Monday, September 10, 2012

Whale Shark spotted on Kauai Snorkeling Trip

Photo: Christian Steen, CC-BY
A Whale Shark was spotted on one of the Na Pali snorkel tours on Kauai just a couple weeks ago. This is not very common, but for those who saw it, an unforgettable experience. If you are looking to see a whale shark on Kauai, you will have to get into deeper water and snorkel or dive often, even then, you may not be lucky enough to encounter one of these gentle giants...Luckily there is plenty of other fascinating undersea wildlife to see if you snorkel on Kauai like: Pacific Green Sea Turtles, Moray Eels, Parrotfish, Wrasses, Surgeonfish, Butterflyfish and even Manta Rays.

Did you know that the Whale Shark is considered to be the biggest fish in the sea? That's right! A Whale Shark is about as big as a bus! Don't worry though, Whale Sharks are graceful filter feeders, so it unlikely that one would gobble you up. Want to learn more fun fish facts, you can purchase FUN FISH FACTS for KIDS from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Disclaimer: (No, this photo was not taken on Kauai, but I needed one for the blog post)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Snorkeling update for Kauai's South Shore

Normally the summers on Kauai’s South Shore are too rough for good snorkeling. This had to be the mildest summer in history. The surfers were grumbling, but divers and snorkelers were taking advantage of all the flat summer days in beautiful South Shore locations like Poipu Beach and Lawai Beach.

Did you know that some of the best snorkeling on Kauai can be done from shore? That’s right, there is no need to get on a boat here, just get your gear and head out from shore. Sure, summer’s almost over, but the fall and winter months are the best months for snorkeling at South Shore beaches anyways. In fact the abundance and diversity of fish found especially at Lawai Beach is better than any other location on the island.

Large schools of Raccoon Butterflyfish and Orangeband Surgeon fish are common here as are wrasses of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Here you can watch the Rockmover Wrasse picking up and moving rocks by spitting them out. It’s a sight to see if you have never seen it before. Territorial Damselefish will chase other brightly colored reef fish from their algae patches and wrasses will fight over food. If you are lucky (or early) you may get treated to seeing a Pacific Green Sea Turtle. These graceful giants of the sea tend to frequent the area in search of their favorite food.

It’s a whole other world below the surface. It is also a whole new world in the ocean for visitors that have never snorkeled before. Here are some tips to help you have an enjoyable and safe experience: Always remember to take some time to see where the best place to enter the water is (clue: look for sand, avoid the rocks). Make sure your gear fits. Put your fins on in the water. Always swim with a partner. Snorkel at lifeguarded beaches until you are comfortable. Ask the locals questions.

If you are going to snorkel at this wonderful location it is important to know that there is a strong current that runs east to west. The safest way to avoid this current, is to look at the resort across the street and make note of the “Lawai Beach Resort” sign. Do not allow yourself to drift west beyond this sign, because this is where the current becomes extremely strong and dangerous. If you can stay on the eastern side of this landmark it can help keep you out of trouble.

The most important thing is to enjoy yourself. If you or your kids want to learn more about Hawaii’s marine life, you can pick up one of the many books on the subject like, The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book, Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles or Fun Fish Facts for Kids.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Clownfish in Hawaii?

Photo: Julie Bedford, NOAA
Did you know that there are no Clownfish in Hawaiian waters? Clownfish can be only be found in the western IndoPacific. This is because Clownfish are linked to certain species of large anemones, which are not found in Hawaiian waters. However, many people confuse the juvenile Yellowtail Coris for a Clownfish when diving in Hawaii because of its coloration. Juvenile Yellowtail Coris are common to see in the summer time.
Photo: John Coney UHH MOP, Juvenile Yellowtail Coris

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Free Reef Fish Coloring Sheets

Want to get your budding marine biologists interested in marine life and conservation this summer. You can start with these FREE reef fish coloring sheets. Each sheet has important tips on the back for Reef Etiquette or other Tips for Protecting Coral Reefs. And they include nearly all the fish you will see when snorkeling on Kauai.

