Hawaii is home to an abundance of marine life. The Hawaiian Islands welcome the largest seasonal population of North Pacific Humpback Whales in the world! After feeding in northern waters during the summer, humpback whales make the 3,000-mile journey to the Hawaiian Islands to mate, calve and nurse their young. January to March is prime time to see the migratory humpback whales.
Another marine mammal you might see from the shore is the Hawaiian Monk Seal. They are known to be spotted sunbathing on the beach. These seals are endemic to Hawaii and protected under the endangered species act. You should not approach a seal if you see one, although many surfers have been startled by a curious monk seal surfacing next to them.
Just like the monk seal, you will often spot playful spinner dolphins frolicking in the surf. Like their name suggests, you may catch them leaping out of the water and spinning in mid-air. They usually travel in herds, so if you spot one, be on the look-out for its friends!
The most common sea turtle in the Hawaiian Islands is the Green Sea Turtle. They can be seen grazing on marine plants in shallow waters. Adults can grow up to 200lbs or more. Sea turtles are culturally significant to the Hawaiian people as aumakua or family guardians.
What else can you see in Hawaii’s waters? Fish! Lots and lots of them. Hawaii’s coral reefs are home to more than 700 species of fish, 25 percent of which are endemic to Hawaii. Whether you opt to snorkel, dive, boat or catch a submarine, you’ll see surgeons, tangs, angelfish, puffers, sea bass and moray eels. Don’t forget to look for the state fish- the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (or the Picasso Triggerfish).