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Top 5 Sea Creatures to Encounter in Hawaii

a fish swimming under water

While people-watching on the beautiful islands of Hawaii can be fun, it will never compare to the joy of spotting a colorful ocean resident. From benevolent green sea turtles to yellow butterfly fish that dart among the rocks, it is super easy to spot these lovely sea creatures while scuba diving or snorkeling off hawaiian islands.

Let’s have a look at the top five sea creatures that you might encounter during your visit to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Monk Seals

The monk seal of Hawaii is on the Federal list of endangered species; reliable sources report that there are  only a thousand left in the world. Their puppy-like faces belie a less than welcoming attitude toward tourists who think they should walk up and pat them on the head. Not only will a monk seal put you in your place, you’ll be breaking the law as well, so admire from a distance! The local name of these Monk Seals is Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua.

Spinner Dolphins (Naia)

Dolphin watching in Kauai is an experience like none other. Spinner dolphins, known by Naia in Hawaiian, are common throughout Hawaii. These acrobatic marine mammals’ pods are spotted daily off the Na Pali Coast in Kauai as well as other parts of the islands.

Spinner dolphins are fittingly named for their affinity to spin as they leap out of the water. Sighting these playful animals ride in the wake of your boat is as entertaining as is sounds.

Reef Triggerfish

The official state fish of Hawaii is the Reef Triggerfish. This name was too simple and boring for the imaginative Hawaiian people who love stories, legends, and myths. They decided to name it Humuhumunukunukuapua`a! Locals joke that the name of the fish is longer than the fish itself, which grows to a maximum size of only eight inches!

The humuhumunukunukuapuaa has powerful jaws and sharp, cutting teeth, and usually is found in shallow reef habitats where it swims close to the bottom while searching for food such as algae, crustaceans and snails.

It propels itself through the water with waving motions of the dorsal and anal fins. This allows it to have great maneuverability and the ability to hover over reefs. The humuhumunukunukuapuaa’s eyes are set high upon its head that assists it in scanning the reef for food and predators. One of the best ways to experience these fish is through a raft tour off the Napali coast.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (Honu)

These long-lving and innocent sea creatures are among Hawaii’s most precious. While snorkeling, they’ll coast on by as if they’ve known you their entire lives. Since these green sea turtles, Honu, are a protected species, it is imperative not to touch them. Always stay at least 10 to 15 feet away from a sea turtle. Touching or harassing sea turtles in anyway is punishable by law.

Kauai has an abundance of places where sea turtles can be seen. The odds of encountering these marvelous creatures are high on our boat tours.

Manta Rays (Hahalua)

The unique manta rays are one of the biggest fishes in the ocean with wingspans of up to twenty feet or more; however, unlike eagle rays or stingrays, mantas do not have stingers. The Island of Hawaii’s Kona Coast is best known for sight-friendly manta rays during night time.

On Kauai, manta rays are most commonly observed in the winter months. These magnificent creatures can weight as much as 6,000 pounds. These gentle giants can look terrifying but they’re notoriously docile and are considered among the most intelligent creatures on earth. They are one of only two non-human species in studies to be able to identify themselves in a mirror.

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