Discovering Hawaii's Year-round Creatures
By Sarah Bernstein, Expedition Guide
The verge of humpback season brings a certain feeling of suspense as we wake up cruising through the waters of the Hawaiian Islands aboard the Safari Explorer. Each time I dive underwater at one of our snorkel spots, I wait for the air to bubble out of my snorkel and I relax, wait, and listen.
So far, I haven’t heard the familiar song denoting the presence of our North Pacific humpback whales, but I wait with bated breath, because I know the song, and the whales themselves could appear at any moment. It is a very exciting time to be in Hawaii. But of course it is always an exciting time to be here.
If you look beyond our seasonal humpback visitors, you will find an ocean that is filled with year-round creatures both big and small. Just this week we swam with 12-foot manta rays, playful spinner dolphins, and the enigmatic frogfish. Schools of yellow tangs gather so closely together that you can see them from the boat, high above the water’s surface.
And always a big hit are the Hawaiian green sea turtles. We find them napping under ledges, eating algae off the reef, and sometimes getting their shells cleaned like a car wash. Another favorite are the different moray eel species that call Hawaiian reefs their home. We have seen free swimming morays out on the hunt during several of our snorkels recently.
With all of this going on, I wonder if having humpbacks here in full force is going to be overload for the guests. With a few sightings of early humpbacks already this season and our bow pointed to the Humpback National Marine Sanctuary waters around Maui, I think I will soon find out.