Archives for Underwater Photography

Scalloped Hammerhead - Elegance in Motion

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark- Elegance in Motion

A south swell has been running for several days and the wind is blowing briskly out of the north.  It is Friday morning and I am looking forward to scuba diving with the Hammerhead Shark.  The dive site for today is about an hour from Lahaina Harbor across the Pailolo Channel and on the northeastern end of Molokai.  This dive will take about five hours from the time we leave the harbor until our return.

I checked into the Lahaina Divers shop, whom I highly recommend, around 6:50 am. I have been diving with them in Maui for over 10 years.  They have great boats and a skilled and highly professional crew.  Lahaina Divers is the only dive operation that has a regular Hammerhead Shark dive to Molokai.  After checking in, I park my car and then head down to the boat slip.  After all of the divers are aboard and a short safety briefing from the crew we head for Molokai.  A

Large Scalloped Hammerhead

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark – Encounter with 12 foot female

few of the divers on board have done this dive, including myself, many times.  However, for most on board this will be their fist dive on Molokai and the first time with Hammerhead sharks.

The boat heads toward the dive site, staying close to the western shore of Maui, until we are almost directly across from the dive site.  The boat then makes a sharp turn to cross the channel.  The seas are running four to six feet with an occasional swell in excess of eight feet.  Some first timers on the boat are getting a bit nervous.  It takes about 25 to 30 minutes to cross over to Molokai and by that time we have a couple of divers on the boat that are sea sick.  This channel is one of the roughest in the Hawaiian islands.  Its name literally means “crazy fishermen”.  Because if someone was going to go fishing across this channel they must be crazy.

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark - Exploration

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark – Exploration

The captain of the boat gives us a 10 minute warning telling us it is time to put on our gear and get ready to enter the water.  We put on our wet suits, BC’s, and fins while sitting in assigned stations on the boat.  The water is rough so we wait on the crew to help us stand up and move into position at the back of the boat.  But, we don’t enter yet.  We wait for the captain to move the boat into position and give us the signal to enter the water.  The crew tells us “1 minute”, “30 seconds”, “captain divers are ready”, then we wait for the captain.  The back of the boat swings round toward the islet, then the captain yells “dive, dive, dive”.  Our group jumps almost in unison and we are all in the water within 15 seconds.

The surface is choppy and after making sure all divers are OK, we rapidly begin our descent.  The water is light to medium blue for the first thirty to forty feet with rays of sunlight filtering around us.  Then the water begins to slowly darken as we descend on the dive site know as Fish Rain.  The reef is on our right and blue water is to the left.  The bottom slopes gently downward from about 40 feet to around 120 feet.  While I love the reef, I am constantly looking into the blue, looking for a Scalloped Hammerhead Shark.

Fish Rain is located on Mokuhooniki Rock and is one of the most bio-diverse dive sites on the planet.  The density of marine species, the health of the corals and the presence of pelagics make this a must dive. But, again we have come to see the Hammerhead Shark.

Scalloped Hammerhead Close Up

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Close Up

The dive starts out in the lee of the islet which is somewhat protected from the crazy waters of the Pailolo Channel.  While this site can on rare occasion be like glass, it most often has swells of 2 to 4 feet and can grow on occasion to well over 6 feet.  This is not a dive for the novice diver.  This is an advanced dive and anyone thinking about going should carefully consider their level of experience and confidence.

You enter the water quickly from a moving boat a quickly descend to around 50 feet.  After your dive group assembles you will slowly make you way around the Islet in an arc.  The dive is a drift dive and can be one of the most difficult dives you will every make due to the entry into and exit from the water.  Again this dive is not for the novice, but oh what a dive.  I have been on this site dozens and dozens of times yet it never ceases to amaze me.

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Scalloped Hammerhead In Close

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark In Close

The Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is a species of hammerhead shark, and part of the family Sphyrnidae. This shark can be found over continental and insular shelves and in nearby deeper water. It is found in warm temperate and tropical waters, worldwide from 46°N to 36°S. It can be found down to depths over 500 m (1,600 ft), but is most often found above 25 m (82 ft).[10] During the day, they are more often found close to shore, and at night, they hunt further offshore. Adults are found alone, in pairs, or in small schools, while young sharks occur in larger schools.[1] see this Wikipedia article for more detailed information on Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark in Hawaii has been known to reach lengths of up to 13 feet however 6-8 feet is typically the average.  Near Mokuhooniki Rock, the Scalloped Hammerheads tend to be adults of 6 to 8 feet with the occasional shark measuring well over 10 feet.  These sharks can be found from very near the surface to about 130 ft.  We see them very often cruising just off the bottom of the channel between Molokai and Mokuhooniki Rock, where the depths run typically 100 to 130 feet.  We will see them in groups of 1 to 3 but many times you can see groups of 5 to 10 and occasionally many more.  On my best dive here I have just under 50 Scalloped Hammerheads and have been literally surrounded as I am taking photographs.

Observing Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

These are magnificent creatures. It is a wonderful experience to remain absolutely still in the water and observe these sharks as they interact with you.  I have have had many occasions where sharks have swam with me for 10 to 15 minutes.  They are curious and will come in close to you and your group if you will remember a few key things:

  1. Keep your head on a swivel as you dive.  You want to be able to spot the sharks as soon as possible so your behavior does not cause them to move away from you
  2. When you see the sharks and you see they are heading in the general direction of your group slow down immediately and/or stop and observe their behavior
  3. If the sharks are moving away from your group keep swimming toward them and keep looking all around.  There are more than likely other sharks near by.
  4. Stay at 40 to 60 feet when you are looking for the sharks and then drop down to their depth when you see them.  This will conserve air and reduce the danger of nitrogen narcosis
  5. When the sharks are getting close to you stay still and let them swim to you.  I was getting ready for a wonderful encounter with a 12+foot female Scalloped Hammerhead Shark when a person in our dive group start swimming rapidly down towards the shark to get their “go-pro” shot.  The shark simply turned away and the diver probably did not get a good shot and the rest of the dive group was denied the experience of interacting with a large hammerhead.

As I have said before, if not my very favorite, definitely in my top five.  This site has an amazing reef, tremendous bio-diversity, a very healthy reef system, does not see many divers and it has ….. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks.

If you are an advanced diver, this site is definitely for you.  Maholo nui loa and safe diving.

