Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Pictures 1004 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

Oceanic whitetip sharks, Carcharhinus longimanus, are from one of the best encounters I've ever had in the past. On that day my partner and I encountered a pod of short-finned pilot whales, Globicephala macrorhynchus, five oceanic whitetip sharks, and then one humongous blue marlin, Makaira nigricans or Makaira mazara! Short stories are posted here respectively: Short-finned Pilot Whale Silhouettes of Kona Coast of Hawaii, Five Oceanic Whitetip Sharks of Kona Coast of Hawaii, and One Humongous Blue Marlin of Kona Coast of Hawaii.

Kiholo Bay and Maui shots are from this post: Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui - Going around the Big Island - Part I. The panorama shot was made of three pictures - stitched together in Photoshop Photo Merge. I wasn't happy with the result but the technique has such potential to make a seriously high quality landscape pictures which may exceed the quality of a medium format cameras.

New Pictures 1004 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Next I processed humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, surface actions, including fluking (fluke-up dive), head breaches, tail breaches (peduncle throw), etc. from a single good whale watching day.

Sad thing is that I would no longer be able to take crystal clear shots of those exciting whale surface actions. At least, not any time soon. The Kilauea volcano has been very active in recent years, and the heavy VOG (volcanic smog) has been roaming around leeward side of the island most of the time.

Vog is a type of air pollution, so the smog obscures everything including photographs. More importantly the polluted air causes major effect on human health. For example, unfortunately I had to become a casual inhaler user. Please read more on VOG and humpback whales in this post: Humpback Whales in VOG - Volcanic Smog.

Finally I added some gorgeously colored mahi mahi, Coryphaena hippurus, pictures including both bulls and cows (a bull is a male fish and has a square head and usually bigger and tougher). A few FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) and other fishing related pictures are included here, too, as Hawaii's mahi mahis are typically found at those offshore FADs.

I love mahi mahi in many ways. First of all, I love to fish them. They are one of the most acrobatic fish, so fishing on light tackle is very exciting. Second, I love to swim with them as they look great underwater. They change colors frequently. The sparkling neon blue to the glittering golden color are simply stunning to look at underwater as well as on the pictures. Third, I love to eat them. They are the one of the best fish to eat in the world. In my opinion, their market value is very under rated. For more details on mahi mahi actions, please read this post: Mahi Mahi Extravaganza! - Part I of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Humpback Whale Pictures - Stock Photo Gallery Update

The humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, is one of the most exciting subjects that I love to take pictures of.  Humpbacks are huge, acrobatic and often friendly. Photographing them is very challenging, difficult and dangerous in many cases, but it is all worth my sweat & effort when I nail a good breaching shot or when they approach me and allow me to take a picture or two underwater. It is truly rewarding.

Visit Humpback Whale Pictures - Stock Photo Gallery

Wildlife photography is about patience and concentration. My way of shooting humpback whales is very passive. I just wait all day for things to happen. It's all up to them.

Humpback Whale Pictures - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Sometimes they breach out of water 30 times in a row, and the other day they decide to sleep all day. They are usually very shy but occasionally there are those individuals which seek human encounters eagerly. Humpback whales are incredibly intelligent animals like us humans.

I've been taking pictures of them for over a decade now, and I gathered a handful of my best work here to celebrate this magnificent creature.

I will be frequently updating this humpback whale picture gallery in the future, so don't forget to come back to check it out. I would like you to enjoy the beauty of the animal, hoping that my pictures inspire you to help protecting this spectacular animal species on our planet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tragedy on Hawaii's Reef Fish
A Tribute to 551 Dead Yellow Tangs and 59 Reef Fishes

"Tropical Fish Dump Prompts Outrage - More than 600 fish found dumped at harbor"
This tragic story was on the cover of our local newspaper, "West Hawaii Today". A photo of hundreds of dead yellow tangs, Zebrasoma flavescens, and other reef fish like butterfly fishes was just too shocking to see, and too hard to comprehend why.

I don't think the commercial fish collecting is a sustainable business unless it is strictly regulated and actively monitored.

As you can see here, professional fish collectors can easily catch a lot of them, and can be careless and irresponsible about the environment. It is infuriating as well as very sad to see the thing like this actually happened here. No wonder most of pretty reef fish around Kona hate divers and quickly flee from them.

Yellow tangs are usually the first to leave cleaning turtle when divers approach, so the shot like this is becoming a historical event in these days. Due to the relentless yellow tang hunting, their DNA has already been altered to avoid humans at all cost. Pretty soon we'll only have gold-ring surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, at turtle cleaning station because they are abundant and friendly because they have not been hunted by fish collectors due to their low market value.

endangered green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, being cleaned by yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, gold-ring surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, and endemic saddle wrasse, Thalassoma duperrey, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Our reef fishes are disappearing fast due to the persistent, thoughtless fish collecting. It's a fact that any diver or snorkeler can see and confirm. Have you notice how timid and shy our reef fishes are when you approach compared to else where? They are afraid of you. Have you notice how little reef fish we have around Kona when compared to officially protected areas such as the Kealakekua Bay or compared to reefs on other Islands like Maui or Oahu?

