Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tonga - Day 7

Hello everyone. Sorry I'm falling behind the posts. Between internet problems and sending out shipments, updating my blog has been difficult.

Today was another beautiful day. Here is a view of the docks as we were leaving for the open ocean.

A local dive operation, who also fills up scuba tanks for us for a fee.

On the way out, we decided to stop by the fish market to pick up bait for fishing. That little blue building on the far left is the fish market.

Big clams were available!

Big cockles looked good to eat! My wife loves these - hi honey!

So I bought a cup of these opened cockles.

Fishermen catch fish at night with spears and then sell them in the morning. Here is a large parrotfish with a big hump on its head!

Octopus is always a local favorite!

Unicorn tangs!

Beautiful naso tangs with streamers. These fish actually taste really good. The locals like to boil them and eat with rice!

Lobsters have been hard to find these days as the fishermen who normally catches these tasty crustaceans, have been collecting sea cucumbers instead. Now that the cucumber season is coming to an end, the lobsters are showing up again around the islands. The most popular way to catch these guys is to shoot them with a spear at night.

Some smaller snapper like fish.

Check out these cool looking fish. They look like giant cardinal types, with their big eyes and reddish color. These odd looking fish are hook and line caught in very deep waters.

Check them teeth out on the barracudas!

These looked like a mackerel of some sort.

Giant mud crabs were also available.

So these crabs are sold in basket lots.

Now I just have to figure out where these mud crabs were caught, and I can go catch my own. Perhaps my crab snares would work here - hm...

Giant mahi mahi heads for sale!

Mahi mahi steaks are delicious. Good thing living on a island, fresh fish is always available.

These big clams would taste really good steamed with black bean sauce!

We left the fish market and headed out to sea. On the way out, I prepared my fishing gear. Here I have baited a cockle meat.

It was another pretty day!

Our boatman decided to bring his spear with him today. Three sharp steel tips!

Here is the other end of the spear, the rubber band Hawaiian sling.

These work great, even I have caught fish before! Beginners like me have to shoot the fish, but the pros can simply stab the fish instead.

Water was crystal clear as usual. These darker areas were patches of soft corals.

An island as we were heading out. Nobody lives here but sometimes fishermen take refuge during bad weathers.

Paradise baby, paradise!!

We anchored in about 20 feet of water. As the guys were getting ready to put their wetsuits on, I dropped my line down and instantly caught this very pretty wrasse!

The colors were intense and enough of these would make a great meal!

Here is Teau, pretending to be a "big one"!

My next cast, I caught this acropora!

Looked like a yellow green tortuosa!

My next catch was this little guy. I think I saw these at the fish market earlier in the morning.

My next catch was this large goby of some sort.

Nasty teeth on a lizardfish!

After catching more wrasses and stuff, the guys came up with some corals. Here is one of my favorite Tongan coral, the yellow green porites. For a porites species, these corals are really nice. The only problem is that they damage easily on the tips. These are known as "yellow jewls" locally.

Here are some other goodies that Teau and Tau found. Note the blue lined subechinata on the mid left - sweet!

We moved to shallower water for acros.

Here the guys simply snorkel for the acros.

Here is my catch so far. I believe the smaller and less colorful ones were females, while the bigger more prettier ones were males.

Tau came up and asked if I wanted to eat a lobster. I said "yah of course"!

I through him the spear and soon he came up with this large lobster. Tau said there was another one in the same hole but got away after he shot this one.

It was a big boy! All I could think about was how to cook it.

Acanthastrea maxima, seems like the guys are finding these corals here and there.

A close up of the lobster, look like a dairy cow!

Even dead, these wrasses still had color.

Lots of big green chromis damsels were swimming around this coral "island".

The water was only about three to four feet deep.

I didn't see too many fish, only chromis and banana wrasses.

Nice aquascaping!

I brought the lobster to my friend Larry to be cooked.

And here is Larry with his Tongan wife Suzanna. Larry is originally from New York but has been living in the South Pacific for a long time. He is a great cook. Tonight's meal is blackened swordfish, with papaya salsa, with purple string beans (turns green after cooked), and stir fried lobster tail! To wash it down, a can of blueberry fanta - awesome!


Ok guys that is it for today. After a hard day on the ocean (not really but sounds good), a great meal like this is priceless. Stay tuned as I will post again very soon.


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