Knob Hill

Knob Hill, Lanai

Knob Hill is an interesting and very nice dive site.  It is fairly shallow about 55 to 60 feet (16 to 18 meters) and teeming with life.  However, it is often not possible to dive on this site due to strong currents .  The dive site is just off the coast of Lanai by the Four Seasons Hotel.  The name comes from a large rock formation near the surface that is supported by four columns.  This is a large dive site on the south side of Lanai that is quite exposed.  I have been diving around Lanai for over 12 years and have been on this site maybe three or four times.

Knob Hill Rating = 3.86 out of 5

  • Visibility – moderate to very good
  • Access – Moderate; boat only and 45 to 50 minutes from Lahaina Harbor
  • Current – moderate strong most of time
  • Depth to 60 ft / 18 m
  • Reef health Hard / Soft Corals – Very Good
  • Marine species variety – Very Good
  • Pelagics / Mammals / Turtles / Rays – moderate to good, typical at least 1 to 3 sightings up close, sometimes many more

The only reason this site is not rated higher, is the current makes it a very difficult dive site to dive 80% of the time.  If the current is mild this is an awesome site.

Knob Hill Overview

Knob Hill Reef, Steven W Smeltzer, Lanai

Knob Hill Reef

Knob Hill has a number of swim throughs and volcanic structures, such as the “table” above that make the site quite interesting.  The marine life on the site is varied and abundant.  You will almost always find large schools of Pennant Butterflyfishes along with a wide variety of other  Butterflyfishes, Dascyllus, Yellow Tangs, Sea Turtles, White-tip Reef Sharks, various eels and much more.  Once the boat is on the mooring at Knob Hill, the dive master make take you on several different routes around this expansive dive site.  The hard coral here is quite healthy due to the current and infrequent visits by divers.  There is a nice swim through / cave where you can frequently find White-tip Reef Sharks.  You can also see quite a few nudibranchs on this site and rare species such as the endemic Yellow-striped Coris and Reticulated Butterflyfish.

Knob Hill, White-tip Reef Shark, Steven W Smeltzer,

White-tip Reef Shark, Profile, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Lanai, Hawaii

There is also a nice swim through / cave on the site where you can many times find White-tip Reef Sharks.  This shark in particular was quite curious and swam with me through the swim through.  He even gave me a nice profile. 🙂

Visit my blog page Hawaiian Dive Site Reviews, to view reviews of other great dives in Hawaii.

Visit my website for other underwater photographs and/or follow me on Twitter.

The pool is open…..

Scuba Diving Molokai can be awesome, especially at Mokuhooniki Rock. The reef here is one of the most interesting that I have dove on anywhere on the planet. The variety of marine species, the isolation and the relatively untouched environment make this a one of a kind location.  But……we all come for the Hammerheads.

scuba diving Molokai

Mokuhooniiki Rock, Molokai

Mokuhooniki Rock or islet is located at 21 07′ 40″N, 156 42’20″W just off the North eastern coast of the island of Molokai.  This dive site, also known as Fish Rain, is one of my top ten scuba diving sites in the world.

Interacting with such a variety of marine life combined with the opportunity to spend time with large pelagic species makes this a special place.  When scuba diving Molokai Mokuhooniki Rock, you  encounter Hammerhead sharks on almost every dive.  You will also see a rich and diverse ecosystem containing large schools of Damsels and Butterflyfish to Dolphins, to Tiger Sharks and much much more.  You will be hard pressed to find other dive sites that have the abundance and variety of marine life in such a pristine condition.  If you are on Maui and you are an advanced diver, you simply must do this dive.

Scuba Diving Molokai – The Adventure

Scuba Diving Molokai (Steven W Smeltzer)

Spinner Dolphins Molokai Hawaii

This site can be adventure diving at its peak.  It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to go from the harbor in Lahaina to Mokuhooniiki Rock.  Crossing the Pailolo (means crazy fishermen) channel alone can bring seasoned divers to their knees.  It can be quite rough.  This is not a beginners dive site.  In fact even if you are an advanced rated diver, you should be extremely comfortable exiting a moving boat and reentering a moving boat in potentially rough and choppy seas.  I have been on this site dozens of times and while it can be like glass, it is extremely rare.  The site can also have 6+ foot waves.  I have seen divers break ribs on their reentry and others become extremely agitated and near panic on the pick up.  I remember one dive in particular where the waves, even in the lee of the rock, were running about 8 to 10 feet.  As the boat came around to pick us up I was literally on the top of one wave looking down at the captain of the boat who was on the top deck of a double deck dive boat.  The boat was some 5 feet or so below me in the trough of a wave.  I was thinking this is going to be a very interesting pickup.

But……what a great scuba diving site.

When scuba diving Molokai at Mokuhooniiki Rock, you enter the dive site typically in the lee of the islet on the right above.  The

Scuba Diving Molokai (Steven W Smeltzer)

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini, Molokai Hawaii, Moku Ho’oniki Rock

crew will let you know about ten minutes before it is time to enter the water.  They will begin lining you up at the back of the boat one at a time.  You will  have your mask and fins on, BC inflated and be holding anything you want to take into the water with you, including cameras.  If you have not entered a dive site from a moving boat before this will a bit of an adventure for you.  Think of it as channeling your inner Navy Seal.  When you are lined up at the back of the boat, the captain will swing the boat around toward the islet and when all divers are ready, the crew will say Divers Ready. They will then begin counting down two minutes, one minute, etc.  Then when the Captain gives his ok the crew will give you a signal “Dive, Dive, Dive”.  Do NOT enter the water before the crew has given you the OK, and said “Dive, Dive, Dive”.  The divers will quickly enter the water one after the other as the boat is moving.  Typically up to 8 divers may enter in 15 to 20 seconds.  You will then meet you dive guide on the surface and all begin your descent together.  You are usually on the surface no more than 30 seconds before beginning your descent.

And what a wonderful descent.  The islet will be on one side and you will see a gradual slope towards the bottom beneath you.  The

Scuba Diving Molokai (Steven W Smeltzer)

Fish Rain, Molokai Hawaii

depth is about 100 to 110 feet in the channel but only about 50 to 60 where you will be dropped off.  The visibility is usually very good allowing you to see 100 to 150+ feet in the distance.  There are fish everywhere.

