Monday, October 19, 2020

What is a Honu?

What is a Honu?

By Dominic S. Romer

Dive Master with Kohala Divers

You’ll see postcards and tee shirts, mugs and candy bars, signage and

paintings all over the islands...the honu is one of the predominant symbols

of Hawaii.

Honu Stuffed animal in Kohala Divers  hoody

A honu is a Green Sea Turtle and this species ( Chelonia mydas ) is the

most common turtle you will see when you visit us in Hawaii. They have

come to symbolize endurance, long life & good luck.

Sea turtles are protected by law and so, remember to not harass or bother

any turtles that you are lucky enough to observe, either in the water or on


Hawaii is one of the few populated places (especially the Kona - Kohala

coast of the Big Island) where these turtles like to bask on the beaches and

so, you will often see several turtles sunning themselves along the


The adults are herbivores that live on seagrass and algae (limu) and you

can often find them resting underwater, on ledges or in caves. While they

are reptiles and need to breathe air just like us, they can “sleep”

underwater for up to 2 hours without surfacing! If you do spook one by

accident, you’ll see them shoot away at up to 20mph!

Most of the nesting beaches for these turtles are in the Northwestern

Hawaiian islands, away from the main centers of population. As with other

types of marine turtles, the females will come onto land to lay their eggs (up

to 100 at a time) in a deep pit which they will dig under the cover of

darkness. About 2 months later, the juveniles will dig their way out & make

their way to the sea, living primarily (as omnivores) on jellyfish for the first

few years of their lives.

These turtles can reach a weight of 300-400 lbs and a length of 3-4ft..

While they can have some algae on their shells (carapace) giving them a

greenish hue, these turtles actually get their name from the green color of

their fat. While we are still learning much about the honu lifecycle, it’s

believed they can live to be over 100 years old (and they take 20-50 years

to reach sexual maturity).

Threats to these turtles include their natural predators tiger sharks but, they

are suffering from more modern problems these days such as loss of

secluded beaches for nesting (due to coastal development) and ingestion

of plastics (how easily a discarded plastic bag or deflated balloon could

appear like food to a hungry young honu, scouring the open ocean for

jellyfish). Our oceans are also full of fishing gear, a major risk to turtles who

can drown in nets. Some honu are suffering from a herpes type disease

(fibropapillomatosis) which causes tumors to grow on their bodies.

Scientists are trying to find out what causes this disease - which can impact

the foraging & digestive abilities of the honu - but it’s thought to have

something to do with the overall degradation of their marine habitat.

Other turtles that can be observed in Hawaii include the Hawksbill and less

frequently seen leatherback, olive ridley and loggerhead turtles.

The honu of the Big Island look forward to making your acquaintance!

Book a snorkel or dive trip with Kohala Divers to go to areas where Hawaiian Green Sea turtles are often encountered! Book Now! 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Welcome Back

 Welcome Back

Written by:  Rebekah Kaufmann

Owner operator Kohala Divers

Kohala Divers is cautiously optimistic about welcoming visitors back in a couple of weeks. So far the state of Hawaii is saying as of October 15th 2020 it will allow visitors to travel to Hawaii, present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of flight and avoid a 2 week quarantine. Airlines are beginning to present testing options that can take place at the airport. 

2020 So Far

2020 has not been easy on anyone. Mother nature rang in 2020 with crashing surf that destroyed the break wall in the North Kawaihae harbor in early January. Kawaihae North is home to Namaka, our brand new beautiful Newton dive boat. Thanks to our swift and capable crew she was spared damage and safely relocated until the storm receded. Unfortunately the damage the storm did to the 30 year old dock was more than could be repaired and it was condemned by the state and removed. 

Namaka was able to get temporary mooring in Kawaihae South and we made it work logistically for the beginning of the year. Our time was limited there and we had to be creative to come up with a solution if we wanted to operate going forward. Then, Covid came to the worlds attention and Hawaii was put on lockdown to protect the fragile healthcare system and get a plan together. 

We have used our time being mostly shut down to reevaluate everything. It gave us time to reflect on what's really important, what is worth fighting for and why we do what we do. 

I've realized Kohala Divers is more than a business to me. It is a passion. A passion for the people I've met and been lucky enough to call dive buddies for the last 20 years. A passion for the Kohala Divers team that is ever evolving, but has felt like family throughout the years! A passion for the high fives and  celebration of newly certified divers coming through the PADI system with us to discover their new favorite adventures! The Kohala Coast is where I feel the most connected to and I can't imagine feeling as fulfilled in any other corner of the world. 

The challenges we are up against getting through 2020 are many! Finding the laser focus needed to get through them is challenging. For me realizing why I do what I do has provided the strength needed in taking on each new challenge the year brings. Instead of giving up we decided to get even better!

