(On film & paper)

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              Watching the Mystery Hunter professionals was inspiring and educational!  Their equipment was first-class to match the quality of their skills and experience!  But it was certainly not appropriate for a lowly amateur like me to snap photos of the activity in  the tank that night.  I saw enough to know the "Opae'ula Surface Swarming" was successful and I look forward to seeing the finished show.  In the quiet of the next day, I wanted to see what I could do to photograph 5,000 opae'ula in the 10-gallon tank.

     This was the original 2004 photo used to create the image for the story "THE HAWAIIAN LEGEND OF THE WAINAPANAPA CAVE."

     The rock on the right was lighted with a halogen lamp and photosynthesis was taking place and oxygen bubbles were being produced. The larger rock is covered with green algae but somehow never attracted the attention of the opae'ula.  I can not explain why the smaller rock seems to be glowing!

ML RED 72 dpi 6x4.5 no enhancement.jpg (93681 bytes)       As cropped, it was an eerie image that went well with the Wainapanapa Legend.  Upon attributing the Hawaiian legend of the "water turning red with blood" to mass opae'ula surface swarming, it wasn't necessary for the TV show to see if the rock could "turn red" by being densely covered with opae'ula.  But I was curious if I could recreate a rock densely covered with opae'ula.  
       BLOOD STONE - SINGLE.   I repeated my original experiment with a rock that had been in our algae cultivation tank for several months.  It was amazing!  Just a few minutes after positioning the rock in the tank with a pair of tongs,  opae'ula began to stream towards the rock and was soon totally covering as much as three deep!  I had a hard time focusing and this was the best I could do. 
     BLOOD STONE-DOUBLE.  A second stone was placed in the tank and they kept on coming!  It is very obvious that opae'ula have a very effective form of communication!
      THE SPONGE FILTER.  The opae'ula are very strongly attracted to the bacteria in the filter. Without the sponge filter, having so many opae'ula in the tank would cause the system to crash.  

       Opae'ula seem to be constantly feeding. In nature they are always scraping away and eating algae that grows on the rocks in the ponds.  Surface swarming is not common in nature and I've only seen it once.  


       A cropped close-up of the above photo showing the massed opae'ula on the sponge filter. 
    OPAE'ULA SURFACE SWARM!  A thin amount of spirulina was spread on the water surface.  In about 5 minutes, the surface was covered with opae'ula!  The photo was taken just as the opae'ula was starting to swarm.  The surface of the water seemed to be shimmering with thousands of tiny feet breaking the surface. Others are seen enroute to the surface.  
     A cropped and enhanced photo of the surface swarm!  This phenomenom is very rarely seen in nature.  It takes Fuku-Bonsai a while to teach Micro-Lobsters to come to the surface to feed.  Spirulina is ideal as the particles must be small enough to fit into their tiny mouths.  Some opae'ula lineages are very difficult to tame and to train them to surface feed.  Note that this is in the midst of the breeding season a s several have eggs forming and visible through the carapace.  
     SIDE VIEW OF SURFACE SWARMING! Viewing through the aquarium wall looking up at the surface. 
      Cropped detail of above photo.
      Another photo with a different lighting setup!

                In pristine ponds without predators,  large quantities of opae'ula can be seen on the bottom of the ponds.  Sometimes if the light is just right,  it's possible to see them on the bottom which appears reddish.  But they are so small that it's usually necessary to get close to the water surface to see them.  

                "Surface swarming" is not common in nature.  It is possible that pollen from nearby trees may be floating on the surface to create a surface swarm.  It may be so infrequent that it becomes a phenomenon to incorporate into legends!  

      TERMITES FOR DINNER!  Opae'ula are opportunistic omnivores that eat just about anything!  It usually takes a few days for flies, ants, or other insects that drown in the Micro-Lobster tanks to soften up.  But once it reaches that stage, opae'ula take turns going up to nibble away.  Sometimes when they are two feeding, their weight causes the insect to sink. When they let go, the insect rises to the surface.

                 Being able to watch professionals greatly improved my photography skills!  Having so many in a single tank was impressive to view!

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