Thursday, December 24, 2009

Inquisitive Wyland's Humpback Whale

On Christmas Day Eve, I had an opportunity to take Wyland out for a whale watching trip at the end of the year. Wyland is perhaps the most successful marine life artist of our generation. His whaling wall paintings represent his dynamic art and are very impressive. We've been connected via the love of the ocean as well as the Ocean Artists Society (Wyland is one of the founder and I am a selected member). Anyway he seems to bring me a good luck everytime we go out together. Last time we found a huge floating net and caught four mahi mahi and bunch of rainbow runners. That doesn't happen often around here. Floating objects are scarce, and finding one is a very rare event.

The whale watching season for Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, was still early and activity level was fairly low on this day, although the ocean and the weather conditions were near perfect.

As we were drifting to observe some "lazy"whale activities in the distance hoping for a breach, we noticed enormous shades of black & white nearby surface of the water over gunwale. It was a humpback whale sitting right under our boat! The fish finder sonar displayed a huge red patch located at about 60 feet directly below the boat. Wow! How this happened? I don't know. Wyland's good karma? Maybe.

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

The inquisitive whale stayed under there another 10 minutes or so checking out the bottom of my boat thoroughly. The whale seemed to be a young, small whale - somewhat skinny looking, but healthy and full of energy. She had a pair of extra long white pectoral fins to complement her slender blackish body. A beautiful whale. As she fulfilled her curiosity, she gracefully moved away and disappeared into the deep blue ocean.

After that, everything got quiet again, and stayed that way until we decided to leave for the day. As we moved toward the harbor, Wyland spotted a breaching whale in the distance. It was quite far from where we were but the whale kept breaching again and again, so we couldn't resist to go see it!

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, head-lunging breach, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Most of the time like this situation, the breaching session would be over by the time I arrive at the scene. However, this time, we somehow made it there in time before she quit breaching. Luckily we were able to witness and photograph a few spectacular head-lunging breach sequences.

It was almost late afternoon. The swell was increasingly getting big, and made it difficult to shoot the breaching whale. But, those huge swell made these breaching pictures more spectacular and dramatic because we were able to shoot up from the bottom of the big swell as the whale was breaching out from the top of the swell. The resulting breaching pictures were impressively dynamic, and looked like they were shot from the water level or even below the water level! Technically I WAS below the water level, though!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shibi - Yellowfin Tuna or Bigeye Tuna?

Can you tell the difference between a juvenile yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares, and a juvenile bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus?

I've been a fishing enthusiast but for a long time I've had trouble in identifying each of them properly when I took pictures of them. Hawaiian and Japanese fishermen call both juveniles as "shibi", and usually are careless about which. I've been the same way, too.

On the other day, I had an opportunity to compare the two species of similar size. I caught both species on the same day. By comparing them side by side, the difference was obvious.

juvenile yellowfin tunas are called, shibi in Hawaii and Japan, consisting of two differenct species of tunas - yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares (above), and bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus (bottom), note the differences that bigeye tuna has larger eyes, longer pectoral fins and more robust body, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

The most obvious difference was the pectoral fins. The bigeye tuna has a lot longer pec fin than the yellowfin, passing the dorsal and almost reaching the anal fin. Its body shape is naturally much more robust - looks a lot fatter than the yellowfin does. In addition, the eye of the bigeye tuna was apparently larger relative to the size of the body and head, which explains the origin of the common name of the species.

I always thought the bigeye tuna tastesd better because it looked fatter! Maybe that's not true after all. In any case, they are fabulously good eat. If you are catching one, make sure to take time and bleed them well. It'll make a huge difference at dinner table.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Sunset Play
The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part II

Continued from the post: Trophy Mahi Mahi - Dolphinfish Bull 37 LB 1 Hour Fight - The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part II.

After all the excitement of catching the trophy mahi mahi, we cruised down to south in search of calmer water and tunas because the gusty north east Trade Wind messed up the northern fishing area where we were. We checked a few buoys cruising long distance but nothing much was happening. Soon we realized how late it was already, and decided to call for the day. We looked at our proud mahi mahi again and took more pictures with the sunset behind. "Damn! He was huge!"

My buddy and I were in a hurry trying to get home before the sun set, so that we could wash the boat under daylight!. A small dolphin suddenly showed up leaping toward the bright sun. And then, another one, and another... Pretty soon I was surrounded by hundreds of pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata.

pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, juveniles and baby, doing synchronized jumping out of boat wake at sunset, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

They seemed very excited about the arrival of my boat and welcomed us by bow-riding, wake-riding, and showing off their signature high leaps against golden sun. What a beautiful moment. I couldn't resist taking my camera out of the Pelican case and started shooting them as everything started to glow under purple-orange fluorescent light. Known as the sunset golden hour for photographers.

Shooting from a rocking boat at sunset wasn't easy, but luckily I was able to capture a moment when four young dolphins jumped out of the boat wake all at once. This dolphin shot would become one of my signature pictures of the dolphin for sure, and also was totally worth my effort of washing the boat in the dark ;-)

Trophy Mahi Mahi - Dolphinfish Bull 37 LB 1 Hour Fight
The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part I

I love fishing. Particularly when I hook something big on a light tackle outfit. For example, when I fish for mahi mahi or ono, small tunas, I usually use a light tackle instead of heavy marlin tackles because the same fish gives me far more excitement, otherwise, the game is over in a matter of seconds.

I heard a "rumor" that there were hundreds of sharks at OT buoy along with an endangered fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus. Hundreds of sharks??!! Fin whale in Hawaii??!! Never heard of such things around Kona, so my buddy & I decided to go out the day before the Thannksgiving to investigate if the story was true.

