Hawaiian Fine Art Photography
Big Island photography and articles by Victoria McCormick, Big Island photographer
For over twenty years Victoria has photographed the Hawaiian Island chain recording special moments in time. Victoria hopes her images help raise awareness of the need to preserve the integrity of Hawaii's natural treasures. Victoria's photos have been published by National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, New York Times, Outdoor Life, Time Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs are available in numerous Hawaiian islands galleries or online www.victoriamccormick.com
THE HONU CONNECTION © 1996 Victoria McCormick
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle
Hawaiian Name: Honu
Protected by the Endangered Species Act
Observing the kinship of the Green Sea Turtle has been a wonderful experience and a lasting memory. I found a connection with them that lead me to learn more of these ancient ones. In Hawaii, most female Green Sea Turtles nest on the same small islands at French Frigate Shoals. Like many generations before, they travel hundreds of miles from their feeding grounds in the main islands to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands’ nesting sites. After mating, the female leaves the comfort of the ocean, hauls herself across a pristine beach and digs a nest pit slightly larger than herself. Then with her hind flippers she digs a two foot hole for her 50 to 150 eggs. She covers her nest with sand before returning to the ocean. She will not mate again for two or three years.
In two months the baby turtles hatch and work together as a group by scrambling on top of each other to lift themselves to just below the surface of their sandy nest. At dusk, the two inch babies burst from their nest and scamper across the beach into the ocean - surviving predators as best they can. They quickly swim straight out into the ocean to their unknown nursery where they eat many kinds of small marine life. When the baby turtles reach 15 to 18 inches long, they come close to Hawaii’s islands and begin feeding in algae rich pastures. All ages spend the winter and spring months in these shallow feeding grounds throughout the islands eating sea grasses and seaweed. Green Sea Turtles often come ashore to bask in the sun for hours.
It is of interest to know that Green Sea Turtles:
- Cannot pull their heads inside their shells.
- See well underwater but not above.
- Shed thick salty tears to cleanse and remove extra salt from their bodies.
- Have no voice but can hear.
- Have an excellent sense of smell.
- Can grow to lengths of 3-4 feet and weigh up to 400 pounds.- Reach sexual maturity around 25 years old and can possibly live up to 80 years.
- Can swim 20 miles per hour for short distances.
- Fossils are dated to 180 million years ago.
In the summertime when the sun is at its highest, some adult females and most of the males begin their journey back to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Some swim as far as 800 miles or more in their pilgrimage to complete the journey of the Honu.
© 1996 Victoria McCormick * PO Box 6448 * Kamuela, HI 96743 * www.victoriamccormick.com
For the last twenty-five years Victoria has photographed in the Hawaiian Island Chain recording special moments in time. She hopes her images will help raise awareness of the need to preserve the integrity of Hawaii’s natural treasures. May our respect and courtesy be given to the land and its wildlife and to the ocean and its sea life.
`ANAEHO`OMALU © 1996 Victoria McCormick
`Anaeho`malu Bay and Fishponds, Big Island, Hawaii
`Anaeho`omalu Bay also known as A Bay is one of Kohala’s treasures. In the summer months this long curving sandy beach is great for swimming and snorkeling.
The fishponds were used by ancient Hawaiians for raising mullet. The pond has a natural spring that mixes with the ocean water creating a brackish water. The Hawaiians had placed a grate across the ocean opening which let the small fish enter from the ocean. The pond was rich in algae and small shrimp which the fish ate and then became to large to return to the ocean.
The island of Hawaii (known as the Big Island) has five volcano mountains, the land of fire and ice, desert and jungle. Kohala is the oldest volcanic mountain, then Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The Big Island is twice the size of all the other major Hawaiian Islands combined.
The Big Island is abundant in Hawaiian wildlife and sea life. The island also has many waterfalls, 30 foot tall ferns, and beaches of white, green and black sand. Heiaus (ancient temples) and petroglyphs (rock engravings) along with natural hot ponds are among some of the Big Island’s treasures.
Nature and time have gifted the Big Island with miles of untamed tropical wilderness. It is truly a land of enchantment.
OCEAN GUARDIANS © 1996 Victoria McCormick
Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins
Hawaiian Name: Nai’a
Slipping out of a kayak and into the waters off a Hawaiian Island to observe wild spinner dolphins is indeed magic. You can hear them coming before you see their parallel formations in the ocean depth. They join one another, playing and making their wonderful graceful patterns as if dancing. Groups crisscrossing from all directions. You lose track of time and orientation. What else matters but these lovely creatures? They circle the bay as they rest and play their play. They spin in the ocean before they thrust their spinning bodies magnificently into the air rejoicing to be alive. The pod is protective of its young, though in this moment trusting enough to allow a glimpse into their lives giving you a feeling of magic indeed.
‘OHELO PRESERVES © 1996 Victoria McCormick
Hawaiian Name: Nene
Hawaii’s State Bird
The rare ‘ohelo berry is one of the few truly native fruits of Hawaii, found only on the island of Hawaii and east Maui. Growing well near the Kilauea Crater on the island of Hawaii, the ‘Ohelo Berry was considered sacred to Pele. In the olden times, it was customary to offer some of the berries to Pele before eating any of them. Not only has Pele and the people of the islands found the ‘ohelo berry enticing, it is among the Nene’s favorite foods. The Nene is Hawaii’s state bird and an endangered species.
The Nene is considered the rarest goose in the world. They are thought to have descended from Canadian Geese that arrived on Hawaii before humans. Surviving on these isolated islands for many generations they gradually became a new species.
The Nene is a medium sized goose now found in the wild only on lava flows and high mountain slopes of Hawaii, Maui and in the wet lands of Kauai. They can grow as tall as twenty inches and weigh up to five pounds with the male being the larger. Their voice ranges from a loud “haw” or “haw-ah” to a muted call sounding like the “moo” of a cow. They also call a soft “nay-nay.”
At two to three years old Nene mate for life. They nest in the winter unlike other geese. The female scoops a shallow nest in the ground, pulling soft down breast feathers to tuck around the two to five cream colored eggs. She incubates the eggs for 28 to 30 days only leaving the nest for short spans of time to eat. The male Nene stands guard.
The adults are very protective of their young during the year they are together. Scientists think the goslings have as many as four different calls: “greeting” “pleasure” “sleepy” and “distress” signals. The goslings first fly at about eleven to fourteen weeks of age. The adults will molt in the summer and the family will fly together to new feeding grounds. The Nene’s diet consists of grasses, green leafy plants, seeds and berries.
© 1996 Victoria McCormick, PO Box 6448, Kamuela, HI 96743 * www.victoriamccormick.com