Heading back down the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain

We are just now leaving French Frigate Shoals after to diving days here.  A little shallower than some earlier dives, working a subtle 60m ledge that goes around most islands in the Pacific.  The ledges are often rich with life, as they act as an oasis of sorts, providing cover for all manner of reef fish and invertebrates, which in turn bring in the predatory fish.

Brown booby on Metal Shark

Brown boobies will often land on our boats to take a break from the constant searching for small fish and squid. They are mostly unafraid of humans, and have a little bit of an attitude.

Galapagos shark - turning towards camera

A galapagos shark turns at the camera and then bumps it.

Rob rolling in at Midway

Rob rolling in at Midway

Rob Selfie with Galapagos shark

Rob Selfie with Galapagos shark

Decompression up here seems to be boom or bust – today was a good one – sharks and pelagic reef fish like Ono and small tuna schools came by.  I also saw my first Mobula ray – at first I thought it was a small, slightly funky Manta Ray, but as I swam closer, I was almost certain it was a Mobula.  Later review of the footage led our group at least to call it a Mobula – pretty cool.

Mobula ray at French Frigate Shoals

Mobula ray at French Frigate Shoals

On the way up the chain, earlier this month, we also stopped at French Frigate Shoals, and I saw a rare unicornfish, Naso annulatus on decompression.  However, my camera was on a drop line and turned off, and by the time I pulled it up, turned it on, and looked for the fish, he was gone.  Luckily today, there was a small group of 10 or so, feeding on the plankton around us as we decompressed.  Such a bizzare group of fishes; I don’t believe that anyone really knows why they have such outrageous noses.

Naso annulatus

Naso annulatus

Naso maculatus

Naso maculatus

We came up with a fun diversion on deco at Lisianski earlier on the trip, where I hang a GoPro on some stainless steel fishing leader, and dangle it about 8 feet below where I am off-gassing.  Sharks and jacks are naturally curious, especially when items are shiny or clank around.  At Pearl and Hermes, I had a huge Ulua (Caranx ignobilis) actually eat the camera twice, then spit it out.  The shot below is what a poor little reef fish must see, just before the end.

Caranx ignobilis about to eat the GoPro

Caranx ignobilis about to eat the GoPro

Hiialakai - bow shot

Our home for almost a month, the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai.

Malolo and crew

Our trusty safety divers, Senifa and Keo, ready to roll. Hadley was their coxswain for the trip

Brown booby and Rob

Rob making a friend, a rather testy booby

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