Tag: HiloHawaii

Waterfall Wednesday: Celebrating International Waterfall Day

Waterfall at Gooseberry Falls

So today is International Waterfall Day, and the most interesting fact about the ‘day’–is that it was actually ‘created’ last year (2020) in the midst of the pandemic by a couple from Rochester New York, who love to check out waterfalls on trips and they don’t care if a hike is required or not.

So there are no natural waterfalls within Stillwater (I don’t count the water that rushes over the back end of Boomer Lake after heavy rains as a waterfall), but there are several within the state–I just haven’t been to any of them.

All the waterfalls I’ve seen have been on vacation–either to Hawaii:

Rainbow Falls

This waterfall is on the Wailuku River in the Wailuku River State Park on the island of Hawaii, located within Hilo.

I both walked here on my own from my hotel, plus joined a group nature tour of the area as well.

In addition to the ‘normal’ waterfalls–there were plenty of ‘smaller ones as well around Hilo:

Mini waterfall seen within the park
Another waterfall within the park

I’m sure that there are more waterfalls on the island of Hawaii, but since I was staying ‘local’ to Hilo–these were the only ones I saw.

One thing I love about waterfalls is the ‘mystery’ they can invoke–I always wonder is there a door to another ‘world’ lurking behind the falls, or the door to a ‘treasure’ room? Maybe it’s protecting a hibernating dragon………

In terms of the waterfalls I’ve seen in Northern Minnesota–they always depend on the time of year visiting and the amount of rain/snow that has come down and/or melted to feed the rivers.

Another view of Gooseberry Falls

One favorite park in northern Minnesota is Gooseberry Falls along the north shore of Lake Superior.

While there are waterfalls, they also feed into little pools that everyone shows up to swim or sit in–but watch out for the leeches.

Waterfall on Temperance River

Other rivers also have waterfalls along them–you just usually have to hike to find them.

Another view of the river

Another river, another waterfall, another view

So as you can tell–I like taking outdoor, nature photographs. I could spend a day at each park taking probably a hundred pictures and while people would say that most are duplicates–I can probably point out the minute differences between them.

There are numerous waterfalls both within the US (most national parks have a river going through them–and therefore possibly a waterfall, but Yosmite National Park is one that has some waterfalls I would like to see), and abroad.

The other waterfalls include: Niagara Falls (between New York & Canada)–I know it’s a ‘standard’ vacation spot–but I’d be going strictly for the pictures; Victoria Falls (Zambia), Angel Falls (Venezuela), Kursunlu Falls (Turkey), Ban Gioc Waterfall (Vietnam), and if I’m up to the hike–Sutherlands Fall in New Zealand.

Have you been to any of those falls? Also–where is your favorite waterfall located?

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Reflecting on World’s Ocean Day: Creatures seen in the wild

Oceans cover approximately 70% of the earth’s surface (with the five ocean basins being the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic (newest one to be recognized)).

Aside from covering majority of the surface of the earth, they also produce ~50% of our oxygen (cyanobacteria and plankton), absorb ~30% of the carbon dioxide produced, and serve as both the main source of protein for over a seventh of the world’s population (over 1 billion people), and also as a source of income–~40 million people are to be employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

But we’ve also depleted 90% of the big fish population, and (through global warming) have destroyed/killed about half the coral reefs (coral reef bleaching occurs when the coral expel the symbiotic cyanobacteria/plankton living within it due to ‘overheating’).

June 8 has been set aside as ‘World’ Ocean Day’ for several years now. Each year there is a theme for the day, and this year the theme is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’. In addition to the launch of ‘A decade of challenges to [reach] the Sustainable Development Goal [#] 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources’ by 2030.

I’ve always been fascinated by the oceans–especially the number of creatures living under the waves. I even contemplated sutdying marine biology in college (either undergrad or grad)–but didn’t have the grades for a full scholarship at any school that offered teh degrees, so I’ve decided that I could always become an ‘amateur marine biologist’.

I’ve been to the ocean(s) only an handful of times throughout my life. I don’t remember the trips to the beach when I was a toddler; therefore the first time I was in the ‘ocean’ was in college on a class trip to Honduras and swimming in the Caribbean Sea.

Since that trip, I’ve been (back) to the Atlantic Ocean (when I was in Boston for my first postdoc), the Pacific Ocean (when I went to Hawaii after passing my qualifying exams in grad school), and the Gulf of Mexico on a family trip years ago.

I’ve managed see some wildlife and get pictures, and they include:

Green Sea Turtle swimming in Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii

Currently the only time I’ve seen a sea turtle in the wild was when I went to Hawaii back in 2009. I stayed on the island of Hawaii, and on Hilo Bay, so I would walk out and see what type of wildlife I could spot. The green sea turtle was present quite a few days, and according to some locals, if I’d gotten up a little earlier I would have also spotted the sting ray as well swimming through the bay.

