Hi friends and fam! I know I’ve been absent from the blog world for some time now. Wanted to update everyone and let you know that I’ve had yet another opportunity to conduct field research in Maui. This time I’m here to collect some missing samples and try to fill in data gaps from last year. I’m also helping a colleague remove a long-term cage experiment from the water and assisting with routine maintenance and data collection for another experiment.
I have already been in Maui for almost 2 weeks, but I literally haven’t had any time to blog. The week I arrived I was working 18-hour days (6 of those hours were underwater). The evenings were spent sorting, blotting, and weighing different types of algae from the experiment. It was exhausting work, but the most difficult part is over.
The rest of our schedule has been tricky to organize. We have had swells coming in from the south and the north, making scuba work a little more difficult than usual. Everything must be strategically planned around the swells and tides. This has meant dividing work by region instead of by project. We decided to finish all work at our more southern sites before the south swell hit. While the swells were overlapping we finished up work at our protected site on the west. Now, as the swell from the north dies down we will head up to our northern sites to finish things up. I have one week left to collect my remaining samples.
This trip has been significantly busier than my last, and I’m significantly more exhausted – but I’m keeping up my positive attitude and soaking up every moment while I’m here. I’m so lucky to work in this beautiful place.
Hopefully more posts with more pictures will come soon! We don’t have wifi at the place we’re staying this time, so unfortunately pictures may have to wait. Stay tuned!
This past weekend we took another trip to Haleakala National Park. This time we hiked in through the Halemau’u Trail (commonly referred to as “switchbacks”) and we stayed one night at the Holua cabin. We then trekked across the crater to the Paliku cabin and then hiked out of the crater down the Kaupo Gap (8 miles, downhill the whole way). My primary camera battery was close to dead, and I accidentally sent my charger home with my mom (oops!), so I took some great panoramic shots with my phone instead!
Crossing the crater
Front yard of the Paliku Cabin
Cabin at the end of the rainbow
View from Paliku
Beginning the Kaupo Trail from the top
The view on the way down (ignore the odd wrinkle in the photo). That’s the Big Island in the distance!
Finally made it to the trail head! Every muscle in my legs got worked out on this trail!
I have been incredibly blessed in my life to have had the opportunity to visit Napili 4 times previous to this trip. It is a favorite vacation destination for my mom’s family. The first time I visited was 12 years ago, and each time I visit I create more wonderful memories.
When my mom and brother found out that I was doing research on the west side of Maui, the idea was planted in my mom’s head that it was time for another visit to the islands. She works so hard and hasn’t had a vacation in almost 3 years, so I would say that this one was long overdue. She and my brother arrived on the 2nd of September and spent a week in Napili, which is just a short drive from the place where the research team is staying. I was lucky enough to get a day off last Thursday to spend with my family, and it was everything that I wanted and needed it to be.
I went over to the condo where my mom was staying and spent the night on Wednesday night so that we could get started having fun early on Thursday morning. We woke up early and ate breakfast at The Gazebo, a cute breakfast/lunch restaurant on the beach at the Napili Shores condo complex. It was a beautiful morning and I was so happy to be able to catch up with my mom while we waited in line for breakfast.
Candid of mom and Mason laughing
Popeye spinach omelette
After breakfast, we decided to hang out at the beach for a bit. While we were there a huge rain cloud moved over us and it poured for about 5 minutes… and then the sun came back out. Shortly after the rain storm we decided it was time for a snorkel at Honokeana Cove. Honokeana is one of my favorite snorkel spots, mostly because of the memories I have acquired over the past 12 years. The coral is not the most magnificent and it is not the most beautiful underwater landscape, but it is the cove where I learned to snorkel, and it is always the first place I snorkel when I visit on vacation. It is a special place because there are so many sea turtles everywhere you look. For the first time ever on this visit I saw a spotted eagle ray, which was a real treat!
Spotted eagle ray
After snorkeling we headed back to the condo to get ready for dinner. On the way into town we stopped at the Maui Grown Coffee Shop (off of Lahainaluna) for a coffee tasting. My mom is a big fan of coffee and I thought it would be a great idea for her to get some quality, locally grown Hawaiian coffee to take back to the mainland with her. After coffee tasting we went to dinner at Hula Grill in the Whaler’s Village at Ka’anapali. It’s always a fun place to eat with your feet in the sand, and the sunsets are magnificent. Unfortunately, the rain returned in the middle of our meal and the three of us could barely fit under the umbrella that covered barely half of our table. My poor brother was soaked on one side! After dinner we headed to Lahaina to walk around for a bit before heading home for the night.
Standing in front of a sperm whale skeleton in Whaler’s Village
Sunset from Hula Grill
All-in-all it was a wonderful day and I am so grateful that my family was able to pay me a visit in this wonderful place where I work.
I swam with an endangered Hawaiian monk seal today. It swam right up to me to check out me and my float. This one has been tagged by scientists. Too cool!
Last Saturday (or maybe it was the one before that? Time moves so quickly!), the Maui SLIMEO gang (Emily, Niko, Levi, and myself) went on a recreational dive (along with our local friend, Rich) at the Mala boat ramp. I know, you’re probably thinking “Why on earth would they want to do more diving when they finally have a break?” Well, sometimes the only thing needed for a moment to feel like a break from work is a change of scenery.
Mala is a unique reef because most of the structures supporting corals and providing habitat for a diverse array of marine life are man-made. The concrete pier at Mala Wharf was built in the early 1900’s and was used to transport produce and supplies. It was also a fishing pier for a time, but was destroyed in 1992 by Hurricane Iniki. The fallen platforms and pylons create a fun underwater landscape for exploration and photography.
On this dive we saw some great wildlife – everything from white tip reef sharks to tiny nudibranchs (colorful sea slugs). I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
Although we don’t have tons of free time, we have to find some time to relax! Using some water color paper (which we sometimes use to press algae), and some cheap water colors I painted some bananas inspired by a bunch of bananas we received from a friend.