As usual, we were late getting out, and went straight out to the OT buoy about 15 miles offshore. My fish finder recorded many fish in deep, so I dropped some jigs but did not get anything. And then a shark showed up... and another one...then another one. We saw three sharks but disappeared quickly into deep. From the shape of them, they looked like silky sharks.

As we throw some baits to attract sharks or whatever, a big mahi showed up by my boat. "OK. That's more like it." I rigged some bait for mahi and put in in the water. Bang! Hanapa'a! Fish on! In a few seconds, the mahi was at the horizon leaping like maniac. "He's big!!!" We could tell that for sure from the distance. He looked that big.

A couple months ago we lost a 40lb (we think!) bull mahi just before gaffing by the gunwhale because we got greedy to hook more mahi at the same time and forgot that it was on 30lb line. So this time we were determined to get this fish in. No photography.

Suddenly the mahi at the horizon disappeared and my line slacked. Oh, no... wait a minuetes the fish is coming this way straight! I screemed, "Something's chasing it! A marlin!... no a shark!" A silky shark (perhaps) was chasing after the fish trying to bite its tail. What a speed! Both fish zip by my boat and went the opposite side in a matter of seconds! Wow.

I wound my reel to recover some line but the fish kept going. All I can do was hang on. With the help of Sue's boat maneuver, after about 1 hour of good fight, we finally got him on board.

It turned out to be the biggest mahi mahi I've ever caught. It weighed about 36 lb a humongous bull mahi mahi. Wow. I was exhausted. What a fight.

Mahi mahi for everybody and I will be getting him mounted for sure!

To be continued to: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Sunset Play - The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part II.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunset Spinning Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

Hawaiian spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris longirostris, are regular residents of Kona, Big Island of Hawaii. They sleep during the day, and then, at around sunset, they wake up and go out for overnight hunting.

Interesting thing is that just before the sun set, they must do these spectacular rituals: "sunset spin-jumps" on their way to the offshore hunting ground. In Kona, most of the time, the sunset is gorgeous, so this everyday event of these resident spinner dolphins is pretty surreal and awesome to witness. Photographing them are totally another story, though. Well, it's very tough!

Hawaiian spinner dolphin, Stenella longirostris, jumping at sunset, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Shooting sunset spinners is perhaps one of the most difficult photo-shoots that I do in regular basis. The shooting is not life-threatening like shark or whale shootings, but their jumps are lightening-quick, and the locations and timings of their jumps are very much unpredictable.

Also my eyes are often blinded by the glorious golden sunlight coming through my viewfinder when I shoot against the sun. In such situations, I can only rely on my reflex, concentration and on my camera's performance. It is very difficult to even get a shot in focus! Well... that's ok. If it's easy, I would be out of business, right?

Despite such extreme difficulties, I've got some lucky shots of the sunset spinner dolphins this time! You can check out more sunset spinner shots by entering both keywords in search box: spinner sunset.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Blue! - The Giant Blue Shark of Hawaii

For the first time in Hawaii, I've got a good opportunity to work with a blue shark, Prionace glauca, underwater for a long period of time. "Blue shark, in Hawaii?" Yes, it is very rare to see a blue shark around Hawaiian waters as the shark normally prefers a lot colder water like California Coast. This was the second time for me to even see one in over a decade of boating in Hawaii. Last time I saw, it didn't stick around and I had no chance of interacting with it.

El Nino might have been something to do with the water temperature in Hawaii this year, but it was actually quite high that day, or I should say it was unusually warm for Hawaii. So, encountering a blue shark was least expected. It was a huge surprise, but of course in a good way.

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

It was a large female blue shark. At least, she was 10 foot long. I quickly rigged my camera and slipped into the water with caution. I knew that a shark of this size usually do not afraid of anything. As anticipated, she swam straight at me and bumped into my dome port. Not just once. Twice or three times in a row. She was aggressive. Persistently she tried to bite my metal housing and Yamaha outboard engines as those metal parts fooled her sensors (photo tip: you should have a shiny metal housing to attract sharks! Acrylic housings won't do!).

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Haven't seen many aggressive sharks as much as this one since I dove with a 14 foot tiger shark in Bahamas, so I've got a little scared about the situation I was in. She was overly pushy and hostile. I really felt a danger of getting bitten. I was ducking, swaying, jumping underwater as she tried to check me out from various directions. I had to fend off her using my underwater camera several times. However, the adrenaline was pumping into my body & brain, at the same time, I was exhilarated. Shark shooting is fun! It can be extremely dangerous, but brings me such excitement and thrills that cannot be replaced by anything else. It's an extreme sport.

She was one of a kind. Pointy noese, long slender but streamlined body with huge black eyes. The color of the blue was very difficult to see from the pictures, but the color had absolutely gorgeous... hues of blue with silver sparkles over it... or I should say the color was like "metallic blue" hues from light to dark on the top surface of the body. Along with that vivid blue, brilliant golden color ran both side of the body. The belly side was almost pure white that competed the perfect countershading pattern. The various toned colors of blue, gold, silver and white were glittering as Hawaii's bright sunlight hit her body. Very shiny. Breathtakingly beautiful.

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Definitely she was the largest blue shark I've ever encountered to this day. Sadly in California, nowadays it's rare to see a big one like this due to the notorious, relentless Mexican shark fishery that has been killing blue and mako sharks of all sizes by thousands each year.

While I was having great times of my life with this perfect shark, my buddy was screaming at me from the boat as she could see me struggling with the large shark, "Masa, get out of the water! You'd better think about your newborn son & wife!" Yeah, I guess she was right.