The dive itself is basically a half-circle around Mokuhooniiki Rock and the boat will pick you up on the other side.  Dive time is usually about 50 minutes give or take depending on depth of the dive and your air consumption.  If you dive Nitrox, this is a great spot to use it as you can get a little more time at depth when looking for the Hammerheads.  I usually hang out to the left of the group as I don’t want to have a lot of other divers close to me when I am trying to get a shot.

The Hammerheads sharks are a bit skittish.  If you or someone in your group swims rapidly towards them, they will simply move away.  The key is to go slow and easy and be patient.  As you start your descent from the boat you will follow the slope down to around 50 feet and then do one of two things.  Either start swimming out into the blue and looking for the sharks, which we do many times on the first dive, or you will begin to swim around the islet.

There can be a bit of current here but usually it is not too bad.  Or if there is a ripping current it is usually going the direction of the dive once you pass the corner of the islet and it simply becomes a drift dive.  When Scuba Diving Molokai, you can see anything from dolphin, to Tiger Sharks (not often), to Greys, to Hammerheads, to a Monk seal.  You may also encounter a variety of rays and there have even been a few rare Humpback Whale sightings while on the dive (December to April).  The abundance of various fishes and eels will blow you away.  There are also many endemic species on this site so be attentive and take your time.

Scuba Diving Molokai (Steven W Smeltzer)

Molokai Pickup

When you surface you will stay with your dive group until the boat comes to get you.  You will need a safety sausage to go on this dive and at least one of you will inflate the sausage at the end of the dive to signal the boat.  If it is rough it is very important to stay as close together as possible while you are waiting to be picked up.  Their could be one or max two other groups in the water, so you may have to wait several minutes to be picked up.  Again be patient.

The boat will come very close to you and throw a line out to the divers.  You have to swim to the line and grab a hold and then begin to slowly move up the line towards the boat.  You will take off your fins while you are holding on the line and have those in one hand to give to one of the crew as they help you aboard.  If you have a camera as I do, then you will give them your camera first to the crew and then take off your fins. Then you will proceed towards the boat and use a ladder to board.  This can be quite intimidating if you have never done something like this, but the crew is exceptionally good at what they do.  Listen to them and do as they say and you will be fine.  Believe me this dive will be worth it.

Scuba Diving Molokai (Steven W Smeltzer)

Maui Flame

After you finish your first dive and complete your surface interval, you will basically repeat the same dive on your second dive.  But there is enough on this dive site to interest you no matter how many times you dive it.

After scuba diving Molokai you get to relax on the boat ride back to Lahaina and enjoy the other adventures that Maui has to offer.

Long may the Fish Rain…..the pool is open

 

 

Scuba Diving Lighthouse

Scuba Diving Lighthouse

Scuba Diving Lighthouse is always a treat.  It is located off the island of Lanai which provides some of the better dive sites in Maui County.  Lighthouse is a great dive site that is not visited often due to the distance from Maui.  I dive this site with Lahaina Divers, my favorite dive shop on Maui, usually on a drift dive charter that runs each Thursday.  Check out Lahaina Divers, dive schedule for more information.

It is about an hour around to this site from Lahaina Harbor and it is usually a nice boat ride, but the channel between Maui and Lanai can be rough so if you are prone to sea sickness, make sure to take Bonine, ginger, use the patch, etc., before you get on the boat.

Scuba Diving Lighthouse

Scuba Diving Lighthouse

Lighthouse Rating: 3.11 out of 5

This scuba diving site gets its name from a structure on shore that resembles a small lighthouse.  The site has a number of large boulders strewn around the bottom and has a wide variety of marine life.  This scuba diving site can get blown out by wind and current and be very cloudy.  However, the boat captain and dive master will check out the conditions prior to getting in the water.  The conditions today were great.  The sea was very flat, the current was quite mild and the visibility was 100+ feet.

Scuba Diving Lighthouse: What You Will See

You can typically see smaller White-tip Reef Sharks, a wide variety of butterfly fishes, Triggerfishes and much more.  Make sure you check in the cracks and crevices where you can find octopus, a wide variety of eels, crabs, shrimps and other small marine life.  The hard corals here are also in good shape as they get a lot of nutrient and not many divers on the site.

Scuba Diving Lighthouse is a treat if you are going to be on the Maui for a few days.  I usually dive on Lanai two or three times during each trip and Lighthouse is often the second dive on Lahiana Divers’ Lanai drift dive.

Scuba Diving Lighthouse

Whitemouth Moray Eel

Check out my website for more underwater photographs on Scuba Diving Lanai and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

The pool is open…

Candy Cane Shrimp off the Sheraton reef on Maui.  I shot this photo on a night dive at about 40 feet.  The image was taken with a Nikon D90 using a Sigma 17-70 macro lens on a Nikon D90 zoomed to 70mm.

Candy Cane Shrimp (Steven Smeltzer)

Candy Cane Shrimp, Maui Hawaii, Sheraton reef

I love night dives.  This is the opportunity to see many marine species that you do not encounter during the day.  It is also a chance to see how the reef both sleeps and hunts.

Moray eels prowling the reef.  Turtles wedged between rocks to sleep. Sharks on the prowl.  It is a wonderful experience.

The Candy Cane Shrimp is a colorful shrimp that inhabits the reef and can provide some very interesting photographs.  I like the way the shrimp’s eyes reflect the reef.  They seem to be somewhat curious and alien.  In fact, the eyes of marine life make very interesting studies and provide great subject matter for photographs.

Check out other marine life photographs on my website.

The pool is open…..

The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association is hosting an exhibit titled Marine / Aquatic Exhibition from April 14 to May 23.  The exhibit includes artwork that reflects a myriad of images and themes in the Marine/Aquatic environment including, Oceanic Scenery, Sea Animals, People at Sea, Marine Vessels and the Marine ecosystem.

I will have several aluminum prints on display including:

Hammerhead-Shark-Molokai

Star of India

Star-of-India-Rigging-373x563

Star of India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predator – Hammerhead shark, Molokai Hawaii

Hammerhead-Shark-Molokai

Predator – Hammerhead Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carthaginian II

Vintage Carthaginian II

Carthaginian II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USS Kittiwake

USS Kittiwake at rest Grand Cayman

USS Kittiwake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manta Ray Trio

Manta-Ray-Trio Kona Hawaii

Manta Ray Trio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association  (SGFAA) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1965 for the purpose of promoting traditional fine art in the community and to provide a venue for member artists to show their work. The association maintains a large group of over 200 members and represents all of Southern California and several states.

