Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hawaiian Domino Damselfish

Hawaiian Domino Damselfish, Dascyllus albisella, Waio'Opae, Hawaii. There was a whole school of these little beauties and they swim right up to you to take a peak!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Otter's Just Gotta Have Fun...

A river otter have a grand old time chasing his tail on a hot day! It's simply amazing how agile they are under water!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rainbow over Kapa'a

Rainbow over Kapa'a, Hawaii. In the distance is Mahukona Harbor. This is the dry side of the island of Hawaii. However, even on the dry side, there are beautiful rainbows in the middle of August.


The observatory and surrounding volcanic craters on the Big Island of Hawaii

Friday, August 26, 2011

Variegated Hau Tree

Variegated Hau Tree, Hibiscus tiliaceus, Hawaii. This tree is typically found growing near the ocean in low lying, swampy areas. This, however, is a variegated variety. The Hau is in the mallow family, Malvaceae, and can grow to around 20 feet around but generally spreads laterally through spreading roots. The flowers closely resemble flowering hibiscus to which it is related.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fresh Anthuriums at the Hilo Farmer's Market

Anthuriums, ginger and orchids for sale, $5, at the Hilo Farmer's market. Amazing, huh? Wow. The "vases" are old coffee cans (think Folgers) nicely wrapped in Ti leaves. It's one of my favorite farmer's markets. Ripe papayas, 5/$1; Ripe Pineapples $3. Just awesome!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Opihi, makaiauli or Cellana exarata. These limpits are a Hawaiian delicacy, kind of like the Hawaiian version of abalone. So much so in fact that they're pretty tough to find except on steep cliffs splashed with huge waves like this nice cliff here. At this point, they are nearly extinct on Oahu and in decline on the neighboring islands.

There are three endemic species of limpit (aka Opihi) in Hawaii. Their ancestors probably drifted over to the islands on driftwood. The less-favored black-footed 'opihi, makaiauli (or Cellana exarata), was the first to arrive and speciate into a unique Hawaiian species. The two other species could have derived from that original species or from other later introductions into Hawaiian waters. The other two species include the yellowfoot 'opihi or 'alinalina (Cellana sandwicensis) and the bigger kneecap 'opihi or ko'ele (Cellana talcosa).

The Rare King Kamehameha Butterfly

King Kamehameha Butterfly or Pulelehua in Hawaiian; this is also Hawaii's official state insect! Latin name: Vanessa tameamea. Ironic how the Hawaiian to English spelling/translation changed over the years. In any case, I've wanted to see one of these for years and all I ever found were Gulf Fritillaries. Now I know why. It turns out that the King Kamehameha Butterly depends on the Mamaki, an endemic Hawaiian Nettle, as a host plant. As the Hawaiian endemic forest declined with the introduction of invasive non-native plant species, so too did the population of the King Kamehameha Butterfly. I had to go way up into an isolated "Kipuka" forest high on Mauna Loa to see this little butterfly.

Monday, August 22, 2011

One with the Nene

Nene Goose sitting in the neighbor's lawn, Mele Kohola, Hawaii. There she sat in the grass. I sat on the lava, watching and enjoying the peace of the moment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moon Over Mele Kohola

The moon over Mele Kohola, light reflecting off the clouds with a bit of a moon-bow.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does Everything Grow in Hilo, Hawaii?

Just about everything grows in Hilo. In the areas just above Hilo, it is so wet, even the rock walls of the buildings are sprouting flowers (show here, an impatiens and a boston fern).

Ripe Pineapples

Ripe Pineapples at the Hilo Farmer's Market. You have not had pineapples until you have had hand-picked, uber-ripe pineapples at the Hilo Farmer's Market. They ran about $3 each and were so ripe you could smell the fragrant sweetness wafting around the market. They were absolutely succulent! If you're ever in Hilo, the farmer's market is officially open on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in fact, has vendors present most days until around 4pm.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Surf, Sand and Yellowtail Coris

Yellowtail Coris, Coris gaimard at Waio'opae nature preserve, Big Island, Hawaii. The waves were shoving me around a bit but I managed to float gently over a Yellowtail Coris who barely flinched and certainly never stopped hunting through the sand for food as I paused to take a few pictures.

Anole in the Morning Dew

Anole, Anolis carolinensis, in the Morning Dew in the garden at Mele Kohola.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lava Arch

Lava Arch, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii. The ocean has eroded away the supporting layers of the lava flow, leaving a lava arch. The exposed rock shows the many layers of lava flows layered one on top of another like a stack of pancakes. The varying characteristics of the rock layers lead to differing rates of erosion and the subsequent formation of caves and arches.