I also managed to get some picture of some of the smaller marine fish as well on the trip:

Possibly the Moorish Idol swimming in Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii

My little handheld digital camera is waterproof to a certain depth, so once I spotted some fish I tried to stick the camera in and get some pictures (sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t). I would like to go back to Hawaii (and the Caribbean) to snorkel and get some more pictures of life under the waves.

When I was out in Boston, I managed to get a small handful of pictures of various marine life:

Whale watching

I went on several whale watching cruises, and the best pictures actually came from the second trip. I think this was a humpback slightly breaching the surface. I would like to go on another cruise (especially since I have a slightly better camera), as I’ve noticed when the aquarium posts pictures, other wildlife has also been spotted (large fish and even a shark or two).

Moon Jellyfish in the Boston Harbor

Since I also enjoyed walking along the harbor–one afternoon I spotted some jellyfish swimming in the harbor. Luckily I was able to get a couple of decent pictures of them.

Finally, when we were down at South Padre Island, Texas years ago I managed to get a couple pictures of various invertebrates in the bay:

Nautilus in the bay

One was a semi-close up of a young nautilus (a very ancient mollusk family–basically considered ‘living fossils’).

Nautilus and other hermit crabs in the bay

Here is a zoomed out picture showing the nautilus and other hermit crabs in the bay that evening.

I would love to get back to the ocean and snorkel (having either gotten contact lens and a good snorkel mask or just a good snorkel mask that could fit over my glasses–since I’m ‘blind’ as a bat without them), but also see other wildlife (from a good safe distance–so a cruise or boat ride) such as orcas, dolphins, or even a shark or two.

What marine animal(s) have you spotted in the wild?

Reference for world ocean day: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ocean-day

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The two ‘stocky’ heron (green & black-crowned) pages are live

So, two more bird pages are now live in the birding section of the blog (birds, birds, and birds).

I’m slowly making my way through the other family members of the heron, egret, and bittern family (Ardeidae) that I have taken pictures of in the wild.

The two pages that I’ve posted today are of the ‘stockier’ herons: the green heron and the black-crowned night heron.

I managed to get several pictures of the green heron last summer at Boomer Lake, and I was happy with how I managed to progress from just getting a partial picture of a green heron to actually getting a picture of one in flight during a very foggy morning.

Green heron in flight on a very foggy morning at Boomer Lake.

I haven’t seen a night heron since my trip to Hawaii back in 2009; but in all honesty, I had no idea that they migrated through Oklahoma. I think it would be super cool to spot one within the lower forty-eight states–though that may mean being in a slightly more tropical part (such as California, Florida, or along the Texas coast) where they are around all year.

Young black-crowned night heron peaking through the coconut fronds

The other ‘stocky’ members that I would like to get a picture of are the yellow-crowned night heron (which is mainly found in the eastern part of the US, though it does summer in OK), and the bitterns (both American and Least), but these two birds are even more secretive than the green heron.

Have you gotten a picture of a bittern? If you have–how long did it take to get a good picture?

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Photography Challenge Day 102: Throwback Thursday–Reptiles I saw on the big Island

So I’m in a mood to where I’m looking back at old pictures and trying to decide where and when I’m going to take another solo vacation. I’ve realized that I don’t do it often enough (I don’t mind traveling with friends or family), but there is something about picking a place to go, and then having all the control over what one does while they are there.

Today’s throwback pictures are throwbacks to my trip to Hawaii back in 2009. The theme of the pictures is simple–it’s reptiles.

Green Sea Turtle swimming in Hilo Bay

So one of my favorite animals that I actually got to see in the wild–the sea turtle. Green Sea Turtles are common around the islands (they’re one of five species found in the area). The one I would really love to see in the wild is the leatherback sea turtle–it’s the largest sea turtle (and the fourth heaviest reptile) in the world.

I may have to look into a good snorkel mask that I can fit over my glasses so that if I ever decide to go back and snorkel–I’d be able to see what I’m trying to take pictures of.

Green Anole

The other two smaller reptiles that I saw, were two lizards that kept me company during the day and early evenings when I was in my hotel room.

The first one that I saw was the green anole. This little guy, isn’t native to the islands–but they’ve established themselves quite nicely. They were originally brought over to sell in pet stores, but then they either escaped or were let loose. After awhile they managed to establish themselves on the islands.

Gold dust day gecko

The other lizard that I saw was much more colorful. I knew that it was a gecko due to the toes, but I wasn’t certain at the time of the species. This guy stands out brilliantly due to being a day gecko. These geckos are native to Madagascar and other islands off the east coast of Africa. Therefore since they’re out during the day–they need to be able to blend in with the vegetation, hence the bright green coloring. While it is hard to see in this picture–they also have a vivid blue ring around their eyes.