The SSGFAA supports awareness and education in the arts from aspiring artists to professionals by providing a venue and platform for members to display their works, providing art classes and art demonstrations, and encouraging growth and exploration in various forms of art to our community.

In addition to my work their will be a number of other artists displaying a variety of photographs, paintings and other work.  I would encourage everyone to go out and support the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association and their ongoing efforts at education and awareness of the arts in southern California.

The venue is at 320 Mission Deive, San Gabriel, CA the next door to the San Gabriel Playhouse and near the historic San Gabriel Mission and provides great ambience for the exhibit.

Come support the local arts community and enjoy historic San Gabriel.

Mahalo

All is quiet as the waves gently lap against the hull.  The wind is blowing lightly and we sit in anticipation, watching and waiting.  We know that they are there, beneath the surface, swimming just out of sight.  We see distant plumes of mist as they surface to breath and we wait. There are muted conversations around the boat as we strain to find the light-blue discoloration on the surface of the water that marks their presence. Or look for their tails as they swim on the surface and then dive or search for that plume of mist as they breath.  They are the gentle giants of the ocean.  Magnificent creatures that captivate the imagination.

Humpback Whale breaching, Megaptera novaeangliae. Maui Hawaii (StevenWSmeltzer.com   (949)290-6367)Suddenly just off the port side of the boat, he comes, a magnificent breach, displaying the raw power and agility of this wonderful creature.  He rises swiftly into the air, spins and lands with a thunderous crash.  The boat rocks from the impact of massive body against the surface of the ocean as everyone on the boat loudly exclaims the absolute joy of the moment.  For a brief period of time we are one, sharing a bond, rejoicing together in the day.  It is pure joy. Joy in the day, pleasure in the ability to rise out of the water, to proclaim to the world that I am here and life is worth living.

Seeing a Humpback whale breach almost gives me chills.  There are many theories on why they breach, but the one I subscribe to is that they like it! You can almost see it in the small calf as he tries to rise out of the water or the might adult as he flies out of the water almost screaming with pleasure.  It is definitely a most joyous moment and one I am inclined to believe that these whales really like to breach.  It is fun!

 

 

 

 

The Humpback Whale is one of the most interesting whales to “watch”.  These giants inhabit many of the worlds oceans.

 

It is that time of year……

Manta Ray Gill Slits

Manta Ray view of gill slits

DEMA 2014 is just around the corner in Las Vegas from Nov. 19 – 22.  The Ocean Artist Society will have a large dedicated space for displaying artwork from various members and Wyland is planning to exhibiting the entire permanent fine art collection featuring many of the 262 current members. It is an amazing collection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works of art that reflect our members’ vision and commitment to the conservation of our ocean.

 

According to organizers, the art show will be the largest, most comprehensive gathering of works from top ocean artists in DEMA history. “The idea behind the Ocean Artist Society began at DEMA,” says renowned artist and conservationist Wyland, who founded the OAS with Guy Harvey and Bob Talbot in 2003. “This showcase at DEMA, sponsored by SCUBAPRO, will put a spotlight on the very best work from the world’s most gifted artists.”

“Gill Rakers- Verge of Extinction” will be one of the photographs on display from the Steven W Smeltzer collection, so if you are in Las Vegas at the DEMA show please take the time to review this amazing collection.

Silent……………Graceful……………Powerful……………

Hammerhead shark, MolokaiMany words can be used to describe the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark.  This apex hunter cruses about coastal warm temperate and tropical seas in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans between 46°N and 36°S from the surface to depths of 1,000 meters.  It may enter estuaries or be found in the open ocean, in large groups in the Galapagos, Malpelo, Cocos and Revillagigedo Islands and within the Gulf of California.  In Hawaii, on the island of Molokai, you can find groups of up to 60 or 70 sharks.  However, at Molokai you are more likely to see solitary individuals or perhaps small groups of 4 to 10 sharks.

In March, I was diving with Lahaina Divers on Molokai and had one of the best shark dives ever, interacting with almost 40 sharks over the course of two dives.  This dive site, off of Moku Ho’oniki rock on Molokai, is one of my favorite dive sites anywhere in the world.  I have made dozens of dives on this site and while I thoroughly recommend it, it is not for the average recreational diver.  While on many occasions this site can be reasonably calm (I have seen it where the surface is almost glass) it is one of the most unpredictable dive sites that I know.  In fact, I have been waiting to get Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)picked up by the dive boat, at this site, when I am literally looking down on the boat (a two decker by the way) from the top of a wave.  The seas here can reach 10 feet in height or more and requires the diver to be experienced,  confident, under control and above all willing to adhere to instructions given by the dive master and boat captain.  If you are a novice diver, do not attempt to do this dive.  I have seen inexperienced divers, break ribs and have extreme difficulty reentering the dive boat.  So again, this is not a dive site recommended for anyone other than an advanced diver that has previous experience exiting and entering a dive boat while it is moving.

However, this is an awesome dive site.  The drop off location is called Fish Rain, and has a depth of 30 to 40 feet at the entry point and as you descend and look up you will think it is literally raining fish.  They are everywhere, the Hawaiian Dascyllus, all kinds of Butterflyfish, Angelfish, Moorish Idols, and many, many more.  Dozens of individuals to large schools of Hawaiian Dascyllus, Dascyllus albisella, Rainbow / Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse, Labroides phthirophagus, Randall, 1958, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)schools of many types of fish inhabit this very unique environment.  The site is to a depth of about 120 feet.  The sharks can be found anywhere from a few feet from the surface to cruising about along the bottom.  The site can have severe current, that can cause the inexperienced diver to rapidly consume their air supply. So again, this site is not for inexperienced divers.

When interacting with any shark, the key is patience.  The Hammerhead shark in particular, is a fairly shy species and if you swim rapidly toward the shark you will more than likely not see much more than a brief glimpse.  I have been on this site several times when an over anxious diver swims rapidly after every shadow they see and the rest of the divers do not see any sharks at all.  However, if you are patient and slow in your approach you may be rewarded with a wonderful encounter.