Visitor on the Back Porch: Madagascar Day Gecko

Madagascar day gecko, Phelsuma madagascariensis, Hawaii. I found this little guy peering through a fence at me yesterday morning. They are quite beautiful and have apparently naturalized into Hawaii.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii. This huge waterfall is just outside of Hilo and is so named, due to the rainbow visible on sunny days. These falls are somewhat unique among Hawaiian Waterfalls in that the water has carved a huge cave in back of the falls, providing a great backdrop for the mist and rainbows caused by the falling torrents of water.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Raccoon Butterflyfish

A few individuals out of a large school of Raccoon Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunula, Waio'Opae Preserve, Hawaii.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seaweed for Lunch

Green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, grazing on seaweed, Hawaii. There was an audible crackling sound of the Sea Turtle's Beak against the lava rock as he/she scraped off seaweed from the rock base.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Search of the I'Iwi

I'iwi, Vestiaria coccinea or scarlet honeycreeper, Hawaii. These have near threatened status and are imperilled by their susceptibility to avian malaria, avian pox, habitat loss and predation by non-native species. These can be found high on the slopes of Mauna Loa, typically above 4500 ft. (due to the lack of mosquitos). Reasonably decent sized populations remain on Hawaii, Maui and Kauai and isolated populations remain on Oahu and Molokai. While not endangered, these little birds are typically found high up in the canopy of old growth Ohia and Koa and are somewhat difficult photograph (just give me a good duck to photograph instead...). Thus, this blurry photograph was the best of those taken after several hours of hiking and squinting at tree tops. The birds proved somewhat skittish and generally flew off as you approached except for those in the highest trees. Autofocus in dense bramble is also a bit of a beast...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Ever Persistent White Spotted Puffer

White Spotted Puffer, Carthigastor jactator, Waio'Opae, Hawaii. One of a pair of little puffers that were persistently attempting to get at a Damselfish's nest. The Damselfish (not shown) valiantly chased them off time and time again, nipping fins and badgering, only for them to return once more.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Don't say Nay, Say Nene!

Hawaiian Nene Goose, Branta sandvicensis, at Mele Kohola on the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The nene goose is the Hawaii state bird. While there were once up to 25,000 birds, the population was reduced to 30 birds in 1952 due to habitat loss and predation by mongoose, rats and feral cats. After successful captive breeding and reintroduction, they are once again found in the wild on the islands of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii where they have been successfully re-introduced.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls, Hawaii. These falls descend 442 feet into a stream-carved gorge and are surrounded by lush tropical jungle full of ginger, heliconia and orchids. Most of the exotic flowers were originally planted, giving it the atmosphere of a botanical gardens where the plants have settled in and begun to self-propagate. For you orchid growers, I will note that both the Vandas (luzonica) and the Cymbidiums (aloifolium?) had seed pods on them and have apparently gone native.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Birds of the Hawaiian Rainforest: 'Apapane

Juvenile  ĽApapane, Himatione sanguinea, feeding from an Ohia Lehua blossom at Kilauea Iki, Hawaii. While threatened by avian influenza, avian malaria and habitat destruction, this Hawaiian honeycreeper remains a fairly common sight among the Ohia lehua trees of the high montane rainforests (above 4100 ft.) on the Big Island of Hawaii. You will typically see a flash of red darting from red Ohia blossom to blossom. While fairly common along the crater rim, it takes a long lens and some patience to get a decent picture. Note that the feathers of this and other Hawaiian honeycreepers were once used to create the Royal Hawaiian helmets, capes and kahilis.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Honest Living, Machete Skills Required

Coconut vendor at the Hilo Farmer's Market. This young man was selling green coconuts at the Hilo Farmer's Market. The coconuts were brought in by the bunch unhusked. He would then hold the coconut in his left hand while he hacked it open with a machete in this right hand (see machete on the ground). The precision at which the machete cleanly cut into coconuts (which are quite difficult to cut/husk, I might add -- although green coconuts are a little easier) was impressive not to mention the inherent danger. It was probably worth getting a coconut just for the show. Coconut husking coming soon to an X Games near you.

Little Mike

Blc. Little Mike at the Hilo Orchid Show. The show runs through Sunday, August 8th.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Full Plate

Plate Coral, Porites monticulosa, Wae'Opae, Hawaii. Layer upon layer of plate coral down into the depths. It is quite a dramatic and inspiring sight, especially if you dive down into it!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Not So Black, Black Noddy

Black Noddy, Anous stolidus pileatus or No'io in Hawaiian. Apparently, the Hawaiian form of Black Noddy is greyish (rather than black) and has bright orange feet. This one is nesting in a sea cave next to the neighbor's house.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Two Four spot butterflyfish (two spots on either side if you're wondering!) and a Convict tang (Manini) at the Waio'Opae Nature Preserve on the island of Hawaii.