Adventure X

How far would you go to explore a world unknown to all but a few?

1740
menpachi, soldierfish
Like tako (octopus), ‘ū‘ū (soldierfish) are best known in Hawai‘i by their Japanese name: menpachi. Sought for their soft, flavorful meat, these distinctive red fish, with dark, oversized eyes, are rarely seen by day, preferring to hide in caves and small crevices in the reef. The silvery fish swimming above the menpachi are weke, or goatfish. Unlike their nocturnal neighbors, weke are commonly spotted in Hawaiian waters, their large schools hovering above Maui’s shallow reefs. Although prized by fishermen, weke have a toxin inside their heads that can cause hallucinations and terrible nightmares; local wisdom warns that when eating weke, one should avoid the meat near the head. Hawaiian legend tells of Pahulu, the god of nightmares, who is forced to flee Lāna‘i when a young prince, Kaululā‘au, rids the island of spirits. In his escape, Pahulu hides inside a weke, where he remains.

While the back wall doesn’t have any sand (just an awesomely vertical cliff), our second dive site, Marty’s Reef, is sixty feet deep with a sandy bottom, so being able to swim off on your own is a huge plus for photographers. The reef is off the Mākena coast, and within minutes of dropping to the bottom, I’m surrounded by schools of weke (goatfish) who patrol a cluster of coral heads as if they’re guarding a fort.

harlequin shrimp
A mere one to two inches long, harlequin shrimp are ornamental darlings of Maui’s reefs. In Hawaiian waters, the monogamous shrimp (who are often seen in pairs) have spots the color of red wine, while harlequin shrimp found elsewhere in the world are bedecked in royal blue. All of them, however, dine exclusively on starfish, which they flip upside down to keep them from escaping—and then proceed to eat live.

Minutes later, as I hover weightlessly over the sand and remember how much I love the silence and serenity of being underwater, a huge pair of dark wings go flapping off into the blue. A few of the divers around me quickly reach for their cameras, as a massive manta ray calmly glides by.

At seventy, Ed seems as spry and enthusiastic as I imagine he was in 1971, when he first began diving in Maui waters. He is also an accomplished photographer himself, so it makes sense he offers a trip that’s geared toward getting the shot.
So what are Ed’s tips for great underwater photos?

A mere one to two inches long, harlequin shrimp are ornamental darlings of Maui’s reefs. In Hawaiian waters, the monogamous shrimp (who are often seen in pairs) have spots the color of red wine, while harlequin shrimp found elsewhere in the world are bedecked in royal blue. All of them, however, dine exclusively on starfish, which they flip upside down to keep them from escaping—and then proceed to eat live.

“Try to separate the subject from the bottom, shoot up, and aim for good contrast. That, and just take a lot of pictures,” he says. “And then don’t show anyone the bad ones.”

For more information on Adventure X, contact Ed Robinson’s Diving Adventures at 808-879-3584, or visit MauiScuba.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here