On this particular dive, we entered at Fish Rain, in the “shadow” of Moku Ho’oniki that provides a fairly calm spot to exit the dive boat.  As we descend I tend to stay on the outside shoulder of the dive master and about 30 to 50 feet from the nearest diver in the group.  I am constantly looking out and down, hunting for the elusive Hammerhead.

In the distance is see several shadows coming in towards me at about 80 feet.  I was hovering around 45 feet and dropped down slowly to “intercept” the group.  As I was waiting for the group to get in range I looked Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini, Molokai Hawaii, Moku Ho'oniki Rock (StevenWSmeltzer.com   (949)290-6367, Steven W SMeltzer)back to my outside shoulder away from the rest of the divers and got a wonderful shot of this solitary shark coming in to check me out.  I can tell this is going to be a wonderful dive.  This particular individual swam with me at a distance of 10 to 15 feet from me for about 2 minutes and then gradually disappeared in the distance.  I move quickly back up to about 50 feet to conserve my bottom time feeling awesome.  We continued to drift with the current, which was really moving at this point, spotting several groups of 3 to 4 individuals and one group of eight sharks.  I about 35 minutes into the dive, I saw another individual at about 100 feet and quickly dropped down to see if I could get some interesting shots.  The black and white Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini, Molokai Hawaii, Moku Ho'oniki Rock (StevenWSmeltzer.com   (949)290-6367, Steven W SMeltzer)image above is of this shark at about 120 feet and while I was descending through about 100 feet.  As I dropped down I kept checking around me and saw that four other individuals had now come fairly close to me from behind.  I was able to get a nice shot of the “school” and when I turned back the other way there were six shots directly in front of me and a couple about 10 feet above me.  Yahoo, what an awesome experience to encounter these marvelous creatures.   I slowly started to ascend, to keep my computer out of deco, and watched as each of these groups faded slowly in the distance.  During our two dives we counted well over 50 individual sights and estimate that we saw at least 35 individuals.  It was an awesome dive and keeps me wanting to go back for more.

The pool is open.

Manta-Ray-Gill-SlitsFollow the attached link to view the Ocean Artist Society’s new video, Reasons to Dance promoting the conservation of Manta Rays.  There is much work to be done to protect these magnificent creatures.  http://www.oceanartistssociety.org/?page_id=249

As an Ocean Artist Society member, this film and ezine are both important and informative.  We can only protect and help manage our resources if we have knowledge and understanding.  Hopefully this film and ezine provide you with both.  Manta Rays Kona Hawaii, Manta birostris, (Walbaum, 1792), Kona Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

The Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, can be found in the world’s major oceans from roughly 30 south latitude to Oceanic Manta Ray Rangeapproximately 40 north latitude.  Though these rays are widely distributed their individual population groups are thought to be relatively small, ranging from a 100 or less to as much as 1,000 individuals and the overall population size is unknown.  The IUCN Red List, designates the Oceanic Manta Ray as Vulnerable due mainly to the significant amount over fishing in many areas.  Manta Rays, command a high value in international trade, mainly due to the use of recent introduction of Manta’s gill rakers into Chinese traditional medicine.  This has led to unsustainable fishing activities in many traditional habitats for these beautiful rays.  The rate of reduction appears to be especially high in some regions with as much as an 80% reduction in certain regions and as much as a 30% decline is suspected globally.  Populations in the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico appear to have been depleted while other populations in Sri Lanka and India are believed to be decreasing.  Manta birostris IUCN Red List

Recent progress has been made with Indonesia in particular creating the world’s largest sanctuary for these wonderful rays, encompassing over 6 million square kilometers.  New Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rules for sharks and manta rays also went into effect in September of 2014 based upon unprecedented cooperation between member countries.  Also, Scuba diving tourism, a growing industry that has demonstrated significant, sustainable economic value compared to the short-term commercial fishing opportunities, offers the opportunities to generate economic benefit while helping to sustain and grow population groups.  While tourism industries can also negatively impact individual behavior and critical habitat, responsible development activities can provide local economic opportunities while at the same time helping to protect these wonderful creatures.

Manta Ray ballet

Manta Ray ballet

We should take heart that some progress has been made but we must stay vigilant and continue to pressure governments to control and eliminate unsustainable fishing activities and instead focus on how we can co-exist with this wonderful species.

Feel free to contact me or any of the other Ocean Artist Members for more information.  Visit my Manta Ray gallery for more photos of these amazing creatures.

 

 

Please lend your voice of support.

 

Molokini Crater is one of my favorite dive sites in Maui County.  The boat ride from Lahaina Harbor is around 45 minutes and provides spectacular scenery of the islands of Maui and Lanai.  The crater has abundant hard corals on the inside and outside “wall”  White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Molokini Crater, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)and provides great dive opportunities for both beginner and advanced divers.  If you like a drift dive, then the outer wall dives are for you.  If you like a dive taken at a more leisurely pace with lots of exploration, then the inside crater dives are great.  There is a tremendous amount of marine life at the site, including anything from very small shrimps to a variety of sharks and rays, and, yes, even Humpback whales, which have been seen on Blunt-Slipper-Lobstervery rare occasions.

There are a number of dive sites on the inside of the crater including Reef’s End, Enenui, Middle Reef, and Taco Flats.  There is also a site near Enenui at about 110 feet that use to be referred to as Shark Condos, which as the name implies, is a rocky alcove where Green Sea Turtle, Chelonia mydas, (Linnaeus, 1758), Damaged Bill, Maui Hawaii (StevenWSmeltzer.com (949)290-6367)you can usually find 2 to 4 white-tip reef sharks.  Unfortunately, many of the dive boats do not take divers to this depth.  

From late December to early April you can usually hear the Humpback Whales singing throughout the dive, which is just awesome.  I have seen a number of different sharks and rays on this site over the years and it is one of my favorite dive sites in Maui.  Lots of “critters” to photograph and the coral is very healthy all around the crater.

I typically use Lahanina Divers when I go to Molokini Crater and they have always treated us very well.  The captains are very experienced with the channels and conditions around Maui and manage the dives safely and efficiently.  The boats are fairly roomy with ample space for gear  (StevenWSmeltzer.com (949)290-6367)and getting “kitted-up” prior to the dive.  I have tried some of the dive operators off of Kihei, Hawaii, including the guy with the “fastest-boat on Maui”, but I find those boats a good bit smaller (they are launched from a boat ramp by Kihei) and very cramped. If you’re are staying in or near Ka’anapali or Lahaina, I highly recommend not making the drive to Kihei, but using a dive operator out of Lahaina.

