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
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.
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. 🙂
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:
Star of India
Star of India
Predator – Hammerhead shark, Molokai Hawaii
Predator – Hammerhead Shark
Manta Ray Trio
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.
“Where are the ancient mariners from earlier days Who roamed the oceans’ ever changing maze; Where have they gone?” cry voices from the deep And caverns of darkness answer: “They sleep!” What greetings come from the voiceless dead? Did they always live in constant dread? What salutation, welcome, or reply, What pleasure from the shells that lifelessly lie? They are no longer here; they all are gone Into the land of shadows
by Steven W Smeltzer
Sea Turtles, what lies ahead for these intriguing animals?
Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands as little as a hundred years ago, the Green Sea Turtle, the Hawksbill, the Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridely and the Olive Ridley are all listed as endangered species. While the Loggerhead Turtle is the only sea turtle not currently on the endangered species list, conservation efforts-including placing these turtles on the endangered species list and the actions of many countries and individuals has helped select population groups. However, much work is yet to be done.
I remember my first encounter with Sea Turtles (almost 30 years ago) as if it were yesterday. I had just returned from a business trip to Australia and had stopped by the big island of Hawaii for a little relaxation before heading back to the states. I had wanted to start scuba diving for several years and the resort I was staying at had a dive shop on site that offered an “introductory dive” experience. After some brief drills in the pool, I was off to the boat and my first scuba diving adventure.
We were the second group to enter the water and just after my giant stride to enter the water, I looked to my left and there were 3 Green Sea Turtles, Chelonia mydas, just off the reef not more than 5 meters from the dive master and me. It was love at first sight; the turtles were very relaxed and the dive master did an excellent job of having us just hover and watch the turtles as they swam in and around our small group and snacked at the local reef “deli”.
The Sea Turtle population in Hawaii is one of the few population groups that have been increasing over the last 30 years due to the actions of both the local government and concerned citizens. Major population reductions around the world over the last three generations show a decline in the number of mature females between 48% to 67%-depending on the species-and startling reductions in the overall population sizes in a number of key nesting sites.
Sea Turtles are fighting for survival. They are hunted for their shells, eggs, meat and skin. Their habitats are under stress from human development, they fight accidental capture in fishing gear, and they face new diseases, worsened by changes in the environment. Nesting sites are critically important to the survival of wild Sea Turtles and we must find ways to protect these sites in a responsible fashion or we may soon face a time where the only sea turtles to be found are in an aquarium.
Green Sea Turtle, Chelonia mydas:
Eastern Pacific Ocean, Mexico – 96% to 98% reduction
Southeast Asia, Indonesia (Berau Islands) – 96% reduction
Southeast Asia, Malaysia (Sarawak) – 94% to 99% reduction
Southeast Asia, Peninsular Malaysia – 88% to 92% reduction
Western Atlantic Ocean, Venezuela (Aves Is.) – 98% reduction
Mediterranean Sea, Turkey – 93% reduction
Eastern Indian Ocean, Myanmar – 89% to 90% reduction
Northern Indian Ocean, PRD Yemen (Sharma) – 74% to 80% reduction
Eastern Indian Ocean, Indonesia (West Java) – 96% reduction
Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata:
The Hawksbill has decreased an estimated 85+% over the last 100 years from over 70,000 turtles to roughly 10,000 animals today.
Indian Ocean, Madagascar – 90% reduction
Indian Ocean, Egypt – 99% reduction
Indian Ocean, Maldives – 96% reduction
Pacific Ocean, Milman Island 46% reduction
Pacific Ocean, Indonesia 93% reduction
Atlantic Ocean, Bahamas 96% reduction
Atlantic Ocean, Nicaragua 97% reduction
Atlantic Ocean, Brazil 80% reduction
Atlantic Ocean, Panama 95% reduction
Loggerhead, Caretta caretta
Leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea
East Pacific Ocean, Mexico 98% reduction
East Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica 95% reduction
West Pacific Ocean, Malaysia 100% reduction
West Pacific Ocean, Indonesia 76% reduction
Because of the threats facing the Sea Turtle it is evident that these turtles face a measurable risk of extinction. The time for action is now to help preserve these wonderful creatures for future generations. Conservation actions, such as those in islands of the Seychelles, Hawaii, Florida and other locations demonstrate that the turtle populations will increase with aggressive conservation activities, but without specific protective actions these turtles are in critical danger.
Take the pledge. Educate yourself regarding the dangers facing Sea Turtles and commit yourself to tell at five other people. #takethepledge, #conservation, #seaturtles
Note: Endangered species information and population estimates are provided by CERN Redlist
More information on the dangers facing Sea Turtles can be found at:
We 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).
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.
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 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.
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 world of coral reefs contains one of the most diverse environments on our planet, supporting
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Molokini Crater is one of the best dives if not the best dive on Maui. This scuba diving site is only accessible via boat and is at the remnants of an extinct volcano. The crescent of the volcano “cone” rises above the sea some 165 feet. The small island lies in the Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Kahoolawe and Maui. The opening side of the crater faces the northwest and only a short boat ride from the Wailea side of Maui. If you are interested in some of the history around Molokini Crater there is a short article written by Edward L Caum, Geology of Molokini and published in 1930. There are a couple of “plate” photographs included in the article and it is interesting to compare to the crater today. Molokini Crater has been a Marine Preserve(MLCD) since the summer of 1977 and features one of the most pristine hard coral reefs in Hawaii.
