Fish of Hawaii: ‘Aweoweo

15 08 2009

More commonly referred to as Hawaiian Bigeye, this native fish is laterally compressed and averages 10-12 inches long. Found at depths of 20-100 feet most commonly in caves in the day time and feeding up in the water column at night.

It feeds on zooplankton such as larval fish, crabs, and other crustacean larvae.


Plants Native to Hawaii: Koali’awa

25 07 2009

Beach Morning Glory

Beach Morning Glory

This vine, commonly known as Beach Morning Glory, has silvery green heart-shaped leaves that are four to five inches long. The tubular flowers that are up to three inches in diameter are a bluish violet in the morning and turn to a deep pink tone and close in the evening.

It is reputed to have great medicinal value and is found on the edge of sandy beaches.

Snowflake Moray: Puhi Kapa in Hawaiian

15 06 2009

The Snowflake Moray, Echidna nebulosa known as Puhi Kapa in Hawaiian, is a tough eel to spot in that it blends in so well with its surroundings.

This small moray gets to lengths of 36 inches in the wild and swims more often in the open during the day than other eels.

It is a carnivore accustomed to eating krill, shrimp, silversides and octopus. Watch carefully when you are snorkeling and you may spot on of these nestled beneath a rock or near sandy surroundings.

Birds of Hawaii: Koa’e Kea

8 06 2009
Koae kea photo by Mila Zinkova

Koa'e kea photo by Mila Zinkova

The Koa’e Kea also called the White-tailed Tropicbird is often seen soaring at Hawaii’s Volcanic National Park. It nests on mountainous islands in the tropical Pacific and is 23-32″ with tail feathers and a wingspac on 35-38″. It has a graceful flapping flight with frequent gliding and feeds by plunging into the water for fish. Their call is a rasping scream that is harsh and distinctive.

Phaethon lepturus dorotheae

Phaethon lepturus dorotheae

Breeding extends from March until October. They breed on tropical islands laying a single egg directly onto the ground, crevice, or a cliff ledge.

Its feathers were highly prized in Hawaiian featherwork.

Mauna Kea

17 05 2009
Mauna Kea with snow making its summit more spectacular against the blue sky

Mauna Kea with snow making its summit more spectacular against the blue sky

Mauna Kea, meaning white mountain in Hawaiian, because of the snow fall that occurs above 11,000 feet between November and March. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 2460 BC. It sits 13,796 feet above sea level and is the highest peak in the Hawaiian Islands. It is also considered the world’s highest island peak and if measured from the sea floor the highest spot on Earth. It makes up about 23% of the Big Island of Hawaii.

The summit has been home to star gazers since ancient times. It is considered one of the earth’s top observation points because it is above 40% of Earth’s atmosphere and 90% of the water vapor. This allows for exceptionally clear viewing of the night sky and is therefore a wildly popular destination for the astronomically inclined from all over the world.

Birds of old Hawaii: Laysan Duck

24 02 2009

The Laysan Duck (Anas laysanensis), also known as the Laysan Teal

Anas laysanensis

The Laysan Duck resided in the Hawaiian archipelago but in the past two hundred years has found its range greatly diminished. At the current time the Laysan Duck can only be found on the 900-acre Laysan Island that is under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grouped among the Dabbling ducks such as the Mallard, the Laysan Duck prefers land habitats to aquatic and aerial habitats. Studies of DNA in duck bones throughout the Hawaiian Islands have shown that the Laysan Duck’s range once included the entire Hawaiian Archipelago before the mass extinctions that occurred in that region after Polynesian colonization between 400 and 600 AD.

Average weights for this long-lived duck vary with its age. An individual at age 14 can weigh 98.1 grams while an individual at age 45 can weigh 402.0 grams.

There is little difference between the plumages of males and females. Both are dull, dark brown with distinctive white eye rings and white feathering on head and neck. The main difference lies with bill coloring: the male bill is yellowish green with black spotting, while the female bill is dull orange. The Laysan Duck has strong wings that allow it quick take offs but not prolonged flight. The Laysan Duck spends most of its time on its legs dabbling into the water and on land for food.

Birds of Hawaii: Chukar

2 01 2009

The Chukar is a rotund 32-35 cm long bird, with a light brown back, gray breast, and buff belly. The face is white with a black gorget. It has streaked flanks and red legs. When disturbed, it prefers to run rather than fly, but if necessary it flies a short distance on rounded wings.