Follow this link for other Maui and Hawaiian dive site reviews

 

It just goes to show you sometimes “mother nature” can be very funny and somewhat unpredictable.

I was on my second dive at Molokini Crater in Maui, Hawaii and exploring a number of the hard coral searching for octopus or other interesting marine life to get that one interesting shot.  I was swimming a bit away from a small group of fellow divers and my ever trusty dive model when I spotted a Hairy Crabs in amongst the hard corals in the crater (sorry I have a soft spot for these somewhat under appreciated crustaceans).  These crabs get their name from the “hair” on their claws.  Well they were well hidden within the corals and I just could not seem to get the correct angle to get a good photo, so I decided to continue my search for other interesting “prey”.  As I looked up to scan other marine life close by I had a very close encounter with what I can only describe as a somewhat amorous Scrawled Filefish.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Scrawled Filefish. Aluterus scriptusEvidently as I was trying to get my shot at the crabs, the Scrawled Filefish may have seen its image reflecting off of my dome port.  The file fish approached and looked like it was preparing for a kiss or at least a hungry embrace, only to bounce off of my dome port.  I just had time to get a shot of the shocked look of a wounded and shunned lover.

I was rolling underwater.

The pool is open…..

Green Sea Turtle, Mala Pier, Chelonia mydas, Maui HawaiiWe began a two week look at Maui, Lanai and Molokai reefs with a visit to Turtle Reef on Maui which is located outside and to the south of the harbor in Lahaina.  The name of this reef actually refers to a general area of reef on the western side of Maui from just past the harbor in Lahaina to Ukumehama Beach State Park (also know as Thousand Peaks).  This large area of reef has many dive spots and is relatively shallow with most of the dive under 35 to 40 feet.  This is a great spot for chilling and the reef is in very good conditions in most areas.   This site is popular for refresher dives and for completing the basic dives required for scuba certification.

The site can be a bit cloudy if the seas are choppy or you have a large swell, but for the most part visibility is reasonable and it is a good place to see a wide variety of Hawaiian marine life.  This site can be accessed from boat or shore.  The trip fro the harbor is just about 10 minutes so an easy ride and a great way to spend an afternoon.

Up later in the week are dives on Molokini Crater, Lanai, other areas of Maui and Molokai (looking for those Hammerheads).

The pool is open…

If you are heading to the islands this year for some fun in the sun and places to dive there are several great spots to consider.    There are a number of top Hawaiian Dive sites to visit and some of my favorite spots are on Lanai, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Scuba Diving Fish Rain, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)

If you are an advanced /experienced diver definitely head for Molokai and Fish Rain.  This is the place for Hammerheads and a beautiful pinnacle that literally “rains” fish as you look for the elusive Hammerhead sharks.

On Maui, there are several good places but two of my Mala Pier, Wide Angel, Ambient Light, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)favorites are Molokini Crater and Mala Pier.  You can dive Mala Pier as either a boat dive or a shore dive and it is really a great night dive and one of my favorite spots in Hawaii.  Easy entry (off the boat ramp) and usually great visibility, always sharks and turtles and great for ambient light photography.

Manta Ray in Flight, Manta birostris,  (Walbaum, 1792), Kona Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)On the Big Island you have to do the Manta Dive.  Check out the phases of the moon (seriously) before you head out as it seems that the Mantas can be seen more in the waxing and waning phases of the moon.  You can also check on daily sitings and help determine when it is your best chance at seeing the most Manta Rays.

For information on other dive sites go to my Hawaii Dive Sites page.. and visit my website for images of fish from around the world and reviews of other great dive sites.

The pool is open…

Menjangan Island Soft Tree Coral, Lemnalia cervicornis, Bali Indonesia (Steven W SMeltzer)Bali’s coral reef on Menjangan Island hosts some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Menjangan Island has been a marine preserve and protected by the Balinese government for a number of years. The island is also fairly isolated in that once you arrive at the airport you have to travel 4 to 6 hours by car to get to the resorts close to the island. This Menjangan Island Octocoral Dendronephthya spp, Bali Indonesia (Steven W SMeltzer)means their are few divers that explore this marvelous site that is rich with all types of marine species and you can also on special occasions come across large pelagic species such as the whale shark.

Menjangan Island Scuba Diving History

Menjangan Island, in the north-west of Bali, is where diving first really started on the island back in about 1978, under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Navy, when it arranged a get-together of the country’s main diving clubs – Possi, Ganesha, Nusantara & Triskati.

That lead to Menjangan Island establishing itself as the premier dive location in Bali and many of the attendees went on to become the pioneers of commercial dive operations across Indonesia.  About a year later the Liberty wreck was explored for the first time since it had slipped down the slope at Tulamben in March 1963 and Menjangan Island was soon relegated to the background of Bali diving.

Gorgonain-Fan-Bali

Menjangan Island, Gorgonian Fan

Menjangan Island is part of the 19,000 hectare West Bali (Bali Barat) National Park that was first established in 1982.  However, the island was made a game reserve by the Balinese Council of Kings in 1950 and has been fairly well protected ever since.  Both the relative difficulty of getting to the Menjangan Island from the normal tourist spots on Bali plus the fact that the site has been relatively protected since 1950 has resulted in a coral reef that is both vibrant and flourishing around the island.  The Liberty wreck in Tulamben is also still a favorite dive site, but has a very high amount of diver traffic and the site has predictably shown quite a bit of wear and tear.

Getting to Menjangan Island

If you are in the Nusa Dua, Kuta or Sanur area it will normally take you around 3.5 hours assuming no bad “jams” as the locals refer to the often crowded conditions of the roads on Bali. It can take up to six hours if the roads and traffic do not cooperate.  The best alternative is to stay at a local resort while diving on the north side of the island.  The Matahari Beach Resort and Spa in Permuteran is one of my favorites and is located next to the Coral Project in Permuteran Bay.  The hotel is definitely 4 to 5 stars and the largest of the resorts on this side of the island with excellent service, food and access to diving sites. I love the dive operator on the property, a Swiss German expat, who runs a very competent organization.

