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Hawaii's Marine Life
Perhaps the most beautifully dramatic of Hawaii's many attractions is the world under the sea: Crystal clear water, exotic coral formations, and vividly colored reef fish make up an underwater wonderland that attracts thousands of swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers from around the world. In aquatic preserves like Oahu's Hanauma Bay, the Big Island's Kealakekua Bay or Maui's Molokini crater, the undisturbed flora and Animals create a fantastic display in moving Technicolor that soothes the soul, as it gladdens the senses.
There are about 600 fish species in Hawaiian waters, 30% of which are endemic to Hawaii (found no place else). Many of these fish are brightly colored, and add their flash of brightness to the coral reef habitat. To experience a world of wonder beyond imagination, all you have to do in Hawaii is don a mask and snorkel and hit the beach.
As well as having a large and varied resident reef population, Hawaii's waters play host to various visiting luminaries: In the summer months, large schools of ahi (yellow fin tuna), ono (giant mackerel), and mahi-mahi (dolphin fish) come to delight fishermen, restaurateurs, and anyone who enjoys eating excellent fish.
In the winter, the visitors are much larger: This is the season of the humpback whale migration, when hundreds of humpbacks come to Hawaii's warm waters to mate and play. The whales are protected, and are easily seen from shore, parading their calves, slapping the water with their surprisingly beautiful tails, and causing huge splashes as they breach, throwing their enormous bodies clear of the water. For an up-close look, a whale watching cruise is well worth it.
Dolphins are one of the most beautiful and friendly marine mammals, and Hawaii's waters are home to bottle nose dolphins (like Flipper) and the smaller spinner dolphins. Both species love to ride the bow wave of moving watercraft (as well as other waves), and will often escort passing boats. The spinner dolphins are especially entertaining, with their spectacular spinning leaps and cute little pink bellies.
A less well known Hawaiian sea mammal is the Hawaiian monk seal. These beautiful sleek creatures primarily inhabit the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a group of small islets, partially submerged reefs and atolls that extends north west of Kaua'i to the islands of Kure and Midway. In recent years, however, there have been more and more monk seal sightings on the main islands, and it is not totally unheard of to find a 400 pound seal sprawled out, basking in the sun in the middle of a crowded beach. If you are lucky enough to experience such a sight, don't come too close to the seal - he needs his rest, and monk seals are protected by law.
An increasingly common sight in inshore Hawaiian waters is the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.
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Hawaii's Marine Life
Hawaii's Humpback Whales