A Darker View

A bit of video put together from the clips I recorded at Kilauea Caldera this morning. The video was shot with a Canon 6D and a Televue 76mm telescope. It really does not do justice to the image through the ‘scope with a mark I eyeball. But it will have to do.

The soundtrack was mostly wind noise and random comments from the crowd of people watching the spectacle. Very faintly you can hear some of the noises from the lava, but only in spots. Instead of this annoyance I just threw a copy of Fireworks Music in place of the mic noise, much better.

Lava Lake at Halemaʻumaʻu from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo.

I have plenty of video from this morning, but no time to post it yet. What I do have is a video from last night taken by my friend Dan Birchall. Yes the same Dan who got the four laser timelapse I wish I had gotten. Apparently we missed each other at the overlook by just a few minutes!

It was worth the predawn dive across the island!

Up well before 3am and on the road. Blitz across Saddle Road, through Hilo and up to the volcano. I expected a small crowd at that time in the morning, what I found was a mite more than that. The parking lot was nearly full, I was lucky to get a spot as someone else was pulling out. Several hundred folks were already on the terrace at the HVO Jagger Museum. No surprise, it was a beautiful view of a lava lake with small fountains along the edge. I did have an advantage over most of the crowd, I brought a small telescope.

I will put in a better write-up later when I get a chance to process the photos. In the meantime one quick process..

Halemaʻumaʻu Lava Lake

The lava lake at Halemaʻumaʻu on the morning of April 27, 2015

Mamane and Mauna Loa

The remains of an ancient mamane with a snow covered Mauna Loa behind

Yellow-spotted Guard Crab

A yellow-spotted guard crab (Trapezia flavopunctata) in cauliflower coral

An impassioned argument is one thing. I realize that tempers can flare and some people may say things that they might otherwise not say. But strong emotion can also reveal the truth behind the facade that we all maintain. What is revealed under stress can be our finest or our worst.

Iona Facebook Post

A Facebook posting full of obscenity and threats.

I have seen several Facebook posts that threaten violence to telescope supporters, and have received reports of threats from others who work on the mountain. Sometimes it just crosses the line. This is the case with one prominent individual opposing the construction of TMT…

My thanks to Ian Lind for covering this on his blog as well as posting the response from the Mauna Kea Hui. Sorry, this sort of behavior must be called out and condemned by those on both sides of the discussion.

A lot of emotion and bandwidth has been swirling around our mountain this past month. It has been unfortunate that two otherwise positive forces have collided atop one summit. Last night the local community had a chance to listen to various perspectives in a more personal and reasoned forum. The Honokaʻa Peoples Theater, located on the slopes of Mauna Kea is the perfect place for this to happen. An evening of face to face discussion.

Hāwane Rios

Hāwane Rios addresses the audience at the Honokaʻa People’s Theater

While the issues surrounding Mauna Kea have captured international attention, this conversation was all the more powerful as it was limited to those of us who live and work on this mountain, many from families who have lived for generations in the mountain’s shadow. The conversation was all the more impressive in that it was conducted in the full spirit of aloha… There was no yelling, no waving signs, just respectful listening.

The format was simple, a presentation by Hāwane Rios, explaining her perspective on growing up in the traditions of Mauna Kea. This was followed by a presentation by Doug Simons, executive director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. After a 15 minute intermission there was another hour of panel discussion with questions provided by the audience. What started at 6pm went on until well after nine, with personal conversations that kept the theater a buzz until well after 11pm.

Unfortunately one of the featured speakers Lanakila Mangauli was unable to attend, having flown to Oahu for a hasty meeting with OHA and state officials. He was not completely absent, a Skype connection projected on the theater screen allowed him to give a short presentation at the start. After having watched video of his tirade (Yes, I will call it that!) at the TMT groundbreaking ceremony, I had been given a somewhat less than flattering opinion of him. The person who addressed the audience this night was much more impressive, giving an intelligent and reasoned argument to his cause. I wish he had been able to address the audience in person.

Panel Discussion

Doug Simons, Hāwane Rios, and Ruth Aloua participate in Perspectives on the Future of Mauna Kea, Apr 24th, 2015

Thus it was up to Hāwane Rios to present the traditional and cultural perspective, a role she filled spectacularly well. She relater her personal relationship with the mountain, whom she considers part of her family. Impressing upon the audience the importance of place, the importance of continuity to the culture. Her discussion was interspersed with song, chants composed in traditional form and a notable song with a more modern flair. I could attempt to describe her presentation further, but I do it no justice, I suggest you watch the video.