Getting to the Dive Sites

You can reach the dive sites via boats off the coast of Pemuteran Bay in front of the dive resorts or a boat from Banyuwedang Bay or Spine-cheek Anemonefish, Premnas biaculeatus, Bali Indonesia (Steven W SMeltzer)perhaps the boat service run by the parks service.  If you are staying at one of the resorts around Pemuteran Bay, taking the boat in front of your resort is the way to go.  The boat trip is about 30 to 40 minutes and the seas are usually fairly flat as the area around Menjangan Island is fairly well protected.

Diving is great year round and even in the “rainy winter season” the visibility is normally quite clear.  The island is not large and does not have much fresh water  runoff that will impact visibility.  There can be some current on various sites around the island so you may dive some of the sites as drift dives.  Remember to listen to the instructions of your dive master and enjoy the dive.

Come preview the gallery, the pool is open

 

Kelp Forests of California

Diving the Kelp Forests

Magical and almost mystical, the kelp forests of California provide a unique and interesting habitat that stirs and inspires the imagination.  Giant Kelp Forests, Macrocystis pyrifera,  thrive along the western coast of North America, South America, South Africa,  Southern Australia,  and New Zealand

Kelp Forests of California

Kelp forest,  Macrocystis pyrifera, Southern California

where water temperatures typically range from 50° to 60° F (10°–15.5°C).  The Giant Kelp can also thrive in depths up to 30.5 m (100 ft.) depending upon the clarity of the water and the amount of sunlight available at depth.  As the largest kelp species, giant kelp attains heights up to 45.7 m (150 ft.) and in ideal conditions, giant kelp fronds can grow as much as 0.6 m (2 ft.) per day.

Swimming through these magnificent kelp forests is special.  With their tree-like structures swaying gently in the current, the

Kelp Forest, Giant Kelp

Kelp forest photograph, Macrocystis pyrifera, Southern California

Giant Kelp provides a perfect habitat for a wide variety marine creatures.  These life sustaining structures provide a critical foundation habitat to a number of fish, crustaceans,  sea anemones, corals, jellyfishes, sea otters and much more.

Giant Kelp

Giant kelp is golden brown with rootlike holdfasts, long, branched stipes and hundreds of wrinkled blades supported by bulb-shaped pneumatocysts.  It is an awesome experience to swim silently amongst these kelp forests as they gently sway with the current.  The light is subdued and somewhat distorted amongst the “branches” of the Giant Kelp and resident species of fish dart to and fro.  Visibility can range from a few inches to almost 60 feet depending upon the current and waves and whether the bottom is mainly sand or rock/coral.  With colorful Gerabaldi swimming around you along with a number of other species this makes a really interesting dive.

Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus, Profile, Laguna Beach California (Steven W Smeltzer)Although the water temperature is cool to cold and you must wear a 5 to 7 mil wetsuit this is a dive that you should make a least once and if you are lucking enough to live along the California coast or the west coast of Latin America this should be a regular part of your diving.

For more information visit my website or blog or follow me on Twitter @Images2Inspire .  The Pool is Open…

Vintage Carthaginian II

Vintage, Carthaginian II Shipwreck

Vintage Carthaginian II Creativity

I had a lot of fun putting these images together and creating some really interesting fine art and vintage photos of the Carthaginian II shipwreck in Maui Hawaii.  When I dive on a particular site a number of times I tend to equate a certain feel or mood for the site.  The Carthaginian II, originally a German cement transport ship, is almost 100 years old and was originally built and launched in 1920.  The ship was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and extensive refitted to make the ship resemble a 1800’s period whaling ship.  The ship was

Carthaginian II Whailing Museum

Carthaginian, At the Dock, Maui Hawaii

used as a floating museum in the harbor of Lahaina for over 30 years.  Remembering the ship floating in the harbor and now seeing her laying on the sea floor just outside of the harbor brings up a certain sense of nostalgia.

Age and Mystery

What I wanted to create was a sense of the age of the ship and the purpose that she served in Maui and even in Hawaii more generally.  When I dive on the ship, although she is not large, I sometimes get a sense of the “ghosts” of periods past associated with this aging wreck.  The ship’s main mast collapsed in the summer of 2011 and is now situated on top of the ship.  The hold is buckled significantly but makes a great shot if you lie down on the floor of the cargo hold of the ship.  There are a number of

Carthaginian II In the Hold

In the Hold, Carthaginian II

hard corals that have attached themselves to various portions of the wreck and you can usually find a reasonable variety of marine life on board.

To get the feel I was looking for in Vintage Carthaginian II, I choose to take a number of wide angle shots where I can see the entire ship and also a few photos where I would have interesting features that would lend themselves to a sense of age and provide a certain forlorn aspect to the photo.  As many of you can appreciate, getting a great photo to work with is the first part of the endeavor and I then went to work in Photoshop to give the images the exact look

Carthaginian II Discovery

Discovery, Carthaginian II

and feel that I wanted.  As I began to work

with the images I kept coming back to black and white images with good contrast with interesting textures and/or features to bring out the moodiness of the dive site.  These photos will go well with whale song form the Humpbacks that you can typically hear if you dive the site from late December up to late April or May.

Fine Art

I hope will agree the final images for Vintage Carthaginian II provide a sense of mystery and intrigue as well as a sense of discovery.  Though the ship continues to age and various parts continue to deteriorate the wreck still continue to be a

Carthaginian II

Carthaginian II Study in Abstract

great dive for a long time.  The key on this dive as most dives is to go very slow.  This is a small sight and while she lies at about 80 feet you still have plenty of bottom time to explore.  Let you imagination run away with you and imagine the life of the whaler and the importance of whaling in the development of  the Hawaiian Islands.

Go to my website and see the Carthaginian II Gallery for a complete photo review of the ship.

The pool is open…

 

 

Manta Ray diving can be an unforgettable experience.  These gentle giants are both graceful and magnificent Manta Ray Divingreminders of the wonders in our oceans.  Come dive with us off the coast of Hawaii and enjoy these magnificent creatures.

This Manta Ray video was shot off the coast of Kona in Hawaii. It was a marvelous dive. We saw 54 Manta Rays on two dives. 17 on a later afternoon dive and another 37 on the night dive. It was quite an experience.

Manta Ray diving can be an awesome experience.  The magnificent Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, is something special to experience.  The largest recorded Oceanic Manta Rays was more than 25 ft (7.6m) across from wing-tip to wing-tip and weighed over 5,300 pounds (2,400 kg).  Manta Rays have a short tail and no stinging spine.