But since it was such a rare opportunity, I invited her to join me in the water with the shark, besides, I needed a human body as a model to show the size of the shark comparatively in my pictures. Well, she sincerely declined my invitation. While having a conversation with her, the shark seemed to get the idea that she won't be getting anything from me, and slowly swam away into the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Although the shark left a heck of a lot of scratches and teeth marks on my precious dome port, I was able to grab some decent shots. As you can see, they look different from those typical pictures taken in California. First of all the color of the water makes a huge difference. In California, it's usually green or greenish blue. Sometimes it gets really blue but most likely very heavy and dark, not like clear Hawaiian blue - bright and pleasant.

I'm very happy with the pictures I've got from this super exciting, extreme encounter. I was also happy with the fact that I survived to see my family again. It's rewarding to see the result of my effort!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Pictures 0910 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

I processed some old files from Tampa spearfishing trip as per client's request. I never knew the hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus, could get that big, and such a great eating! I was seasick most of the trip but was able to have good time with buddies of mine in Florida. More details are posted here: Spearfishing in Pristine Coral Reef of Gulf of Mexico.

* Please note that all recognizable people in this batch are model released. A copy of release is available upon request. Please also note that all spearfishing pictures are not available for any uses that promote anti-spearfishing campaign. They are buddies of mine who enjoy the activity very much. Thanks for understanding ;-)

New Pictures 0910 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Added a few more pictures of that beautiful pregnant spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari. See this post for more info: Spotted Eagle Ray - The Most Beautiful Thing I've Ever Seen!

Then, from Hawaii, I processed some scenic pictures for editorial market - Kealakekua Bay, the original King Kamehameha the Great statue, Pololu Valley lookout, and Kiholo Bay with Haleakala of Maui. For behind-the-scene stories for those Hawaii's scenic pictures, please look these posts respectively: Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui - Going around the Big Island - Part I, The Original King Kmehameha the Great Statue - Going around the Big Island - Part IV, Pololu Valley Lookout - Going around the Big Island Part V.

Some clients are even surprised to see those landscape pictures from me, and the fact that I actually care to shoot such subjects ;-) I like to shoot landscapes and other subjects as I travel in order to illustrate the trips. Although it's not as exciting and challenging as shooting big whales and sharks, it is rewarding to nail a stunning landscape shot when all the correct settings... light, air, clouds, sun, wind, equipment... are dialed in precisely as I wish.

I've been working on these Big Island scenery pictures as per client's request. So, more landscape pictures are on their way out in the near future. They are freshly shot, never-been-published, brand new pictures, showing the current state of the locations or objects. I hope you can find some pictures useful for your upcoming Hawaii book projects or magazine features.

Please contact me for any specific Hawaii subjects or locations. I may have some shots in my pile of pictures, or I'll go shoot them for you.

Finally I've got some Hawaiian spinner dolphin, Stenella longirostris longirostris, sunset shots. The shoot was very hard, but I've got some lucky ones! Please see this post for more info: Sunset Spinning Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Negative Ions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Going around the Big Island - Part VIII

Continued from the post: Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island - Going around the Big Island - Part VII.

We knew nothing much was going on at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at moment since the series of explosions at Halemaumau Crater in March of 2008, but decided to stop by for our friend who has never visited the park. Those explosions in 2008 shot up tons of rocks and debris all over the part of the Crater Rim Drive and destroyed the man-made, Halemaumau Overlook inside Kilauea Caldera.

rainbow over actively erupting Halemaumau Crater, releasing vog - volcanic gas, Kilauea Caldera, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

On this particular day, the vog (volcanic gas) wasn't impressively coming out from the live vent of the Halemaumau Crater, but luckily a thin layer of rain clouds created a complete rainbow over the Kilauea Caldera, making the somewhat boring landscape more interesting and pretty to photograph. The rainbow didn't stay long, and so didn't we.

Next we drove to one of my favorite sites in the park, Thurston Lava Tube. No matter how many times I visit there, I get impressed by Hawaii's own pristine, native rainforest - Hawaiian fern tree and Ohia Lehuna tree jungle. The rainforest is incredibly beautiful.

Hawaiian tree fern or hapuu, Cibotium glaucum, and Ohia Lehuna tree, Metrosideros polymorpha, tropical rainforest, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

The healthy ever-green plants create the oxygen rich air that is mixed with rain mists and drops, releasing tons of negative ions in the atmosphere. Just approaching to the site starts to make me feel good by taking more oxygen into my brain.

Negaitve ions are like natural drugs that make you feel better. Negative ions have been a big topic in Japan for decades, but not so much here in the United States. According to WebMD, the negative ions "are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy." I totally agree.

Thurston Lava Tube, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Don't you feel better when you go outside in your backyard when rains? I do. So visiting the Thurston Lava Tube is like going through a sort of powerful rejuvenation process that activates my brain and boost my energy tremendously. Even the lava tube itself is filled with the negative ions and oxygen rich air, so by reaching the end of the tunnel, I become naturally super HIGH.

I'm definitely a negative ion junkie. Totally addicted.

On this day there were misty rains that filled the woods. The atmosphere was incredible. I was exhilarated just being there among trees. What an awesome experience it was. I couldn't get enough of this wonderful natural therapy as I've been living in a dry land of Kona!

Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island
Going around the Big Island - Part VII

Continued from the post: Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna - Going around the Big Island - Part VI.

