Tag Archives: gorgonian goby

Kawaihae’s hung over gobies

Marla, Hai, and I spent a relaxed Sunday morning snorkeling around the landing craft platforms in Kawaihae Harbor. We were hoping to see the black frogfish that Hai had been seeing on one of the pilings, or maybe the lionfish that he’d seen there a time or two, but we pretty much just saw the usual suspects: a handful of nudibranch species, Gorgonian Gobies, featherduster worms, Hawaiian Dascyllus, etc.

A thick wire hanging into the water from the second landing craft platform is home to several Gorgonian Gobies. It’s amusing to watch as they periodically dart out from their stations on the wire to to snatch  passing particles of plankton, but these fish are so small—just over an inch long— that it’s hard for my and Marla’s old eyes to make out much detail. (Hai sees everything with his seeming supervision.) Examining photos after we got home we noticed that the gobies have bloodshot-looking eyes—a lot like mine would look after a long night of drinking back in the day. Like this:

One of several Gorgonian Gobies under the second platform. Look at that bloodshot eye! Gorgonian Gobies, also known as Sea Whip Gobies, are easily confused with the similar Wire Coral Goby. The latter are a bit smaller, have a less pointed snout, and are less reddish in color. Wire Coral Gobies are found pretty much exclusively on wire coral, while Gorgonian Gobies will live on anything shaped more or less like a wire or thin stick.

More of the usual suspects—a handsome family of Hawaiian Dascyllus.

Hawaiian Whitespotted Tobies among the Halameda on the rubble at the base of the breakwater. These cute little endemic puffers are very common throughout the Islands. So is Halameda, a pantropical genus of green macroalgae.

A nice sized Painted Nudibranch on the march on one of the pilings. These, Trembling, and Gloomy Nudibranchs can almost always be found at this site lately.

Small stuff at Kawaihae

Last weekend Marla and I snorkeled at Kawaihae Harbor, inside the breakwater, south of the platforms where the Army landing craft tie up. This is a warm, calm, relaxing place to snorkel—shallow, no waves, little wind. It’s also kind of barren relative to the sites we usually snorkel, with lots of dead coral, but several different coral species. And, like most sites, it yielded some interesting stuff.

We always make sure to visit the huge Plate and Knob Coral (Porites monticulosa) head southwest of the platforms. Oddly, this coral and others of its type don’t seem to be very attractive to fish. This lonely juvenile Convict Tang and a small group of juvenile parrotfish were all that we saw on this one. The light here allowed the coral to show through the fish’s translucent fins.

Cauliflower Corals attract all sorts of fish. This tiny Hawaiian Dascyllus plays hide and seek among the branches. 

There were a couple of wire corals growing from the boat ramp just a few feet off the beach. One was occupied by this Seawhip Goby. (Hoover calls it Gorgonian Goby.)  Earlier this year our friend Hai found  a couple of these fish living on a wire—not a wire coral, an actual wire— that hung into the water from one of the landing craft platforms. Hoover writes that this species can also be found on waterlogged twigs and pretty much anything else shaped sort of like a wire. The similar Wire Coral Goby is apparently more selective, usually confining itself to actual wire coral.