Friday, September 23, 2011

I See Red

Well what do I do after two weeks of diving? Go dive some more! Headed out to one of our "secret spots" and did a few drops to target our favorite reef fish! Mu, Uku, and Goatfish!

We were powered with "Kona Red" antioxidant superjuice so after a while all we saw was red. Red Sea Trip drinking Kona Red diving for Red Goatfish. Love it! Steamed fish tonight:)

Monday, September 19, 2011

NWHI day 18-Final Day

Our final day here in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands has come to and end. We had one more day of diving so we made the most of it till our hands wrinkled, mouth watered, and legs could not kick anymore. We started off in the deep watching our scuba divers and made a few 100 ft drops.
Then we went off to visit another shipwreck, this one with close ties to the story of Moby Dick. The same captain that was on the boat of the Moby Dick story later captained this other boat which sank here. Talk about hard luck. I heard he later gave up whaling/sea faring and became a security guard. The ocean was full of artifacts which was cool to video/photo.
Our dinner was complete with cupcakes and good food and camaraderie.
The crew played a few songs so I decided to capture it on film. Here is our make shift studio with dive lights and all.

It' s been an epic journey and one I will never forget. Life on the sea is what I've dreamed of and the ocean is my playground. Strangers are now friends, work is now play, dreams have become reality! As we set our bow to the east, we head back to our home and know that we have become better stewards of the sea.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NWHI day 17-Gardner Go Pro

We arrived back at Gardner Reef at 0700 and did our routine breakfast at 7 am, safety briefing at 7:30 am, and dive at 8:00 am. We wanted to check a few pinnacles but couldn't find the high spot so it turned into a long boat ride of 2 hours. We headed back to the rock and jumped in to play around with cameras.
I am usually behind the camera so the only way I could get a shot of me was to hold two cameras. One in the right, one in the left. It was fun playing around with my cameras as the divers did their thing.
Check out this wall of nenue, so thick you couldn't see through until the big ulua would pass by.

Hawaii News Now cameraman Oscar Valuenzula was also on board to document a series so he did some interviews with us and our boat man Kevin about our experience. We are heading for our last dive tomorrow in the monument and then make our way home. As our experience comes to and end we are still summarizing our opinions to what we have learned on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NWHI day 16- Transit Day

Today we are transiting back to Gardner Reef so another day to play catch up, check email, download pictures, take topside interviews, and maybe catch a matinee movie? Every day after our dive we need to get picked up from the mother ship lifting the little "Rubber Ducky" (name of our boat) up to the nest.
I think I've seen enough Uluas for a lifetime. I don't think I can spear one after swimming with them. "Fish are friends"!
The boat crew has opened up their hearts with sunset jam sessions. One of the boat men, Jason Kehn is always game to represent and lift the spirits of the group of divers with some of his tunes.

The sunsets are nice and the stars are even brighter. The Milky way is clear as can be. last night a bunch of divers stayed up late painting under the stars. Tomorrow we dive again all day so got get busy with my "to do" list.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NWHI day 15-Lisianski Wreck

Another day was spent around Lisianski atoll. This is one of two islands in the chain of the Northwest Hawaiian islands. It's about a mile long and a guy name Mr. Lisianski found this island I think in the 1800's. He run aground with his 200 ft ship and had to offload canons to lighten the ship so we went looking for them but no luck.
Lots of birds are here along with seals, and turtles. We got to see them cruzing on shore and one seal came by to say hello!

We did manage to find a shipwreck which was cool. Did a few shots/video, then went out to visit the shark taggers who were 10 miles away but they had no luck. So headed in and ate crab legs and chili for dinner. Sorry no photos taken of the food since I was hungry.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

NWHI day 14-Lisianski Go Pro

Life on the ship is awesome! You just go with the flow and you get a automatic rocker to put you to sleep. I got some of the best fish footage ever so wanted to play around today with my go pro camera to take some unique shots. Here I am trying to be creative without going man overboard.
I made this drop only to find out I had company following me again. There were a number of Ulua around 100 lbs but mostly 40-50 lbs. Here we don't look for fish, the fish find you. It feels like you are always being watched by these guardians of the sea. On this drop the Ulua tried to eat my go pro. Sorry, we don't have good internet here so I cannot upload any video. bummers..

The day ended with another good meal and discussion about tomorrow's dive in the dry lab. Dr. Randy Kosaki laid out the game plan for tomorrow and everyone is good to go! The sunset is now on our stern so now everyone is bummed because we are making our way back.

NWHI day 13-Uku mania

Each evening some of the guys hang out on deck to see the sunset and watch the moonrise. The full moon is huge and stars are bright so it makes for a spectacular view.
Today our plan was to follow Dr. Carl Meyer around with some of his researchers as they put tags into sharks and uluas. It was cool to see and I got in the water to get the water shot also. We saw one tiger but it got tangled up and got away.

We headed in and decided to do a blind drop and we were pleasantly surprised to see a few ulua and a few ukus. Then like a parade more ukus came to join us. I felt like Forest Gump running and having more runners joining me. 10 more came, then 20, then 50, then 100 ukus followed. I made a drop and they all circled around. It was the coolest ever and probably never see this again in my life. This picture doesn't do justice to what I saw. I wish I had a panoramic camera but better yet, got it on video!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NWHI-day 12 Pearl Hermes Atoll

Another full day diving, this time at Pearl and Hermes Atoll. The visibility was the clearest so far with over 150 ft vis. Our plan was to visit one of the shipwreck sites that named this atoll. The wreck was located in 15 ft of water and parts of the ship was scattered all over. Here I am on one of the two anchors remaining.
Dr. Randy Kosaki also joined us and he explored parts of the wreck as well. Randy is the Chief scientist on board and a excellent free diver. He enjoys the water and fishing/diving is in his blood. As usual Uluas escorted us everywhere we went as if they were guardians of this atoll, showing us the way.

