Dec 18, 2012

Introducing a few of our neighbors ...

This morning's perfect ocean conditions ~ no wind, clear sun-lit water ~ compelled me to abandon all plans for a day of holiday tasks.  I shoved the Christmas cards back in the drawer, rushed through chores and hurriedly tossed off a "See you later, I'm going snorkeling!" to Greg before setting out to reacquaint myself with our aquatic neighborhood.  Poor Greg ... his water activity ban remains in effect until stitches come out.  More about that soon.

Despite not having a beach entry to the ocean, the House of Good Living  offers access to our three reefs via a set of (often slippery) stairs.  Best mode of entry is to sit down at the bottom of the steps, slip on aqua slippers or fins, position snorkel firmly on face and then just float away.  And that's what I did this morning, literally and figuratively.

Right away there were all sorts of finny creatures busily getting on with whatever it takes to be a happy Hawaiian reef fish. All the regulars were darting about: Humu humu, Moorish Idols, goat fish ... each doing a good job of ignoring me while I made like a benevolent voyeur overhead.  After taking in the sights along both sides of the reef closest to shore, I floated out to the middle reef and immediately came upon the crankiest resident.  Imagine an underwater Clint Eastwood who's incessantly yelling the eel-ish version of "Get off my lawn!" to all passers-by.  Got that image in your mind?  Does it look anything like this?:
Our local reef eel Echidna nebulosa or "Puhi kapa" in Hawaiian has significant antisocial tendencies; it's the kind of creature that makes havoc among all kind of fish and thus lives alone in his solitary set of coral.  King Kamehameha was sometimes called Puhi kapa because he was "victorious over all" according to our old copy of "Shore Fishes of Hawaii."

Victorious or not, no one loves a bully so I didn't linger long with old grumpy fins.  A cheery convention of box fish were congregating nearby and I wanted to see what they were up to.  Tossed to and fro by the soft swells, these spotted little guys look about as navigable as VW beetles.  Sure, they may float well but how on earth do they manage to steer that shoebox-shaped body with those fins?
I was floating through schools of sand-snorting goat fish, thinking it was time to head home, when the big Kahuna himself slowly rose from the reef where he'd been catching a nap.  Aloha, Honu!  Our resident green sea turtles can be seen snacking on limu most mornings. Seeing them daily might make such sightings feel commonplace for some folk. Even so,  up close and personal encounters underwater still thrills me. These guys' languid movements and long stares transmit some seriously inherent coolness.
Don't you know it...
here at the House of Good Living
The Dude abides.