The ride from the Lahina side of the island takes about 45 minutes and if you tend to get sea sick, I would recommend driving about 45 minutes or an hour to the Wailea area where you can take a very easy boat ride to the crater.
I prefer scuba diving with Lahina Divers but you must take about a 45 minute boat ride to the Molokini crater. If you want you can use a scuba diving operator that leaves from the Wailea side of Maui. If you are staying in Wailea I would certainly recommend this, although the boats tend to be smaller and there is one operator on that side that I simply refer to as the “Scuba Nazi”. So be careful of the operator that you choose. Make sure you check out the reviews and the equipment used by each of the dive operators. The v-hull boats that leave the Wailea area can be quite cramped if the number of divers is more than 10 on the boat and on many of these there is little if any room to move around.
Access – Moderate to Moderately Difficult to reach the site; boat only (You should not take a boat from Lahaina if you get seasick – 45 minute boat ride); Much easier ride from Wailea side.
Depth to 125+ft
Visibility – good to excellent
Current – mild to extremely strong at the edges of the crater
Marine Species variety – good; normally White-tip Reef Sharks at about 110 feet on the far eastern edge of the crescent
Reef health – good to very good
Scuba Diving Molokini Crater is certainly the best boat dive on the island of Maui. You have to go to Lanai or Molokai to find better deep water scuba diving sites. The clarity of the water is usually quite good at Molokini and there are a several dive sites on the volcano on the outside of the crescent shape crater and on the inside of the crater.
Enenue – Inside eastern tip of the crescent
Middle Reef – Inside just to the east of the middle of the crescent and closer to the cone
Tako Flats – Inside on the western side of the crescent
Reef’s End – Far western end of the crescent
The Back Side – Outside or on the back of the crescent
For inside the crater I like the Eastern edge – Enenue. At about 120 feet there is a series of overhangs that tend to house several White-tip Reef Sharks. As you are swimming down and back up after visiting the “condos” there is a good variety of marine species. You will find typical butterflyfishes, wrasses, damselfishes, eels, and crustaceans all around the crater. You will also find sea turtles on a regular basis and on a very rare occasion humpback whales have been seen by scuba divers at Molokini crater.
The current can be quite strong on the outside edges of the crater, so do not go outside the crater for any reason if your group is scuba diving the “inside”. The current at the edges can take a diver quite a distance in a very short period of time. For this reason you must take a safety sausage with you on this dive and know how to use it. If you are scuba diving the inside of the crater you will rarely have much if any current and even if the seas are choppy the cone of the volcano protects the inner dive sites quite well.
In the sand flats of the crater you will often find Freckled Snake Eels, so take your time on this dive and also make sure you “look” into the distance often as you can see various types of sharks and on especially amazing dives you may even see a Humpback Whale. If you are diving in whale season (December to April/May) make sure you listen for the whale song. In February to early April I have heard literally dozens of whales singing to each other. It certainly makes the dive a lot more interesting.
Orange Canyon Grand Cayman is one of the more well known and visited scuba diving sites on the west side of Grand Cayman. The dive site is near the west end of the island and is very close to several other well know sites, such as Big Tunnels. This scuba diving site is typical of the better sites on the west side.
Reef Silversides, Atherinidae, Clupeidae, Engraulididae, Grand Cayman
You start on the mooring ball and descend through a break in the coral and emerge on the wall around 100 feet. The dive moves along the wall where you can look out into the blue for large pelagic species such as sharks and Spotted Eagle Rays and then finishes at the top of the wall where you can explore various coral, sponges, fish, eels and turtles.
Orange Canyon Grand Cayman compares very well with other west side dive sites, but I admit my favorites sites are on the north wall. However, I definitely like this site and I dive it regularly. It is especially good when there are large “swarms” of Silversides on this site. There are also likely to be several Tarpon in the canyons as you explore the site. This site gets its name from the spectacular Elephant Ear Sponges. These colorful sponges make a great backdrop for photos and if you explore closely you will likely find various cleaner shrimps and blennys on the sponges. You will also likely find a cleaning station with a grouper exposing his gills
Nassau Grouper, Epinephelus striatus, Grand Cayman
for servicing. Orange Canyon Grand Cayman can have a current and can have a good bit of turbidity but normally the visibility is quite good and the diver operator should check this before you enter the water.
I recommend taking this dive very slowly and actively looking around at the wide variety of life that can be found here.
Mala Pier is without a doubt one of the top if not the top shore dive on Maui. This is especially true of the available sites on the leeward side of the island near Kaanapali. The pier is in the middle of Lahina near the Canary Mall. When you are driving along the highway from Kaanapali back towards Kahului you can see the pier on the right just as you start into Lahina. Mala Pier is an extremely easy boat dive and a moderately easy shore dive (the only difficulty is the entry if you go over the reef on the side of the pier).
