You’re in Hawai — finally, what took you so long to get there? — and you’re on a boat, under the beautiful, clear blue sky, warmed by the unimpeded sun, and you’re about to dip into the turquoise waters and snorkle. Nothing could be better. And you’re about to witness spectacular sea life that is unique to Hawaii.
Here’s what’s under the surface.
Triggerfish are really a sight to behold with their vibrant colors and patterns. While they may be pretty to look at, triggerfish can also be quite aggressive, so it’s best to give them a wide berth. If you choose to snorkel with triggerfish, stay calm and move slowly, as sudden movements may trigger their aggressive nature, which, now you think about their name, makes sense.
Also known as blowfish, these sea creatures inflate themselves with air, making them look much larger than they are. They have elastic like stomachs that they fill to take on a ball shape. While this may be a defense mechanism, it’s also thought that the inflation helps them float and move more easily through the water. Nature, I’m teling, you, thinks of everything… They’re also remarkable for being among the few species of fish that can change their gender.
They are part of the marine family known as Tetraodontidae. It’s a big family (and would make for an ugly reunion, sorry, have to say) and include such alien looking characters as balloonfish, honey toads, sugar toads, bubblefish, globefish, and sea squab.
And look but don’t touch: the pufferfish won’t bite you but don’t bite them either. They are the famous lethal sushi, banned in most of the world, incredibly not all. The fish has a toxin considered 1200 times more deadly than cyanide. How anyone came up with that precise estimate is mindboggling, and, realistically, moot. One would think twice as deadly as cyanide would be enough to get it a strict warning label. In Japan, they are considered a “delicacy” — which is a bit of an exaggeration since the flesh, if cut right so it doesn’t kill you, is apparently bland. FYI, it’s not always cut right, and every year many thrill seekers die from eating it.
These are easily recognized by their bright colors and a distinctive beak-like mouth. Many are herbivores and play an essential role in keeping the coral reefs healthy. They are woke fish! Parrotfish are also an important food source for many other animals in the ocean. Saddies.
Snapper fish is a type of reef fish that can be found in tropical and subtropical waters. They are typically red, orange, or yellow in color and have an oval or oblong body shape. They can grow to be quite large, with some specimens reaching up to 3 feet in length. These fish are carnivorous and prey on smaller fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. And probably parrotfish.
Usually found in pairs and in reefs, lagoons, and tidepools, butterfly fish are relatively easy to identify, thanks to their long, narrow bodies and large fins, and their rainbow of colors, hence appearing like butterflies of the sea. Their skin can range from black, white, yellow, red, orange and even silver. They have a variety of spots and patterns on their body, and some have black stripes across their eyes. Those are the goths of the butterfly fish nation.
They are also one of the most sought-after fish for aquariums. Saddies.
Manta rays are elegant creatures that can grow to be up to 29 feet wide and weigh up to 3,000 pounds. While they may look intimidating, manta rays are actually harmless to humans. These gentle giants are often seen feeding on plankton near the surface of the water. If you’re lucky, you might see one leaping out of the water, because that’s a pretty spectacular sight.
Quick Tips When Snorkeling in Hawaii
You need to first get good-quality snorkel gear. That might be obvious, but your experience will be subpar if you don’t. So, you’re welcome. And remember, don’t touch anything: Hawaii’s coral and marine life is very delicate, so it’s important not to touch or stand on them.
Always be aware of the currents. Be mindful of your surroundings and only snorkel in areas where you feel comfortable. Don’t be proud, if you need to hire a guide, hire one!
Lastly, choose a good spot. There are many great snorkeling spots in Hawaii, so do your research to find one that suits your level of experience and interests. Or, er, hire a guide.
Check out these best snorkel tours and sunset cruises that can give you the best time underwater!
Incredibly, considering everything that is above water, most of the planet is beneath the sea!