Archeologist, Kelly Gleason gave us the tour and description of each of the artifacts of the wreck. This here was a canon on board that ship. I shot over 1800 photos today with over 23 gigs so gotta go download my photos. We have another day here so can't wait to see more.

Monday, September 12, 2011

NWHI-day 11 Transit Photos

Today we are transiting to Pearl and Hermes Atoll all day so got a good rest and recovering from the past days of diving. This will give me time to catch up and let my legs recover from all the swimming. We got to see all kinds of species and even a few lobsters. I can't believe how tame these fish are here.
One of our fellow diver and UH student Keo Lopes was hanging out with us the other day observing our filming so I was able to snap a few shots of him enjoying the scenery.
You can feel their curiosity of a stranger in their neighborhood and often sense the reverse rolls of being the prey instead of the predator. These Ulua will swim up to you, and like Mike Tyson in the ring they will stare you down, circle you, and dance around you till you are out of air and need to ascend to the surface.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NWHI-day 10 Maro Reef

This morning we arrived at Maro reef and the weather was little rougher but who cares! Let's dive! There is no island here just underwater reef spider web system layout which is around 10 miles wide. We dove this spot and saw loads of knife jaws, the most I've ever seen anywhere. Then a huge school of omilu swam by then a bunch of big Uluas. We had fun with the Uluas and every time the boat came near the uluas came too! We would have our boat man rev the engine and all the uluas showed up every time.
After the dive we decided to see what the scuba guys were doing so we dropped in. They were surprised to see us of course 65 feet below. Here Kimi (right) dropped and surprised them.

After that we were able to get some shark footage. These are a dozen or so 5-6 ft sharks checking us out. I haven't seen anything over 8 ft but I'm sure they see us. We didn't eat lunch again but did have a few pumpkin seeds between spots to keep us going while staying fully hydrated. We try and stay in the water as much as possible until our fingers and toes gets all wrinkled. Tomorrow we transit to Pearl and Hermes Atoll and I hear that is amazing! Stay tuned..

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NWHI-day 9 Gardner Atoll

What a day! We arrived at Gardner atoll at 0800 and it was our first full day in the water. These are the last islands protruding above the water and from this point it's all underwater. We did a few laps around the islands and we saw lots of fish!
Huge schools of nenue, opelu, omilus, knife jaws, mu's, and everything else was here. It was so cool to see so many tame uluas!

There some in the 80-100 lb range with many in the 40-60 lb range just swarming us. We saw some sharks, seals, and rays also. We were so happy to see fish we decided to skip lunch and dive all day till 1600 (4 pm). Can't wait for tomorrow!

NWHI-day 8 Ulua sighting

We arrived at french frigate shoals on schedule and everyone was very excited to say the least to get in the water. So we did more safety drills and I got to learn how to administer oxygen which was very good. At 1pm we deployed the first boat and we headed out to this reef called rapture reef. All the rest of the scuba divers were there doing their studies and we asked them how it was. The water was dirty so we did a few drops and moved to a small rock island, called La Parus. It looked nice and we saw fish:)

There were two big uluas came in to check me out and hung around for about 5 minutes before getting bored of me filming it. Saw some kawakawa in 20 ft of water and some big mu's that we could have 3 pronged. I downloaded some go pro video but didn't have time to download my good stuff yet. stay tuned! tomorrows a full day! Good night.zzzzz

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NWHI-day 7 Sail away

Well after a few days at home wishing I was on the boat, we got the ok to sail back. It's going to be another 50 hours of sailing till we return where we left so decided to get some work done topside. We interviewed Hawaii's Shark expert, Dr. Carl Meyer who is one of the key scientist on board. He shared about his research and tips on how we as divers can deal with aggressive sharks.

Then the party moved to the bow of the boat where a bunch of the crew started singing ship sailer songs. With the beautiful sunset and sheet glass water, everyone is very excited for tomorrow. We hope to get in the water in the afternoon and see some underwater action. Gotta go tune up my gear and go to bed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

NWHI-day 6 Wii go

As we make our way back to port there is not much we can do but hope and pray for the best for a quick turn-a-round. So what else is there to do but make the most of it. Should we watch video? Play cards? Read a book? Mrs. Parker (assistant chef) suggest we play "Wii game". So that's whats happening now! The scientist, crew, and divers are taking turns on this game called Wii. Everyone is having fun and it's lighting up the smiles as we make our way home. Videoing this is making me tired already and ready for lunch.

Friday, September 2, 2011

NWHI- day 5 "Diver Down"

We had a diver down yesterday but luckily he got back up from a scuba accident. But because we are on board a NOAA ship the proper protocols must me made and unfortunately we have to make a u-turn and head home. Our group handled the incident perfectly and all those safety drills came in handy this time.

So we are steaming home at the moment to take care of this issue but hope to back out shortly, I hope! ETA is tomorrow afternoon.

NWHI day 4- Tern Island

Today was our plan was to visit Tern Island, one of the two Islands we were scheduled to see. Tern Island is situated in the French Frigate Shoals, the largest atoll in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

There are 18 species of birds found here and today we got to see them. They are so curious and interested in us that they even pooped on my camera bag. I got some of the best bird photos ever and even got to see some monk seals catching tan. A couple divers jumped in the shallow water to snorkel and saw big uku in 5 ft of water. I am anxious to jump in the water!