Where we are Now- The Shop

We used our down time to do a remodel to the dive shop. We had always dreamt of a new layout and design  but couldn't imagine being able to have the time or ability to work around regular operations. The hard work put in by Greg, Brent and Tyler made the results better than I'd ever imagined. 

The new and improved shop is just what we needed to welcome our guests back in an environment that is easy to socially distance and keep clean. 

Other improvements for the shop:

  • We have improved technology and offer touchless payment options. 
  • Liability release waivers that can be done on your own device
  • Newly expanded gear sanitation area
  • Large PADI training area in open air
  • Extra cleaning throughout the day of high touch surfaces
  • As always private pool with lots of room to spread out
  • Selection of PPE masks available for sale that are comfortable breathable and show Aloha

Where we are Now- The Boat

Namaka is back in the North Kawaihae basin. We are tying up at the same spot as before and bringing her over to the finger pier to pick up guests. 

It's easy for you to get on board and we are happy be to home in the North!! 

Once on board we've set social distancing practices into place such as:

  • Masks on when not in dive gear
  • Space between each dive group set up
  • Operating at half of our COI (certificate of inspection allowed passengers) 
  • Individually sealed snacks
  • Hand sanitizer on board
  • Temperature checks daily for crew and guests
  • Extra cleaning of high touch spaces

We know there is a long ways to go for all of us to feel like we've fully achieved a new normal. We are hopeful that new travel options will slowly open paths for all of us to enjoy what divers enjoy most, getting to our favorite dive locations!. We want you to know that we are ready to welcome you back in the safest way possible when it is right for you! 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Learn about the Crown-of-Thorns Star

The crown of thorn Starfish are found on nearly every site we visit on the Kohala Coast. Divers often ask us after a dive "What was that cactus looking thing" or "was that a weed on the coral?" Read on for some info on these interesting invertebrates. 

By  Dominic S. Romer

Dive Master

While enjoying the reefs of Hawaii and all their marine life, spare a thought

for the corals on today’s menu!

The diner is Acanthaster planci , Crown-of-Thorns star (COTS) and his

favorite meal is coral polyps, especially those of Pocillopora meandrina

(Cauliflower coral).

The body is disc-shaped, up to 18” across, with as many as 21 arms, it’s

usually red/green in color and the whole thing is covered in venomous

spines. Don’t get too close...many divers will tell you of their discomfort

having inadvertently got too friendly with this star (burning pain, numbness

and possible discoloration of the area for a couple of days)!

They are impressive creatures, using all of those arms to climb atop coral

colonies where they then extrude their stomachs and secrete enzymes to

liquify & digest individual coral polyps. Just the white coral skeletons

remain, when they absorb the available nutrients and move on. True horror

movie stuff!

While these stars have wreaked havoc on some reefs around the world

(including the Great Barrier reef), here in Hawaii we don’t appear to have a

big issue with them yet and usually, one won’t see more than a few at any

one site. In places where they have become a real issue, divers can

physically remove the creatures or inject them with household vinegar to kill

them...although either option is time consuming & costly.

There are some in Hawaii who believe that this predator may in fact be

doing some good for the reef, feeding on some of the faster growing corals

(such as Cauliflower & Rice corals) and increasing coral diversity on

Hawaiian reefs.

In Hawaii, their main natural predator is the Triton’s Trumpet snail; also

Harlequin Shrimp, Stripebelly Pufferfish and Lined Fireworms will feast on

this star.

We hope you will get a chance to observe this impressive star, when diving

with us at Kohala Divers in Hawaii!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Divers Who Defog: Your Glasses!

Is this you?!?! Do you exhale in your socially-distant mask and fog your glasses? Well, the people who de-fog your scuba mask have some advice:

1) Start with a clean pair of glasses. This goes for your scuba mask, too! Use your dish soap: It is a fabulous de-greaser! Clean both inside and outside lenses, nose-piece, ear wands... all of it. Leave to dry or dry with a soft micro-fiber cloth.

2) A close fitting nose piece on your mask will reduce the fog exiting the top of the mask onto your glasses. Re-bend your nose wire (if it has), use a buff, situate it a little lower on your nose bridge (but still wear it properly! Cover those nostrils!)

3) When I know I will spend all day in glasses/mask combo, I clean my glasses that morning!

4) Our goggle/eyewear defog spray is made for this purpose: Spray both sides and clean dry with a cloth. DO NOT USE concentrated scuba defog, meant to be used with water! Check the print on your defog: Goggle defog is already watered down for use that close to the eyeball.

5) Hey! While you are at it, get your scuba mask out and give it a clean! Use that same dish soap! Then allow to dry and store in it's box. If you have a neoprene mask strap, remove it from the mask while in storage: Neoprene off-gasses and discolors silicone mask skirts. We will be back using that spotless and non-discolored scuba mask in no time at all! Promise!