We had no time checking out the Kulaniapia Falls yesterday as we had to leave for the Kalapana lava ocean entry. Today we had plenty of time to spend here with this pretty but impressive waterfalls. I wanted to swim into the waterfall basin like those guys in Lost, but unfortunately it started raining and also found out that the water was quite chilly, so I gave up on the idea. It may have been full of leeches, too, but I regretted later.

woman tourists visiting Kulaniapia Falls, tropical rainforest jungle, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Model Released - MR#: 000102, 000103

The Kulaniapia Falls is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is not huge or famous like Akaka Falls or Hiilawe Falls of Waipio Valley, but this private waterfall still has impressive height and the amount of water. What makes this waterfall special is that it is surrounded by the very pretty tropical rainforest - palm trees, bamboos, and other exotic plants, that are pruned regularly and neatly by the owner of the place.

Kulaniapia Falls, tropical rainforest jungle, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Kulaniapia Falls, tropical rainforest jungle, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

To be continued to: Negative Ions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Going around the Big Island - Part VIII.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna
Going around the Big Island - Part VI

Continued from the post: Pololu Valley Lookout - Going around the Big Island - Part V.

After the Pololu Valley Lookout, our plan was to go to Merriman's Waimea restaurant (our favorite!) for lunch, and then, Waipio Valley Lookout, Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, etc, etc. We realized that we were running late, so we called the restaurant and found that their lunch time was over. Extremely disappointed but we were able to get some decent lunch at one of the locals' favorites, the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi. Yum!

After the long, beer-drinking lunch hour, we decided to skip the rest of the sightseeing spots and went straight to Hilo as we were afraid of missing the main event of the day - witnessing the creation of new land - the glowing lava ocean entry at Kalapana in Puna area. We drove through the Kohala Mountain Road - one of the prettiest road to drive, and arrived at the Inn at Kulaniapia Falls in Hilo, our special place to stay overnight.

As we knew we were running late, we quickly checked in, repacked our camera gears lightly and headed to Kalapana. We wanted to explore the Puna areas but it was already getting dark as the sun was about to set.

By the time we got to the Kalapana, the sun was already gone. I quickly set up my camera gears and shot a few pictures with daylight background. The enormous steam clouds, the sound of waves and explosion, and the glowing red light of the molten lava... surreal and awe-inspiring.

molten lava entering Pacific Ocean at Kalapana, creating hydromagnetic explosions and massive steam clouds, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

To be continued to: Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island - Going around the Big Island - Part VII.

Pololu Valley Lookout
Going around the Big Island - Part V

Continued from the post: The Original King Kamehameha The Great Statue - Going around the Big Island - Part IV.

After we passed the Upolu point - the North Point of the Big Island, the dry, brown grass scenery of the leeward side changes to the beautiful greenery of wet, windward side of the island. We drove around the point and passed the sleepy little towns of Hawi, and then, passed the original King Kamehameha the Great statue in Kapaau. We were now completely surrounded by jungle - the tropical rainforest. This is one of the most pretty roads to drive through on the Big Island.

At the end of the winding road, we arrived at Pololu Valley Lookout, a scenic point that you shouldn't miss. Parking, growing trees and bushes made me work harder to photograph the scenery, but still the scenery was quite pretty to look at.

Pololu Beach, Pololu Valley, North Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

I've hiked down to the valley and the beach below sometime ago with heavy camera equipment, and shot many pictures of the wet land, but have never had an opportunity to process any of the pictures I took there to this date.

The valley, waterfalls, marsh land, woods, and rocky beaches, cliffs and bluffs... all looked beautiful and impressive as well as very wild and pristine. If anybody is interested in these shots of the valley, please let me know and I'll dig in my piles.

To be continued to: Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna - Going around the Big Island - Part VI.

The Original King Kamehameha The Great Statue
Going around the Big Island - Part IV

Continued from the post: Upolu Point Wind Farm - Sustainable Green Energy - Going around the Big Island - Part III.

The next town after the Upolu Point of Hawi is Kapaau. Kapaau is a very nice little town having some good ice cream, coffee shops and nice restaurants. But the most famous thing is the original cast of the King Kamehameha the Great statue. It looks very impressive if you actually see it at the site. I will come back here on King Kamehameha Day (June 11th) as the statue will be heavily decorated with flowers, etc. Never been to but seen the cool looking King statue on some local publications before, so probably worth the trip.

the original cast of the statue of King Kamehameha the Great, Kapaau, Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii

To be continued to: Pololu Valley Lookout - Going around the Big Island - Part V.

Upolu Point Wind Farm - Sustainable Green Energy
Going around the Big Island - Part III

Continued from the post: Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill - Going around the Big Island - Part II.

After we left the impressive Temple of the Whale Hill, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, we drove farther north and stopped by at the Upolu Point Wind Farm which I've never visited to this day.

This is practically the north point - the northern tip of the Big Island and strongest wind constantly blows just like the more famous south point of the island. I wonder why there is an airport called, Upolu Airport, built here. Seriously strong, gusty wind blows here all the time. Does the wind help airplanes landing and taking off? Maybe, huh? Let me know if you are a pilot.

wind turbines, Upolu Airport Wind Farm, Uplolu Point, Hawi, North Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

I also wondered that there were plenty of wind here at the north point, but not many wind turbines were put up. Similarly, the wind farm at South Point also has marginal number of such wind turbines, and also they have been badly maintained for a long time (I haven't been there for a while, so don't actually know the current condition).

Electricity here is notoriously expensive despite we have many sustainable green energy resources like geothermal energy, exceptionally strong trade wind and scorching sun power as well as hydroelectric power- heavy rains, rivers and waterfalls on the other side of the island. How come we don't stop importing oils and use these renewable energies? We know we can do this. Hawaii has full of such resources and we have not been utilizing them at all... very frustrating.

Upolu Airport Road and wind turbines of Upolu Point Wind Farm, Hawi, North Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

To be continued to: The Original King Kamehameha the Great Statue - Going around the Big Island - Part IV.

