups and Asia. There is at least one good book on tropical Eastern Pacific reef fish identification, but I don’t own it, so I had to resort to the web for fish IDs, and some species we saw went unidentified. None of the fish shown below are found in Hawaii or the Western Pacific.
We returned from a trip to Mexico (more on that later) last week, just in time for Hurricane Lane. Finally got back in the water at Mahukona yesterday. The park was still closed due to the hurricane, so we had to walk in. The short walk from up near the highway dissuades most visitors (or could it be the prominent “Park Closed” sign?), so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Conditions were great, considering that a class three hurricane had been less than a hundred miles offshore just a day or two earlier. As soon as we jumped in at the swim ladder my eagle-eyed wife called to me. She’d spotted a pair of juvenile threadfin jacks, also known as African pompano. These infrequent visitors are among our favorite fish, and their appearance always occasions excitement. We had only planned to swim, not snorkel, so we didn’t have fins. But I was packing my trusty little Olympus camera, so managed a photo.