Where can you get these coloring sheets? Visit Lucid Publishing's website and leave our email address behind and they will send you a link to the free download. It's that simple! Don't forget to check out their award winning title, The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book, a must have for summer vacation. You can't imagine all the color combinations that your kids will come up with!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yellowtail Coris

Yellowtail Coris, Kauai Snorkeling
Photo: Yellowtail Coris, Marty Wakat

The Yellowtail Coris is a beautiful fish! Lucky for you it is easy to spot at many locations on Kauai. The electric blue spots and the bright yellow tail are the dead giveaway for identification. The irregular green bands break up the rosy colored face. I love this fish! The Yellowtail Coris is especially common at South Shore Snorkel spots like Lawai Beach and Poipu Beach Park. So, be sure to look for it.

Juvenile Yellowtail Coris, looks like a Clownfish but it's not
Photos: John Coney, UHH MOP

Did you know that there are many different color phases for this fish? Like most wrasses, there are color differences between males, females and juveniles. And there are even some variation in color among adults of the same sex. The juvenile (below right) looks nothing like its parents! In fact, the juvenile is often mistaken for a Clownfish. However, there are no Clownfish in Hawaii. Notice that the body of the juvenile is elongate, unlike the more oval shape of the Clownfish, and there is no anemone associated with this wrasse.

So, the next time you go snorkeling on Kauai, look for the Yellowtail Coris. Take some nice photos and send them in, maybe I will feature them on this site.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Did you know that there over over 20,000 species of fish in the sea?

Photo: Steve Jurvetson, flickr, CC-BY

Did you know that 25% of the species found in Hawaii are found nowhere else in the world. Hawaii's species are unique because the island chain is so isolated. Take some time to get to know Hawaii's fish!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

World Oceans Day is June 8th, 2012

Photo:Claire Fackler, NOAA NMS
On June 8th communities around the globe will celebrate World Oceans Day as an opportunity to learn more about our ocean and take action to help conserve it. This year the celebration is bigger than ever with hundreds of family-friendly events at aquariums, zoos, museums, exciting online events, and strong prospects for a new youth movement to protect the ocean!

"A record number of aquariums, zoos, and museums are providing ways on World Oceans Day for their visitors to get inspired and take personal action to help our world's ocean," said Bill Mott, director of The Ocean Project. “World Oceans Day provides an opportunity for people across the country and around the world to celebrate our ocean connections, do more for ocean conservation, and learn more about our ocean!"

World Oceans Day coordinator, Alyssa Isakower, commented, “The worldwide response has been more enthusiastic than ever. June 8th provides a chance for the world to rally for a generation of ocean advocates who go beyond raising awareness and take real action for ocean protection.”

Here are some events that are happening locally:

Photo: Claire Fackler NOAA, NMS
 There will be a Reef Check training tonight, June 6th at the Anahola Neighborhood Center from 4-7pm. A reef ecology class will be given, followed by the survey methodology of Reef check.

Thursday June 7th will be the Eyes of the Reef training at the St. Regis Princeville by Paul Clark of Save Our Seas from 4 - 6pm. On the West Side, Hanapepe Library is hosting a Free Family Film night featuring “Dolphin Tale”.

Friday June 8th, for World Ocean's Day there will be a Reef Survey, Reef clean up, and shoreline clean up at Puu Poa beach in front of the St. Regis Princeville hotel.

Local Author, Monika Mira is offering her new Kindle Book, “Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles” as a FREE download on Amazon, Friday June 8th. She also offers free shipping on her eco-friendly, educational title, The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book. Visit her website and you can also receive FREE reef coloring sheets that give tips on reef conservation and reef etiquette.

On Saturday, June 16th, the Friends of the Hanapepe Library is hosting a World Oceans Day Fair. This is a family friendly event with lots of kid’s activities. 

You can help protect ocean resources by getting involved with one of your local Ocean Conservation Organizations. On Kauai, Malama na Apapa, Save our Seas and Surfrider Kauai Chapter are always organizing events to help protect our resources. Get involved.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snowflake Eels

It is common to see snowflake eels when snorkeling on Kauai because they are out foraging during the day. Did you know that Snowflake Eels do not have razor sharp teeth like many of their relatives? Instead, they have more flattened pebble-like teeth that help them grind their prey (usually crabs).

This Snowflake eel was spotted at Kukuiula Harbor amongst the sand and coral heads just off shore in shallow water. Snowflake eels are also commonly spotted in shallow tidepools. I have seen them in numerous locations around the island including several areas near Poipu Beach Park, Salt Pond and even in the Lydgate Ponds.