Ancient Hawaiian Warriors' Close Combat Weapons

I had an opportunity to photograph some of the nicest display of the ancient Hawaiian warriors' close combat weapon replicas. These reconstructed weapons are very well crafted and thoughtfully designed. They can seriously damage a human being for sure. It's scary to think that if someone hit me with one of these things. Ouch!

long-handled volcanic stone club, ancient Hawaiian close combat weapon - prior to the introduction of firearms to Hawaii, warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat when fighting in battle, Hawaii, USA

tiger shark multi-tooth dagger, ancient Hawaiian close combat weapon - prior to the introduction of firearms to Hawaii, warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat when fighting in battle, Hawaii, USA

dagger with shark's tooth, an embedded tiger shark tooth will act like a burb giving , ancient Hawaiian close combat weapon - prior to the introduction of firearms to Hawaii, warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat when fighting in battle, Hawaii, USA

Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill
Going around the Big Island - Part II

Continued from the post: Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui - Going around the Big Island - Part I.

We planned to go to the Pololu Valley lookout but we side-tracked to visit Puukohola Heiau which I've never visited before. Puukohola Heiau is historically very important. Constructed in 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, this "war" temple played a crucial role to end all the war and unite all Hawaii Islands to establish his island kingdom in 1810.

woman visitor looking at park sign at Puukohola Heiau - the temple on the whale hill, the largest and last heiau constructed in 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Kawaihae, Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Model Released - MR#: 000103

Although Puukohola Heiau was the largest temple dedicated to Kamehameha I's war god, Ku, it literally means "the Temple on the Whale Hill", so it's related to the creature I love the most.  The site also features the submerged, underwater temple, called, Hale o Kapuni Heiau, dedicated to the shark gods. Whale Hill... Shark Gods... sound very interesting, don't they? I've been wanting to go there for a long time, but never had good weather when I drove by there.

Today the weather condition was pretty good - sunny and breezy. Although there are a bit of vog (volcanic gas) and clouds started creeping in, I knew the polarizing filter would elevate my photography to the commercial grade ;-)

The visitor center was well kept and had many interesting and informative displays. The Puukohola Heiau itself (ancient Hawaiian temple) was very impressive. Huge! Wonder how the hell the ancient Hawaiians moved this many big rocks up there. Many are not one-man rocks. Most are two-men, three-men and even four-men huge rocks. There also were humongous boulders, that definitely looked like requiring modern day heavy machinery to even move slightly. How did they do that? Just amazing.

massive stone structure of Puukohola Heiau - the temple on the whale hill, the largest and last heiau constructed in 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Kawaihae, Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

According to the park literature, thousands of men camped out on the hills for nearly a year to work on the massive structure. Because the heiau had to be constructed of water-worn lava rocks, it is believed that rocks came from the seaside vally of Pololu. Workers formed a human chain at least 20 miles long and transported the rocks hand to hand to the top of Puukohola. Even Kamehameha himself labored with the others at times.

Looking at those big rocks... still it's very hard to believe they built it like that.

To be continued to: Upolu Point Wind Farm - Sustainable Green Energy - Going around the Big Island - Part III.

Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui
Going around the Big Island - Part I

I was asked to shoot Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament this year but at the last moment, the deal went off for various uncontrollable reasons. Well... that was disappointing as I was looking forward to it to see and photograph some exciting fishing actions.

Regardless, my schedule was packed tightly throughout this week. A good friend of ours was visiting from Japan. Also we were looking forward to our up-coming 5th anniversary. So, we wanted to do something special, and decided to go around the island for sightseeing.

First, we stopped at a scenic spot off the highway where the island of Maui can be seen best. The Maui used to be seen easily from anywhere in the upper west side of Big Island, but nowadays it's becoming a rare event to see the Haleakala of Maui due to the heavy vog (volcanic gas - very halmful, too!).

Haleakala volcanic mountain on Maui and KiholoBay, Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Today was one of those lucky few days to see it relatively clearly. Kiholo Bay is one of the prettiest shallow bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is made of white sandy bottom with patchy coral reefs, that create the beautiful contract between deep blue ocean and the lighter turquoise, greenish-blue shallow bay.

Black lava field, dry brown grasses, and the palm tree groves around the rich people's ocean front houses add more interests to this special landscape pictures. Without a doubt, it's one of my favorite scenery on the island, and is perfect for a house/office decor use.

To be continued to: Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill - Going around the Big Island - Part II.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kona's Independence Day Fireworks - Fourth of July

My wife and I went to town to watch fireworks display in Kona for the first time.

Before even got dark, we drove around the town and scouted many locations for good angles to take pictures. After all we decided to get a location closest to the launching pad which was set up on a barge in the middle of Kailua Bay.

Good crowds were out there and everybody was having good time. Island-style live music like reggae & slack-key guitar music, ocean breeze, beer & cocktails... the town was filled with full of excitement and anticipation of a good fireworks show. We felt the buzzing energy that reminded us a bit of city lives we both grew up in.

The fireworks started on time at 8:30 pm. Kona's fireworks weren't as spectacular as those in big cities or those in Japan, but the reflections on the water and the close distance made them certainly more dramatic and memorable. It's fun to watch them always.

fireworks, Fourth of July - Independence Day, Kailua Bay, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Pictures 0907 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

Orca, orca, orca! I saw and photographed killer whales, Orcinus orca, in Hawaii!!! Wow, that's unbelievably rare. I don't know who else has even a decent picture of Hawaii's orca. Behind-the-scene story is posted here: Killer Whales in Hawaii? - Transient Orcas of Hawaii - Part IV of the Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Processed some pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, and feeding sea birds pictures from the same "epic" excursion of June 9th, 2009. Will continue to work to finish the day. An exciting blue marlin stories are posted here along with those pictures: Blue Marlin Attack! - Part II of the Epic Wildlife Encounters.

