Looking out over my dive site the other day right off of the town of Hale‘iwa on the north shore of O‘ahu I saw three black iwa birds circling high above. It is fitting that they were flying right above Hale‘iwa as the town’s name means “house of the iwa Bird.”
For the past thousand years native Hawaiians hunted fish using spears in shallow water.
Over the past 15 years it was my goal in Hawai‘i as a marine biologist to identify and shoot video of every fish species that occurs here, so I could do marine life identification movies for our school education program and also to educate tourists.
While scuba diving at 60 feet deep in Kaua‘i I saw my first large tiger shark underwater close up.
There have been a lot of articles lately in the news about coral bleaching and how rising sea temperatures may be to blame. It is easy to attach a cause to the decline of our coral reefs on earth but the sea is very complex and what kills corals in Australia or Indonesia may not be killing corals in Hawai‘i.
There is a very unique coral reef in Lahaina, Maui, that was started by hurricane Iniki back in 1992 when huge 30 foot waves tore apart a pier that was used by the pineapple industry.
Have you ever been out snorkeling or scuba diving and seen a super colorful nudibranch or sea slug slowly crawling across the reef?
Have you ever flown on an airplane between the Hawaiian Islands and seen the sea surface when it looks like there are shiny smooth rivers twisting through the rougher waters?
I was scuba diving one day off our North Shore at about 60 feet deep, when I came upon an amazing sight and shot a video of a bright red cushion sea star.
For the past five years I have been in the National Geographic series every summer called When Sharks Attack. The purpose of the show is to expose possible explanations for why sharks sometimes bite swimmers, surfers, paddlers and divers here in Hawai‘i.
The beautiful colors that highlight our shallow water coral reefs here in Kaua‘i are produced in part by photosynthesis within the algae that grows in the coral structure.
In 2015 here in Hawai‘i we had a coral bleaching event that killed a lot of our shallow water corals especially in Maui and Hawaiian Island but on Molokai, Lana‘i, Ni‘ihau, Kaua‘i and parts of O‘ahu the corals remained healthy. This odd pattern of coral deaths in Hawai‘i was unusual and I set out to try and find the reason we lost so much coral but only in certain locations.
We have many species of beautiful butterflyfish here in Kaua‘i but it is a rare find to see a pair of saddleback butterflyfish.
Hanalei Bay is a complex ecosystem due to all of the rain we get along with large surf and a huge wetland area.
For the last five years myself and the Reef Guardians Hawai‘i nonprofit research team have taken over 500 kids in our Reef Camp out to see the beautiful yellow antler corals growing about 100 yards offshore from the boat ramp at Anini Beach.
The movie Jaws was the worst movie ever produced when it came to scaring the public about shark attacks and spreading misinformation about the oceans’ apex predators.
When we are out snorkeling here in Hawai‘i we all see hard stony coral that has different colors. Coral is made up of a hard calcium carbonate structure that is similar to the concrete we build condominiums out of on land. The hard calcium structure protects the soft clear coral polyps from being washed away in the surf much like a house on land protects soft bodied humans from washing away in a storm.
Seeing a large male parrotfish out on the reef is very exciting because they are so colorful with bright blue, green, purple,red and yellow markings. These large male breeders are called “super males” and they usually can be found along with four or five females that have a dull reddish reef color. At one time in their life the large adult males used to be females!