Manta Rays are very acrobatic and on this dive you will be able to see them perform aerobatic flips and rolls as they glide through the water all about you.

Manta Rays were first described by Dondorff in 1798 and named Manta birostris. Other synonyms for Manta Rays include Cephalopterus vampyrus Mithchell 1824, Cepahalopterus manta Bancroft 1829, Manta americana Bancroft 1829, Ceratoptera johnii Müller & Henle 1841, Ceratoptera alfredi Krefft 1868, Brachioptilon hamiltoni Hamilton & Newman 1849, Raja manatia Bloch & Schneider 1801, Manta hamiltoni Hamilton & Newman 1849, and Manta alfredi Krefft 1868.

The Manta Ray is one of the largest fishes, and has been know to reach 9 m (29.5 ft) and weigh as much as 1,350 k (3,000 lb).  The Manta Ray’s lifespan is thought to be about 20 years.  They are close relatives of sharks, which are also one of their main predators along with certain types of whales.  They are a close relative to the stingray, but they do not have a stinging tail.

View other underwater photography on my website or vist my post – Diving with Manta Rays

The pool is open…

What do you think of when you hear the term “Coral Reefs” or when someone asks “What are coral reefs”?. Some may think of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia while others may think of the reefs

Coral Reefs (Steven W Smeltzer)

Spiny Flower Coral. Mussa angulosa. Grand Cayman

surrounding the Caribbean islands or yet someone else may think of aqua-blue water and long sandy beaches surrounding their favorite island or tropical get away.

Coral reefs are definitely related to each of these but they are much, much more.

Coral Reefs (Steven W Smeltzer)

Bluestripe Snapper, Lutjanus kasmira, Molokai Hawaii

While Coral reefs cover less than one tenth of one percent of the earth’s oceans these same reefs are estimated to contain one quarter of known marine fish species (Smithsonian Institute).

Corals are tiny animals which belong to the group cnidaria (the “c” is silent). Other cnidarians include hydras, jellyfish, and sea anemones. Corals are sessile animals, meaning they are not mobile but stay fixed in one place. As corals grow and expand, they will form one three reef types:

  • Fringing
  • Barrier or
  • Atoll
Coral Reefs (Steven W Smeltzer)

Bubble-tip Anemone, Grand Cayman

All three reef types of coral reefs—fringing, barrier and atoll—share similarities in their bio-geographic profiles.

This series of articles we will answer the following questions:

What are Coral Reefs?
Where are they located and How were they formed?
What are the different types of Coral Reefs?
What types of creatures inhabit them?
What are the threats to Coral Reefs?
What are the potential impacts of these threats on us from the impacts to our economy, to food supplies, to medicines and more?
What if anything should we be doing to help the reefs?
How can you help?

So come join in the discovery of our coral reefs and the underwater world that is so amazing and important to each and everyone one of us.

Be sure to follow on our continuing series of articles as we explore the amazing world of coral reefs.

Marine Species Galleries:

Coral Reefs (Steven W Smeltzer)

Ridged Cactus Coral, Mycetophyllia lamarckiana, Grand Cayman

Coral Reef Images
Pictures of Fish
Sea Turtles
Crustaceans and Echinoderms
Moray Eels

Detailed Information on select Marine Species:
Caribbean Fish
Hawaiian Fish
Sponges
Crustaceans, Invertebrates, Mollusks, Echinoderms

The world of coral reefs contains one of the most diverse environments on our planet, supporting

Creatures of the Coral Reef (Steven W Smeltzer)

Gorgonian Fan and Spotted Eagle Ray, Grand Cayman

more species per square meter than any other ocean ecosystem. Creatures of the Coral Reef examines the phenomenal diversity of our coral reefs which are sometimes called the rain forests of the sea.  From the microscopic to the gigantic, coral reefs support and nurture a tremendous variety of creatures.

Creatures of the Coral Reef (Steven W Smeltzer)

Blue Dragon, Pteraeolidia ianthina

These reef systems have been built up over thousands of years by tiny  calcium-producing organisms.  These Creatures of the Coral Reef have constructed a haven for countless forms of life, some of which seem totally alien in form. It is a “Star Wars” world of bright colors, ever changing patterns and odd shaped creatures that look as though they came directly from central casting. Only on the coral reef can one find living examples from nearly every group of organisms.

Creatures of the Coral Reef Overview

Scuba Diving on a coral reef gives you some idea about what it would be like to explore another planet. Drifting weightless across this diverse landscape enables you to appreciate some of the tremendous complexity and simplicity that makes up the coral reef.

Creatures of the Coral Reef (Steven W Smeltzer)

Green Sea Turtle, Chelonia mydas

Man has spent a relatively modest effort scientifically exploring the world’s oceans compared to the time and money that has gone into exploring the surface of the Moon and other planets. Yet, the growing and ongoing exploration of our oceans continues to bring the discovery of new species, the identification of different environments where marine life flourishes and a little more understanding of our underwater world.

Creatures of the Coral Reef (Steven W Smeltzer)

Sleepy Sponge Crab, Dromia dormia

It is a place of never-ending wonders. The world of the coral reef is also an extremely fragile environment, and it is under considerable pressure and facing real dangers to its continued existence. The distress and destruction of coral reefs has a noticeable impact on our lives from the foods we eat to the air we breathe.   From the Florida

Creatures of the Coral Reef (Steven W Smeltzer)

Grooved Brain Coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis

Keys to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to the atolls of the Pacific and islands of the Indian Ocean our coral reefs need our help. If we wish to leave a healthy and thriving reef system to our children and their children we need to understand the threats to this amazing environment and understand actions that can be taken to preserve and restore our reefs.  These are our oceans and the first step to helping protect coral reefs is education.

This segment provides a high-level overview of the basic types of Creatures of the Coral Reef, including:

Creatures of the Coral Reef (Steven W Smeltzer)

White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus

  • Sponges
  • Corals and Anemones
  • Sea Worms
  • Echinoderms
  • Crustaceans
  • Mollusks
  • Fishes
  • Sharks and Rays
  • Marine Reptiles
  • Marine Mammals

Come join us as we “dive into” this amazing and mysterious world. See more information on Creatures of the Coral Reef.

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