Masters of Disguise

Today I had a day off from work without my other half; when we are off we are out exploring or working on organizing our photos. The weather this summer has been really windy, strong Trade Winds, which make it hard to be out on the water. Finally though the last two days have been absolutely incredible! So to be off in incredible weather without your partner in crime is a little sad, but… I took the camera and set off for some new images. It is rare to have light to no winds here on Maui, when we do you have to take advantage of the beaches that normally are gusting and non-tolerable to spend time on. I ventured to Slaughterhouse Beach or ‘Mokuleia’, doesn’t the second of the two sounds more appealing? Slaughterhouse Beach got its name from a slaughterhouse that used to be near the beach. The slaughterhouse was built by Honolua Ranch right at the edge of the sea cliffs, but was torn down in the mid-1960s. The beach has since then been known as Slaughterhouse Beach. Its former Hawaiian name, Mokuleia, means, “district (of) abundance.” This name describes this lovely beach much better. There isn’t too much reef here, but where there was reef there was life!Upload from July 23, 2012I started to drift over to a new reef and noticed this black film floating in the water, took me a minute to register that it looked like ink! Ink from an octopus or he’e. I didn’t see her/him at first but did notice a few large goatfish scouting crevices for food, usually large fish can be found escorting he’e. Sure enough there she/he was. He’e are a favorite to photograph, they aren’t easy because usually as soon as you spot one they dart and hide, not this one! I was so surprised that she/he remained in view for so long! What caught my eye about this he’e was how large it was and the texture of its skin. These invertebrates are so curious about their surroundings and are so intelligent. Where I used to work at the Ocean Institute we had a female octopus the enitre three years I was employed there, the aquarists would have to do enrichment activities to keep her engaged and not bored, because when octopus become bored they get into trouble!! Example! Ours would climb out at night and crawl into other aquariums to eat! So they had to put astroturf on the cieling of her tank! They are so smart and so rewarding to take pictures of.Upload from July 23, 2012

Upload from July 23, 2012I pursued marine biology primarily for the large mega fauna, like whales and dolphins, but as I started to expand my knowledge and experiences I began to fall in love with all walks of life in the ocean! I still am partial to those big guys but my heart will always be with the sea turtles. Even though we have hundreds of turtle pictures, I cannot help but to snap more. Every turtle we encounter is different and has a different story. This one today was covered in algae, I wanted to direct this little guy to the nearest cleaning station because the fish would go crazy!

When you look at a turtle it is almost as if their whole story is right inside their eyes. Their eyes always seem so dense and so full of life. I wish they could tell us how old they can live and how they stay safe from predators when they are as small as the palm of our hands, or how their ancestors have survived five major species extinctions…turtles are a dinosaur, they are old and I love them!! Upload from July 23, 2012Even this little guy was camouflaged green! Honu or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are actually green on the inside that is where they get their name. It is from all the algae they eat, but as you can see they can also grow algae on their shells and faces.Upload from July 23, 2012The best part of today’s experience was letting a fellow snorkeler know that they were hovering right over this octopus. The gentlemen had no idea that there even was one! I pointed it out and he was thrilled! So much in the ocean goes unnoticed, sometimes I would like to keep it this way but other times you have to share your experiences with other people, for them to appriciate and understand. Hawaii is full of teachable moments, that is why Ocean Allies started, was to share experiences and photos with other nature lovers. I hope you enjoyed the photos from today!! Mahalo!

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