Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Beautiful Dive

Wailea point is quickly becoming one of my favorite shore dive destinations. A great place to find colorful sea slugs called nudibranchs and a site commonly used by snorkel tours to swim with Hawaiian Green sea turtles. It is also the location of our latest frogfish sighting. Visibility can range from incredible to pretty murky but scuba diving can be great even on murkier days. This past weekend Heidi and I lucked out with pretty good conditions and lots of wildlife. We explored a different part of the reef filled with big coral covered rocks providing lots of cracks, crevices, and even some caves to explore. The fist cave I stuck my head into was home to a resting white tip reef shark. He refused to be startled and stayed put as I clicked away several pictures. Just outside his lair a small white mouth moray eel slowly opened and closed his mouth pumping water over his gills.

After spending some quality time with these large predators I stating looking for small stuff. I would have missed this tiny wire coral goby hanging out on the lone wire coral on the edge of the reef if I didn't know what to look for. Then this white margin nudibranch with its feathery exposed gills slowly made its way across the coral. A beautiful fuchsia flatworm outlined in bright yellow was even easier to spot but the dwarf moray hiding in a tiny crevice would have been overlooked entirely if I hadn't of been looking in every nook and cranny. Just peering out of his crack the dwarf moray dipped back into safety moments after I took this picture.

It was shortly after this that Heidi began signalling me from farther out on the reef. She had found something and by the way she was rapidly hitting her tank banger and excitedly moving her legs I figured it must be something good. So I hurried over as she pointed out the biggest frogfish I have ever seen. I have only seen two other, both on the wreck of the Carthaginian but this guy was massive. Heidi posed behind him for a few pics and then like a supermodel the frogfish posed for a couple dozen pictures, perching himself on different parts of the reef. Believing in his ultra camouflage ability he would stay very still, a true photographers dream.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Diving The Wild North Shore of Maui

We have been waiting to scuba dive the north shore of Maui for a long time. Today it all came together. Heidi and I planned to head to Maliko Gulch with our friend Pat after my baseball game today. We were a little worried that rains and winds from the nearby tropical storm would blow out the dive site but were greeted with perfect mid day conditions when we pulled up. You have to drive through a narrow rainforest road deep inside this huge gulch which ends in a bay with a little boat ramp. This is actually where big wave surfers head out on their jet skis to tackle the monster waves at Jaws, just down the coast.
I have been hearing reports of good scuba diving here so we headed out into the relative unknown. We were greeted with some new fish species, a lot of turtles hiding out in all the caves, a white tip reef shark, and some of the best topography on the island. Big boulders, caves, swim throughs, and deep underwater ravines hid countless photos opportunities.

The caves held lots of cool critters including pipefish, lobsters, and white tip reef sharks.

A huge titan scorpionfish tries to figure out if I see him or not. A few minutes later I come across this one laying vertically on the side of the reef with Heidi visible in the background.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where I work

Every day I work as a naturalist on the Pacific Whale Foundation boats we begin the trip by heading out to a submerged volcanic tuft cone called Molokini. It is set in about 300ft of crystal clear offshore Hawaiian water. The inside of the half moon crater is well protected from waves and swell which makes it a great place to take snorkelers. On our more advanced Wild Side trip we get to sometimes take snorkelers to the edges of the crater, where the coral studded wall drops off farther than our eyes can see, even with 120ft visibility.
Today while checking on the drop off I see this white tip reef shark heading over the edge, towards the deep blue. I followed him into the swirling current off the dropoff for as long as I could until he finally disappeared into the blue. White tips are pretty harmless and are the most commonly seen sharks on our reefs here in Maui. I have only seen two other kinds of sharks although later in the trip I did see a mysterious 10+ft shark off the boat....that would not be a white tip.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Juliette's Visit

Heidi and I were honored with another wonderful guest out here in Maui. Juliette, an old sailing mate of Heidi's splurged on a relaxing Hawaiian vacation after completing her bar exam. I was pretty stoked when she walked in with Newcastle beer and cinnamon rolls, apparently Heidi had told her all of my soft spots.
Juliette came out on a couple of our Pacific Whale Foundation trips, snorkeled in the crystal clear waters of Molokini, tackled the road to Hana with Heidi, and hiked to some pretty cool spots like this waterfall called Twin Falls in the pictures above. And it looked like she went home sporting a pretty wicket tan as well.
Thanks for being a great house guest Juliette! Hope you had a blast.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Captain Dai Mar

Finally, after 720 days of boating experience ranging from tiny motorboats for wakeboarding to a huge 156ft tallship, I am now a fully fledged captain. There are different limitations on captain licenses and mine is good for any vessel up to 100 gross tons.
I wanted to say thank you to all of you that helped me with different parts of my application. Ed, Mildred, and Special, Kirk, Jim, El Jeffe, Snark, Robyn, Heidi, Barber, and Dr. Miller. And a great big thank you to my mom for supporting this idea when it was still just an idea.

Hopefully this will open up doors for even bigger adventures!

-Dai Mar

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Maui's Unexplored Reefs

It is pretty amazing that I have such world class diving and marine life right in my backyard. And even more amazing that so many people that live here don't take advantage of it or even know about it. That won't be the case with me. Since Heidi and I have all our own scuba gear from out CIMI days all we need to do is go to our local dive shop, Maui Dreams, and pick up a couple of four dollar tanks. We did just that last weekend and went on two very cool dives.

Dive number 1 was my first at Ulua Beach. Its a popular tourist and snorkeling beach but when we went there was no one around...because we went at night! It was Heidi's first night dive, although she did get a taste of diving in the dark when we dove into the cenotes (underground freshwater caves) in the Yucatan. We saw lots of moray eels including a zebra moray eating a small slate pencil sea urchin, shrimp everywhere, a white stripe flatworm, and a big conger eel. The pictures didn't turn out too amazing, it looks like I might have to get a strobe to really take pictures with my camera at night.

Dive number 2 was a morning 'explore a new place' dive. We researched a place called Jody's Backyard that some of the scuba boats go to and it sounded promising so we drove until we thought we were close and headed through the beach break to find the site. We snorkeled on the surface until the reef gave way to sand around 40' and then descended. I think this place should be called the nursery for the amount of baby fish we encountered. More moray eels, fuchsia flatworms, oval butterflyfish like the one in the picture, and even a small hawaiian green sea turtle added to the already beautiful reef here.