Marine Conservation Biology in Hawaii

Day Nine (Jan. 26) – There are no Midway strangers, just friends we haven’t met!
by -- January 26th, 2011

We made a bunch of new friends this afternoon while snorkeling the reef. This blog post is really to post the video I put together of what the reef looks like here and to introduce you to our new parrotfish friends, the teardrop butterfly fish, and many others!

We went snorkeling this afternoon at a place they call 172. The water was a bit chilly at first but some of us braved the waters for close to an hour! Our boat captain John Miller was quite impressed at how long we stayed in!  The fish were fantastic and the reef was quite beautiful! Unfortunately you will see some marine debris in this video. I wanted to put it in to help people realize that even though we are in the most isolated chain of islands in the world, the evidence of people is everywhere, even on the reef.

I wanted to post this video so everyone who is following our blog can see what the reef looks like here. It is beautiful and the fish were phenomenal during this snorkel! I got to see my favorite fish, the tear drop butterfly fish (it’s in the video, it’s a little fish but it’s there, yellow white and black with an upside down tear shape).

Even underwater though we see evidence of the effects of humans on the environment.  While underwater Amy and I shared a moment as we looked at the net (shown in this video).  We looked at each other and motioned a tear from our snorkel masks. It is striking to see marine debris in a place as beautiful as a coral reef. But yet we have seen it everywhere, surrounding albatross, on beautiful sandy beaches, and now even underwater.

To end on a good note, the parrotfish were huge, I saw a fish eat another fish, we got some salt water in our system and watched the goat fish schools glimmer in the sun.  It was a beautiful day under the sea!

10 Comments

  1. Mary Ann Heenehan
    Jan 26, 2011

    Great video, Heather! We loved speaking with you last night and hearing the excitement in your voice about this amazing experience! Thanks for capturing these gorgeous shots! We can’t wait to see all of the pictures and videos when you get home! 🙂

  2. Maureen Dunphy
    Jan 26, 2011

    Thanks for posting the great underwater video, Heather! The blue fish are the parrotfish, yes? Which flash is the teardrop butterfly fish? I googled it, so I’d know what I was looking for. Was it about 53 seconds into the video? Or 1:21 or 1:49 or 2:33? Flashes of yellow, some white and black, but hard to pick out the teardrop. Must have been very exciting for you! Also, why is this place called “172”? Is there a system of sectioning the reef to help communicate locations (i.e., there’d be, then, a 171 and 173 nearby). It was sad to see evidence of the human marring the tranquility. It was fun to catch a glimpse of you Amy, I’m assuming, swimming and to hear you underwater. Thanks, Meagan’s Mom

    • Heather Heenehan
      Jan 27, 2011

      Hi Meagan’s Mom again! So I checked up on 172 we think it’s from UC Santa Cruz researcher plots. And the first fish you were inquiring about is called a Hawaiian Morwong! I had never heard of them until now!

      • Maureen Dunphy
        Jan 29, 2011

        Thanks, Heather! Hope the Santa Cruzers only marked the plots on maps, not with little flags or boundary stakes on the reef 🙂

        When you’re back in the land of high-speed Internet, check out: http://www.hawaiisfishes.com/%5B…%5D/fom_12_05.htm In 2005, the Hawaiian Morwong was the “Fish of the Month” on this particular Hawaiian Fishes website. There are some great photos of them up close. The author does mention they’re common at Midway, but rare enough on the main islands that, “I like to tell people that if they see a morwong, they will enjoy one year of good luck!” Here’s wishing you your year, Heather!

        • Heather Heenehan
          Jan 28, 2011

          Okay so at the beginning it’s Meagan and Andy and then the over the shoulder shot quickly later in the video is also Meagan. I think I confused things by mentioning Amy in the blog!

          And I can’t say I blame you, distinguishing people in wetsuits and snorkels isn’t easy! So no worries! Meagan was in fact my intrepid snorkel buddy!

          We are all loving our final days on Midway, of course trying not to think about the fact that we’re almost at the end of our stay here but trying to live up every second!

          • Maureen Dunphy
            Jan 29, 2011

            Thanks, Heather! When I’d taken a second look, before I asked you, I thought it was Meagan. Maybe all those years of watching her swim at meets with swim teams helped.

            Enjoy your last day on Midway and have a safe trip home!

            Wishing you all the best,

            Meagan’s Mom

  3. Heather Heenehan
    Jan 26, 2011

    Hi Meagan’s Mom! I have to tell you that your daughter is a great snorkel buddy! The big fish are the parrotfish I think I mostly put the blue ones in there. There’s a big one 17 seconds in. And you are right with the 1:20 is the tear drop butterfly! It’s right in the center, good spot! It’s also around 2:22! I was told they were rare in Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii this summer and I just think they’re wicked cute! I will check with Andy on why they call it 172. I meant to ask the question myself. I’m glad you liked it!

    Hi Mom! Thanks! I just put it together quickly, flipshare did most of the assembling but I guess I did have to do the capturing! It was great talking to you yesterday! I’ll have hours of fun pictures and videos when I get home!

    And my word fittingly enough to type in before I submit is friend 🙂 We’ve made a lot of friends out here for sure!

  4. Lindsey Peavey
    Jan 27, 2011

    Hey Heather et al.,

    Great job with the underwater flip-caming! It’s not easy, and you did a much better job keeping the camera still and focused on fish than we did last year 🙂 Looks like you guys had awesome visibility, and its so fun that you’re getting to do so much snorkeling! We’re all living vicariously…

    • Heather Heenehan
      Jan 27, 2011

      Thanks Lindsey! We have been quite lucky with the weather and have only had to slightly modify plans as we go along! In fact yesterday was the first day that weather changed what we were planning on doing. Hopefully one more trip to the cargo pier left in the weather!

      I’m sure I’ll do the same living vicariously thing next year and reminiscing about this beautiful place.

  5. Maureen Dunphy
    Jan 27, 2011

    Thanks for your response, Heather!

    So is that Amy, Meagan, or Andy who makes a brief appearance in your video? (I may be able to spot the occasional teardrop butterfly fish, but apparently have a harder time distinguishing people in wetsuits:) I hadn’t realized Meagan was one of the intrepid snorkelers until I talked to her last night.

    Hope you’re enjoying your final days on Midway! What adventures you are all having!

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