Kona, February 2009: Part Three

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 4:59 pm

On Friday, we headed down south for a few dives with one of Jack’s ‘advanced’ trips.  These are fun trips to sign up for, as you may get to some more difficult or interesting dive sites – and even if you don’t, you’re on a boat with a bunch of other moderately experienced divers, and no classes.

We dropped in first at Driftwood, a site with a large coral ridge running down the slope.  Parallel to the ridge is a pretty roomy lava tube; a swim through it usually starts your dive here.  It’s a good place to look for slipper lobsters, cowries, and other critters that like the dark.

Once you make it back out into daylight, this site is all about the fish.  Jeff actually managed to spot a Flame Angelfish, one of the rare fish that we were told to be on the lookout for here.

There’s lots of whip coral at this dive site – and where there’s whip coral, you can find whip coral gobies!

Whip Coral Gobies:

It’s a nice enough dive – but I was more excited by dive #2, at The Dome.  As the name implies, The Dome has a nifty lava tube structure that includes a large, dome-shaped area big enough for everyone to be floating around in at once. It also tends to be full of neat little critters like the blue dragon nudibranch.

Blue Dragon Nudibranch:

No major excitement today – in between dives we motored around in search of dolphins, but none were in the mood to play.  I think we’re kind of spoiled after a few years of having big animal encounters in between dives, because we found this pretty disappointing!

There was one bit of good news, though: after we raved to the dive shop about the awesomness of their Pelagic Magic dive, they set up another one for us Sunday night!  They usually only schedule one a week, but Matthew was available and there were a couple other crew guys who were happy to go.  We were both glad to have another chance to try to photograph all those little critters!

Saturday we did the normal Jack’s boat dive, which meant a slightly larger crowd and slightly less exotic dive sites.  On the bright side, our divemaster was Elaine, who we know from the Kona Classic.   Not to put down any of Jack’s other fabulous DMs, but Elaine remains our favorite!

This is what we call “diver hair:”

Dive #1 was at Pyramid Pinnacles.  I found lots of yellowtail coris and rockmover wrasses to chase after with the video camera, and there were a few photogenic lava tubes as well.

Looking through a lava tube:

The highlight here was when Jeff spotted some Heller’s Barracuda up in the shallows.

Heller’s Barracuda:

No luck in between dives today, either – it was just too windy and choppy to go out to sea in search of whales.

But our second dive was back at our old favorite: Eel Cove.  And today, the raccoon butterflyfish were there!  This pretty much made my day, if not my trip.  Ever since our first Kona Classic, when I first saw these guys in action, I’ve been dying to have another crack at it.

Raccoon Butterflyfish clip – 24 seconds, 10 MB

We also found a grumpy-looking devil scorpionfish.  I think I spotted this one while he was swimming – the backs of their fins are bright red and black.  But once they stop moving, they blend into the coral rubble pretty well!

Devil Scorpionfish:

Saturday night, we treated ourselves to dinner at the Royal Kona Resort, where we’ve stayed on most of our visits.  We did the tacky tourist thing and made the waiter photograph us with our tropical drinks:


Then it was off to bed, to get a full night’s sleep before our last day of diving…

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