Yellowfin Goatfish, Mulloidichthys vanicolensis, Maui Hawaii
The dive itself is between 15 to 35 feet and you can spend well over an hour assuming you have reasonable air consumption. Mala Pier is loaded with all kinds of schooling fish, Green Sea Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles, White-tip Reef Sharks, lots of Butterflyfishes, and much more making it an excellent site for underwater photography.
Mala pier was built in the early 1900’s by the Dole Pineapple company to be able to offload pineapples from Lanai. They would then have them processed at the Pineapple Cannery in Lahina which is now the Cannery Mall. Mala pier, for a variety of reasons, was never used by the Dole Company but did see service in WWII for loading and unloading supplies. The concrete pier stood until 1992 when it was destroyed in hurricane Iniki. However, the destruction of the pier has been a boon for scuba divers in Maui.
Mala Pier The Dive
White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, mano lalakea, Maui Hawaii
Mala Pier makes a great morning or afternoon dive and is spectacular as a night dive. However, I would highly recommend that you dive the site first during the day before attempting a night dive. Visibility is usually quite good, from 40 feet and up. There is no current to speak of and the site is quite easy to navigate. You swim out following the remains of the pier and then turn around and follow them back to shore. No worries, very easy navigation. There are also a few coral mounds in the sand surrounding the pier which are also quite interesting and make for great macro photography. But you should be a reasonable navigator to investigate these additional sites.
To enter Mala Pier, there is ample parking found at the pier and there is also a place to rinse your gear after the dive at the top of the boat ramp. The dive site can be entered in one of three ways, entering via the beach on the west side of the pier that is still standing, walking down the boat ramp but don’t tell anyone I mentioned the second option, or probably the third and easiest option is to enter via the small beach to the east or shore side of the boat ramp and then swim around to the dive site.’
Keeltail Needlefish, Platybelone argalus, Maui Hawaii
If you enter Mala Pier from the beach, on the west side, it is best done when there is a high tide. You will have to cross a very shallow reef and will most likely have to walk part of the way out over the coral. If you choose this entry I would suggest that you float your gear and not put on your fins or BC until you reach deeper water. Please check the local tides with Google or go to tides.info and search for tidal information for Lahina before your dive.
However, I would highly recommend entering Mala PIer via the small beach to the east of the boat ramp. This is a very easy entry and a requires a relatively easy 10 minute swim around to the pier in calm water.
White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, mano lalakea, Maui Hawaii
Once you enter the site you will quickly get to about 15 feet of water and can begin your dive. You will notice many Keetail Needlefish around the standing and fallen columns of the pier. You will also see a number of juvenile fish of a variety of species in this same area. As you move further along the pier you will encounter a wide variety of corals attached to the pier and a number of different types of Butterflyfishes, Bird Wrasses, Goatfishes, Green Sea Turtles and much more.
If you are looking for sharks you can almost guarantee that you will see several White-tip reef sharks on this dive. There is usually one or more resting under the fallen columns towards the far end of the pier. You will also see sharks resting on the bottom typically on the western side of the pier usually mid-way down to pier to the end of the pier. You can also encounter these sharks as they are cruising around the ruble in search of the next meal. Don’t worry they won’t bother divers unless they are significantly provoked. So approach slowly and then take the time to appreciate these marvelous creatures.
This is a great dive site. Take your time to truly appreciate it. If you need to rent tanks check out Lahina Divers, they are my favorite dive operation on Maui, but you can also rent from a number of other locations.
You can see the complete photo gallery for Mala Pier at stevenwsmeltzer.com as well as more on underwater photography and landscape photography or you can follow me on Twitter at Images2Inspire.
The Green Sea Turtle is a wonderful, graceful creature. They capture the imagination especially when seen gracefully swimming underwater or as young hatch-lings racing for the relative safety of the sea.
Green Sea Turtle, Grand Cayman
The Green Sea Turtle inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world. It is a large turtle and may grow to over 300 kg (700 pounds). These marvelous creatures can also live for up to 80 years.
The Green Sea Turtle is named for the greenish color of its skin. Its shell can be a dull brown to an olive green tint depending upon its habitat. There are generally though to be two types of green turtles including the Atlantic green sea turtle, normally found off the shores of Europe and North America, and the Eastern Pacific green sea turtle, which has been found in coastal waters from Alaska to Chile.
Green Sea Turtle,
Unlike most sea turtles, adult green sea turtles are herbivorous, feeding on sea grasses and algae. Juvenile green turtles, however, will also eat invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish, and sponges.
Green Sea turtles have lengthy migrations from feeding sites to their individual nesting grounds, normally on sandy beaches. Mating typically occurs every two to four years in shallow waters close to the shore. To create a nest, females leave the sea and choose an area, often on the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs. They dig a pit in the sand with their flippers. The nest pit may contain as many as 200 eggs. After the eggs are placed into the pit it is covered with sand and the turtle returns to the sea. It takes approximately two months for the eggs to hatch. Immediately after hatching is the most dangerous time of a green turtle’s life. The short but difficult journey from the nest to the nest to sea requires the young turtles to evade multiple predators, including crabs and flocks of gulls.