New Pictures 0907 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

On Independence Day, I went to see fireworks in town for the first time. Kona's fireworks are not anything like those in New York or Tokyo but still it was quite nice to see them up close at the water edge. A short story is here: Kona's Independence Day Fireworks - Fourth of July.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Killer Whales in Hawaii? - Transient Orcas of Hawaii
Part IV of The Epic Wildlife Encounters

Continued from the post: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Mother & Baby - Part III of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

After the brief but playful pantropical spotted dolphin encounter, we rushed home. We had so much excitement and so many wildlife actions to remember and talk about from this day... Wait a minute! It's not over yet! What could top that blue marlin attack, five mahi mahi actions, tunas, birds, etc.?

At sunset, on the dark horizon of mauka (island side), Naomi spotted something unusual. I looked out and focused my eyes on the horizon at that direction. I screamed, "Orca!!!, Orca??? the killer whales???!!!"

Wow! There were two of them! One of them had its signature long dorsal fin, which was characteristic of a large male orca. Unmistakable. It was the killer whale, Orcinus orca.

Killer whales of Hawaii are called "Transient", and believed to hunt and eat only other marine mammals like dolphins and other smaller whales, no fish at all. The transient killer whale sightings in Hawaii are extremely rare.

transient orca or killer whale, Orcinus orca, male dorsal fin - killer whale sightings in Hawaiian waters are extremely rare, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

I contacted the renowned cetacean scientist, Robin W. Baird, PhD, and found out that both are actually adult males. He said, "the one with the bent fin has an exceptionally large fin for an open ocean killer whale - other adult males documented in Hawaii have had relatively small dorsal fins (and smaller overall body size) than coastal adult male killer whales." According to Robin, it seems that "open ocean/tropical killer whales are not as strongly sexually dimorphic as are coastal animals." He also said, "we have a very small catalog of killer whales from Hawaii so we'll compare these and see if they happen to match - unlikely though as I think it is a pretty wide-ranging population."

transient orca or killer whale, Orcinus orca, male dorsal fin - killer whale sightings in Hawaiian waters are extremely rare, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

He had a scientific publication which was published in October of 2006. It was a compilation of data and information about the transient killer whales of Hawaii, titled "Killer Whale in Hawaiian Waters: Information on Population Identity and Feeding Habits." According to this paper, the last recorded encounter was in April of 2004 in Lanai! About 5 years ago! Yes, our encounter was that rare!!! How lucky my friends, Makoto and Naomi, were!

Although it was about 6:30 pm, I wanted to get a shot of them underwater somehow, which I assumed nobody had. Makoto and I quickly got ready but after a couple of blows, they dove and disappeared. I marked my GPS and we patiently waited for another 30 minutes or so, and then, we heard their blows again on the opposite side, but far away about 500 yard out. They spouted several times and then dove again. We waited another 40 minutes or so but they never showed up after that.

What an awesome day!

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Mother & Baby
Part III of The Epic Wildlife Encounters

Continued from the post: Blue Marlin Attack! - Part II of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Less than half way back to the harbor in Kona, we found our selves surrounded by large pod of pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata.

The sun was low with some clouds, but we were able to snap some shots as the dolphins were playful at this time. This was the first spotted dolphin encounter for my friends, Makoto and Naomi, during their stay, so all worked out pretty good for a short period of time.

pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, mother and baby jumping out of boat wake, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

To be continued to: Killer Whales in Hawaii? - Transient Orcas of Hawaii - Part IV of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Blue Marlin Attack!
Part II of The Epic Wildlife Encounters

Continued from the post: Mahi Mahi Extravaganza! - Part I of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

After about two hours of swimming and fishing actions, we already had loads of excitement and adrenaline rush to be emotionally and physically drained. However, this was the last day my friends from Tokyo, Makoto & Naomi, could go out as they were leaving tomorrow, so I was determined to take them out as far as I could. In addition, Makoto wanted to see oceanic whitetip sharks, Carcharhinus longimanus, so we continued to look for them everywhere.

Without much success in finding oceanic whitetip sharks, we arrived at the next buoy. The buoy seemed to be holding some fish from the look of sea birds and other fishermen.

sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus = Sterna fuscata, and wedge-tailed shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, feeding on bait fish driven to the surface by attacking skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis, underwater, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

And then, we saw fish breaking the surface and sea birds started diving down. Here we go! Feeding frenzy started. We trolled through the birds pile and my Penn reel immediately screamed as a fish devoured my lure. Hanapa'a! It was a fairly big skipjack tuna or aku in Hawaiian, Katsuwonus pelamis, - a good eating fish if you prepare it right.

We wanted to catch much better eating yellowfin or bigeye tunas, but we weren't interested in catching any more aku, so we moved out to the next FAD in search of the oceanic whitetip shark and other better-eating tunas.

At the third FAD of the day, my fish finder was locating lots of fish at 80-250 feet. The very first drop of my jig hooked a nice size bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus. Now we had enough fish for ourselves, but we still wanted to see the shark.

Our time was running out for the day but we decided to check out one more FAD located 6 miles down south. We arrived there late afternoon and soon picked up a decent size skipjack tuna. Then, an  unthinkable thing happened. As I reeled in my skipjack, a humongous blackish object with flashy neon blue lines showed up under our boat, and swam straight for my fish on line in a lightening speed! "Billfish!", so I screamed. And then, I screamed again, "it's a blue!!!" Yes, it was a huge blue marlin, Makaira nigricans.