Even very fist time I dove around Kona more than a decade ago, I noticed the small amount of fish as well as their timidity and diffidence. "Why there is no fish in this pretty coral reef?" "Why fish is so afraid of me?" Those are the very first questions I asked my dive operator back then, and nothing has changed or even addressed until today.

endangered green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, being cleaned by yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, and gold-ring surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

We have a thriving scuba diving industry, and Kona is usually ranked pretty high among the best dive destinations in the world. To me diving in Kona is overrated because of the poor fish count and their fleeing behavior.

It's a shame that the goverment and we cannot stop such devastating, anti-environmental business activity. I think it's time to ban the unsustainable fish collecting activity before our fish really extinct from this precious and unique Hawaiian coral reef.

Existence of a lot more colorful, friendly reef fish should promote healthy reefs and benefit everybody. Eventually the abundance of pretty reef fish will raise more big fish and drive more fishermen, divers and snorkelers to this island. I thought we learned the lessen from the past like whale watching makes more sense than whale hunting.

Why don't we develop and promote a new sustainable business to raise pretty aquarium fish like yellow tangs in a fish farm at NELHA (Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority? We can even replenish the reef after we raise enough for aquarists. That'll be a win-win situation. No brainer, don't you think?

Very sad day in Kona...

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Pictures 1001 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

New pictures are added to our online library. Very rare shots are those blue shark, Prionace glauca,  pictures. The blue shark is a rare species to see in Hawaii as it normally prefers much colder water. This 10 foot big female was the second one I've ever encountered in a decade of boating in Kona. As she had nothing to afraid, she left many scars on my underwater camera's dome lens :-(

It was a full grown female blue shark, completed with many bite marks from other sharks perhaps due to its violent mating rituals. A blue shark in crystal clear Hawaiian blue water! That's something different, isn't it? Besides, this particular shark was unbelievably beautiful. She had huge black eyes, pointy snout, streamlined slender body covered with blue and silver sparkles. It is very difficult to show those sparkling colors in a photo, but still the resulting pictures are of exceptional quality. Certainly different from those common blue shark pictures with green or dark blue water background shot in California or North Atlantic Ocean. Complete behind-the-scene story is posted here: Big Blue! - The Giant Blue Shark of Hawaii.

New Pictures 1001 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Next, this curious, young humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, found my boat floating and stayed under the boat for more than 10 minutes. I don't know how this happened but I thank Wyland for this.

Humpback whales are very intelligent and inquisitive. I also got some good head-lunging, breaching, fluke-up dive pictures from the same day! Lucky me! Please read this post for more info on that day: Inquisitive and Curious - Wyland's Humpback Whale.

Finally I was able to get some really good pantropical spotted dolphin, Stenella attenuata, pictures at sunset. As the sun was setting, dolphins jumped all over my boat under the luminous purplish light. It was a quite site to see. More on this story, look here: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Sunset Play.

There is one good editorial ID shot comparing common two species of tuna in Hawaii: yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. You can learn the differences in this post: Shibi - Yellowfin Tuna or Bigeye Tuna?

Following the last submission, I processed a lot more landscape pictures of the Big Island scenery.  For the first time I visited the massive Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site which has been well kept and run by the National Park Service. More detailed info and story are found in this post: Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill - Going around the Big Island - Parrt II.

Next stop was the Big Island's norh point, Upolu Point. I photographed Upolu Point Wind Farm. The story is in this post: Upolu Point Find Farm - Sustainable Green Energy - Going around the Big Island - Part III.

The rest of the Big Island scenery is from Hilo side. I took a friend of ours to see a molten lava again at the Kalapana lava ocean entry (now it's gone!), stayed at a special place, Inn at Kulaniapia Falls to celebrate our 5th anniversary, and then the next morning we stopped by at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visiting a few main attractive spots in the park. Please see these respective posts for behind-the-scene stories: Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna - Going around the Big Island - Part VI, Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island - Going around the Big Island - Part VII, Negative Ions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Going around the Big Island Part VIII.

Lastly I shot some photos of ancient Hawaiian warrior weapons which were made of shark teeth, Hawaiian hard wood and lava rocks. The craftsmanship of those weapons are incredible, but can you imagine if you are struck by one of those? Ouch! More details are here: Ancient Hawaiian Warriors' Close Combat Weapons.