Doug Simons also related his personal connection to the mountain, having spent the last 30 years working, hunting and raising his family here in Waimea and on Mauna Kea. Starting with the great discoveries that have been accomplished by the telescopes atop Mauna Kea, Doug did an admirable job of covering the importance of the research done at the telescopes and why these great instruments belong to all of mankind.

Technical Crew

A plethora of computers illuminate the technical crew at Perspectives on the Future of Mauna Kea

The question and answer went smoothly, no real surprises in the questions or the answers. Asked of the future of the telescopes Doug reflected that there will probably be fewer telescopes in the future, but that those should be the best in the world, nothing else is worthy of Mauna Kea. Asked about her personal vision of the future of the summit Hāwane asked for nothing less that the dismantling of all of the telescopes.

I spent the evening listening and operating a production video camera we had brought over from Keck. CFHT, Subaru and Keck staff operated a battery of audio/visual gear, live casting the event on YouTube, recording video for later editing and managing a Skype connection for Lanakila. I expect we should have good videos up shortly, they are definitely worth watching by anyone interested in the issues surrounding our mountain. The presentation by Hāwane should be worth watching just to hear her sing. I will put the links here as soon as they become available.

Update… Check out the video here.


Hinahina (Geranium cuneatum ssp hololeucum) at 9,000ft on the slopes of Mauna Kea

A striking silver shrub common on the cinder slopes and recent lava flows around Mauna Kea and the saddle region. The leaves are covered with small, silvery hairs giving the plant a silvery hue that is quite a contrast to the dark volcanic rock on which it is commonly found. The ground around the plant is often littered with these silvery leaves adding to the effect.


Hinahina (Geranium cuneatum ssp hololeucum) at 9,000ft on the slopes of Mauna Kea

Native to the Hawaiian islands, Geranium cuneatum ssp. hololeucum is a member of the geranium family and is the only geranium to feature a woody structure. The plant is common on recent lava flows and cinder found at the upper margin of vegetation on the mountain.

A small shrub, most of the specimens I have seen are one to two feet high and a few feet in diameter. The leaves are ovate with linear veins and a forked tip.

The name is partially shared with the silversword found higher on the mountain, as hinahina means silver in Hawaiian. Several silvery plants share the common name hinahina across the islands. I prefer the name ʻāhinahina for the silversword and reserve hinahina for this pretty little geranium.

Dennis likes to go out on Sundays… I go when and where the boat goes, no complaints! Any day on the water is a good one.

Yellow-spotted Guard Crab

A yellow-spotted guard crab (Trapezia flavopunctata) in cauliflower coral

The plan was to dive Touch of Gray, an excellent dive site near Makalawena Beach. This is a deep dive site, so looking to maximize bottom time we loaded up on Nitrox for everyone. Our info also placed a number of gray reef sharks at the site recently, a good reason to go.

I also had a new toy along, a Sola Photo 800 dive light. I am really interested in improving my underwater video, thus looking forward to using this new light.

Reaching the dive site we encountered a problem… No mooring to be found. We had the correct coordinates, but multiple passes with everyone on the bow failed to spot the ball. Thus we dropped Mark in the water to take a look, he spotted the cable lying on the bottom, the mooring ball was gone. Off we headed for another dive site.

We ended up diving Carpenter’s instead. Not a bad choice, this is a nice area with a lot of topography to explore. Large coral pinnacles reach from depths of 40′ to near the surface, with a few canyons and shallow caves to add to the terrain.

I can not say I found anything unusual or new. Just a nice dive with lots of fish. It appears to be a good recruitment year, a lot of juvenile fish about. This included several dragon wrasse to chase through the coral rubble with the camera. I love how they swim, somehow going in the direction they desire without appearing to move. Seeming to just drift like the piece debris they attempt to mimic as camouflage.

Despite the shallow dive site we dove the nitrox anyway, the tanks were rented and needed to be returned full or empty. No nitrogen lethargy after these dives! Everyone was ready to go for more, nitrox really does keep you from feeling the after effects of the dive.

Trying not to take it for granted just how good we have it here on the island. As we cruise back to harbor we are enjoying the sunlight on the bow and talking about life. The conversation turns to just how miserable life can be in much of the world. We look about and make a point to notice… Life is good here.

Kohala Sunset

Sunset along the Kohala Coast, photo by Deborah Cooper