I moved my little tuna swiftly away from the bill but the hungry monster fish relentlessly attempted to attack the tuna right by my boat's gunwale! This marlin was fairly big - about 12 - 14 feet in length, weighing...who knows but easily 300-400 lb or maybe more. The body was lit by its hunting, fighting color - neon blue.

It was so fascinating to watch such a big fish being able to move that fast! Literally lightening fast! The size, speed, outrageous color, and its determination as an apex predator... impressive. The event was crazy, frenzy and surrealistic but all of us witnessed the animal's stunning beauty and overwhelming power.

blue marlin, Makaira nigricans, off Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

It was an awe-inspiring, humbling experience to see a marlin hunting the prey like that. The poor tuna was totally freaked out. The attack of the marlin was brutal and merciless... Wow!

It was a scary sight, too, but I realized this to be the once in a life time opportunity to photograph blue marline hunting behavior, so I started scrambling around the boat to get ready for the action.

I handed the fishing rod and the "bait" to Naomi, and specifically told her NOT to feed the marlin. Makoto and I hurried up to get in the water to photograph. And then suddenly with one burst of the loud noise and huge splash, the marlin gobbled the bait in one bite, leaping out of the water, and snatched it off my puny 50lb line. Holy cow!

The game was over as quickly as it started. I was extremely disappointed in not getting any pictures of this event, but at the same time I felt a bit of relief because I didn't have to get in the water with the angry marlin!

The marlin did not only scared us but also scared other fish in the entire visinity, so the fishing was so over there, too. Now we were completely drained by the event. We decided to give up on the shark, and headed home. The sun was setting but we still had 30 miles to go.

To be continued to: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Mother & Baby - Part II of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Mahi Mahi Extravaganza!
Part I of The Epic Wildlife Encounters

June 9th, 2009. This day should be marked as one of the most memorable wildlife excursions in my life. My fiends, Makoto, Naomi and I started late this morning as we did manta ray dive last night. We cruised straight to the first FAD to make up the time loss from our late start. No fishing boats were around. Yep, that was usually a bad sign. However, from my experience, I know sometimes I get lucky.

As we approached the buoy, we saw several mahi mahi hanging around. We successfully shot HD video and captured stills, and then picked up five of them! More than enough for our dinner as well as our friends' and families' dinner!

mahi-mahi, dorado, or common dolphin-fish, Coryphaena hippurus, adult bull, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Mahi mahi is such a good eating fish as well as photogenic. To tell you the truth, it is very hard for me to photograph mahi mahi seriously, because I become an excited fishermen when I see a mahi mahi and usually forget about photography. My good clients like Sport Fishing Magazine always ask me to supply more pictures of fishing actions, mahi mahi, wahoo & tuna pictures from Hawaii, but I've been failing to do so. If you are a fisherman, you'll understand. Fishing is just too exciting and too important for a man!

mahi-mahi, dorado, or common dolphin-fish, Coryphaena hippurus, adult bull, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Well... this time we had plenty of mahi mahi in our cooler, so we decided to photograph them. Mahi mahi is such a beautiful fish! When they are hunting, the neon blue color dominates their body. When they bite something or are hooked, their flashy greenish golden color takes over their entire body in the blink of an eye.

While we were having fun catching them, we were soon discovered by other fishing boats nearby. Mahi mahi could not help leaping out of the water numerous times, and could be easily seen by others who were located a few miles away. Mahi mahi bites were disrupted by arrival of bigger boats, so we left the scene totally satisfied with everything we've got.

To be continued to: Blue Marlin Attack! - Part II of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Steve Drogin Memorial Service

Steve Drogin's memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 29th at The Robert Paine Scripps Center for Oceanography at Scripps Institute in La Jolla, San Diego, California.

If you would like to write to his beloved wife, Hiro or his family, please send your message to his son, Mike Drogin, or to Hiro at home: Hiro Drogin, 5410 Pacifica Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037.

Mike and Hiro also told me that if you live in Kona and would like to do something for them, instead of sending flowers to San Diego, please make a donation on behalf of Steve Drogin payable to: Holualoa Foundation For Arts & Culture, and let them know that you made a donation to them. 

I know that Steve put a lot of his effort and funds into this local charity for people of Kona to promote art & humanity in this small community, so I'm sure he'll be pleased if you make a donation to them.

If you have any questions, please contact me.  Thanks.

Masa Ushioda

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wildlife Photographer Steve Drogin Passes Away

The day started out with a bad news in the morning. My wife broke her heels at work, and asked me to bring another pair. I don't know in the US, but in Japan, traditionally breaking shoes is considered as a serious bad luck, a sure sign of something bad to happen - usually someone very close gets hurt or even dies.

Wildlife photographer Steve Drogin and his wife Hiro along with photographer, Masa Ushioda, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Just as I left my house to deliver another pair of heels to my wife, my friend Susan called and told me that Steve Drogin died of a heart attack in India. I was shocked and couldn't believe such bad news as I was just talking to him a couple days ago via emails.

In his messages he said he's been having a fantastic time in India with Hiro despite the unbearable heat. He sent me a lot of Elephant Festival pictures, too. We were also talking about making a trip together to Cocos Islands for hammerhead shark shooting, etc. as I was telling him about my recent hammerhead shark encounters in Kona.

Wildlife photographer Steve Drogin and Masa Ushioda, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

My wife is also a good friend of Steve's wife, Hiro, so she immediately called her cell phone but got no answers.

He was a great man, a successful business man, an excellent photographer, an awesome family man, a caring husband to Hiro. I spent a lot of time with him on my boat, so it is very sad to see another one of my boat buddies go so soon after Jim Watt.