Top view of a gold dust day gecko

You can see a little bit of the blue around the eyes from the top. You can also see all the “gold” dusting on the back of the gecko as well. While the presence of either lizard is a double edge sword. They can be considered somewhat beneficial–they eat obnoxious insects, but at the same time they could be driving undiscovered insects and small invertebrates extinct as well.

I would like to go back to the islands one of these years, and try to see what other wildlife I can get pictures of: there are four other sea turtles in the waters surrounding the islands, whales, rays, fish, birds, and flowers. That will be the next goal–more wildlife pictures from another island (or a different part of the big island).

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Photography Challenge Day 101: Waterfall Wednesday.

So today’s pictures are for #waterfallwednesday. Also I was feeling slightly nostalgic and wanted to look back on my first big solo trip that I took in 2009. One of the places that I visited within Hilo, was the Wailuku River State Park, which had a nice waterfall.

Rainbow Falls

I actually went to the this particular state park twice–once on my own, and then as part of a group tour.

The waterfall was nice–not gushing over, but it had been awhile since they had any rain, so things were drying up a little. I would have loved to see the rainbow that forms in the morning–but my hotel wasn’t close to the falls, and it wasn’t open that early anyway.

Another waterfall

I wished that I had seen these waterfalls when the water was flowing nice and fast over them–to where you would be barely able to make out the caves below them. Even though they were “small” waterfalls–at least there was enough water flowing over them to be waterfalls.

One thing I would like to do–travel and see how many different pictures of different waterfalls I could capture. I’ve gotten several from different state parks in northern Minnesota. They’re a thing of beauty when they’re flowing and a thing of wonder when there isn’t much water flowing and you can see under the falls.

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Fishy Friday and Flashback Friday in one: the Moorish idol or the black and white butterfly fish. Photography challenge Day 75

Today’s photograph is also another flashback Friday photo for my trip to Hawaii. One of the things I tried to do on my trip was sit near the water in areas where I could observe fish and other aquatic life. I then tried to zoom in with my camera to get pictures (this was all before I got a digital camera that I could then actually put in the water). So some of the photos came out nice and crisp, and other (like this one) had more of abstract look to them.

It’s either the Moorish idol or a black and white butterflyfish

I thought that the fish in the photo is the Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)—or a member of the butterfly fishes that also closely resembles it—hard to totally tell from the picture. Anyway—the Moorish idol is a fish that has a wide distribution through the tropical and subtropical waters, especially around reefs and lagoons. But know I think that it is the black and white butterflyfish; these fish are also found throughout the tropical and subtropical waters around reefs.

The diet of the butterfly fish varies depending on the species—some eat coral polyps and sea anemones, while others are more omnivorous (which makes them easier to care for in salt water aquariums).

The way the fish mature is unique as well—butterfly fish release their eggs, which float on the currents with plankton until hatching. Then as they mature, the young go through a stage where they are covered in large, bony plates that are shed when they mature.

The Moorish idol is a very difficult fish to try to keep in captivity—mainly due to its diet (it feasts on sponges, coral polyps, tunicates, and various other invertebrates) and the fact that they require very large tanks as well. So that is why butterflyfishes (especially the black and white) are sometimes called the Moorish idol replacements.

I would like to go back to Hawaii and try my hand again at getting pictures of various fish under water, now that I do have a camera that I can stick underwater (at least a few feet).

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorish_idol

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterflyfish

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Photography Challenge Day 61: Fishy Friday and Flashback Friday in one: The Unicorn Fish swimming in the aquarium at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Hilo, Hawaii

So today’s FishyFriday post is the “unicorn fish” and also a Flashback Friday post to my one trip to Hawaii (namely the big island).

Unicorn Fish swimming in the aquarium at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center

It has been almost ten years since I went to Hawaii (I went in December 2009 to celebrate having passed my dissertation proposal exam—which meant I was basically one presentation/paper away from getting my PhD). I managed to pack quite a bit of sightseeing of the large island in during that time—especially seeing the Volcano National Park twice.

I spent quite a bit of time walking in Hilo, and one of the stops was the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, which focuses on the native coral reefs and fish around Hawaii. Within the Discovery Center is a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium with numerous different fish.

One of those fish is the “unicorn fish”. There are twenty species, and they are found in the Indo-Pacific region of the oceans. They get their name from the long spike that is protruding from the forehead.

These fish are herbivores feeding on algae (though they can also be opportunistic feeders and eat other small invertebrates that they come across as well), and travel in groups (called schools).

One of the things I would like to do is get back to Hawaii for another visit. There are other areas of the Big Island I would like to see, and I would to see how Mother Nature changed the landscape of the Volcano National Park as well.

References:

https://thisfish.info/fishery/species/unicornfish/

https://www.papahanaumokuakea.gov/education/center.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naso_(genus)

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