To me he was a good promoter and motivator as well as a good friend. Whenever he's around town, we got together and had dinner together talking about his next adventures and photography. He always encouraged me to meet more people and to go to more photo trips.

He left me a big photography to-do list and now I will have to do it without him or his help. I'll miss you, Steve.

Masa Ushioda

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Pictures 0904 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

I had a good encounter with rough-toothed dolphins, Steno bredanensis, on the other day. It was the day I've been waiting for a long time. I was able to spend hours hanging out with those magical friendly dolphins. Complete behind-the-scene story is posted here: Rough-toothed Dolphin Echolocation - I Was Scanned Thoroughly!

Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, are from this season. Actually all from a single breaching day!  The color pattern of the young humpback whale was very interesting like pinstripes. Never seen anything like it before. Breaching story on the rough day at ocean is posted here: Humpback Whale in Pinstripes Breaching.

New Pictures 0904 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rough-toothed Dolphin Echolocation - I Was Scanned Thoroughly!

For over a decade, I've searched for a good opportunity to shoot the rough-toothed dolphin, Steno bredanensis. The rough-toothed dolphin is not common but one of the four species of dolphins that are regularly found off the chain of Hawaiian Islands.

Particularly in Hawaii, they usually make a tight pod of ten to thirty dolphins. That is very small compared to Hawaiian spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris longirostris, and pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, which can make up a pod of fifty to a few hundred dolphins easily.

rough-toothed dolphin, Steno bredanensis, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

They also look somewhat weird if you are used to seeing common dolphins like bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in captivity. Their melon-heads are not protruding as much, and actually have no distinctive ledges or recesses to separate them from the beaks, that give them impression of large elongated beaks. Their genus name, Steno, means "narrow" in Greek and refers to the conical slender nose which characterize this species.

Their dorsal fins are relatively larger and taller and look more like shark fins in the field of the ocean. They also have rather peculiar gray to black coloration and patterns. Adults have more distinctively black & white colorations, many are blotchy around their bellies.  They also develop white lips and usually marked by numerous cookiecutter shark, Isistius brasiliensis, bite wounds and battle scars.

rough-toothed dolphins, Steno bredanensis, mother and calf, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

They are much harder to find compared to other dolphins in Hawaii. They are small, but highly intelligent. Fishermen don't like them at all because they "steal" their catches off their fishhooks without getting themselves hooked. Usually when rough-toothed dolphins show up, fishing is over. Hawaii's fishermen have many tricks to deal with sharks which also steal their catches, but rough-toothed dolphins usually outsmart fishermen.

I've had fair shares of encounters with them in the past, but never had a decent opportunity to satisfy my appetite for good photography until this day. It was a calm beautiful day, but it seemed like one of those days that dolphins were occupying the fishing ground and most of fishing boats started leaving as they were giving up on fishing.

I didn't want to engage in an intense tag of wars with dolphins, either, so instead, I decided to check out dolphins and fish underwater.

rough-toothed dolphin, Steno bredanensis, analyzing the photographer by using impulse-type (click-type) sonar for precise echolocation and imaging, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

As soon as I entered in the water, those dolphins came by to investigate me at very close range. I was totally surprised at that because they normally stay away from divers, just far enough not to get their pictures taken. They totally behaved differently on this day. Maybe they were bored and needed to something to do, or full and sleepy.... in any case, they were in a right mood to play with me and  was a golden opportunity to photograph.

As soon as the dolphins discovered me, they got very busy scanning me from the top of my head to the tip of my diving fin. They were using the impulse-type sonar so I can hear the loud clicking sound clearly, and actually I can feel it on my body underwater as they were buzzing me around from 5 to 10 feet away.

I don't know how many times I was scanned, but they must have echolocated and examined every content of my body, and perhaps learned what I ate for lunch on that day.

The encounter lasted about one hour or so until I got tired of swimming. Sometimes I followed them, but  most of the time they followed me around. It was simply amazing, and I'm very pleased with resulting pictures I've got.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Humpback Whale in Pinstripes Breaching

It's already March and seemed like the whale season was ending soon. Conditions have not been great but I needed to go out, so I took out Lynn as my boat buddy today for a day of whale watching. Well... I took her on a wrong day. She was prone to get seasick easily. Uh-oh.

It was sunny but windy and rough in addition to large swells. I knew it could be a quick whale watching as the condition like these would make photography very difficult, but I also knew from my experience whales liked to breach into wind and swells.

By the time we got to the whale-watching ground, the condition was already treacherous for us to go any further. Wind was gusting and white caps were everywhere. We were climbing up and sliding down the huge swells. Then, luckily we spotted a spectacular breach nearby in a reachable distance.

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, breaching, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

The whale was gone crazy and kept breaching... maybe twenty times or more in a row, in between, she did some impressive peduncle throws. The situation was very difficult for us to follow the actions at the whale's speed as she was moving and breaching into the wind. Besides, our cameras were getting covered with saltwater sprays every time we bumped into large swells and waves.

Despite the condition, I was having great time nailing some spectacular breaches. Then, I started to notice the whale's special features. This whale had very interesting coloration that I've never seen before. She was relatively small, perhaps a young adult, but her body was predominantly gray colored which was typical for a new born baby but very unusual for an adult humpbacks of Hawaii.

In addition, she had very unique but clear black and white throat pleats that stood out every time she breached. The precise pattern was like an elaborately drawn pinstripe design. Beautiful!

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, displaying aggressive caudal peduncle throw behavior, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

As I was having the best time of my life, Lynn was in the hell of her life. She's got seasick and looked pretty bad. She was in a terrible shape, and started throwing up over the gunwale. While the whale kept breaching, we left the scene having enough pictures for the day... well, at least I did, sorry Lynn.