Creature Feature: Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known to native Hawaiians as honu, is a very popular species of sea turtle mostly because of its large size and notable characteristics. Seeing one out and about is rare, but in Maui, your chances of experiencing them in their natural habitat are quite high. The green sea turtle is the most commonly encountered turtle on the reefs of Hawaii and is truly a spectacle. Learn more about this unique marine animal below!

Learn More About the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

At about 3-4 feet long and 300-350 pounds, the Hawaiian green sea turtle is the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. And due to the ingestion of marine debris and the quick deterioration of its foraging sites, the green sea turtle has been added to the endangered species list. Luckily though, recent laws have helped slow the extinction of these creatures, and more green sea turtles have been recorded swimming around the island of Maui.

Green sea turtles got their name, not from the color of their shell, but the color of their underbellies because green sea turtles are herbivores and eat large amounts of seagrasses and algae, which often turn their undersides green.

hawaiian green sea turtle

PC: Maui Ocean Center

Diving with Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii

Diving with Hawaiian green sea turtles is a dream come true for many divers. Their rare appearance makes them a desirable sea creature to stumble upon, as does their fun and easy-going personality. If you’re lucky, you can see a green sea turtle relaxing on land, but if you’re really lucky, you can spot a honu swimming along the shores of Maui.

Turtle Town is a popular site to catch Hawaiian green sea turtles, and it can be found on Maui’s southside in Makena. Thanks to the lava tubes formed on the ocean floor here, coral reefs have grown and thrived in this area, which is perfect for sea turtles. This diving spot is mostly sheltered from strong winds that provide calm waters and generally safe diving conditions.

Another popular spot to dive with sea turtles in Maui is off of the westside beach at Olowalu. Here you’ll find the Coral Gardens where you can observe turtles being cleaned at turtle cleaning stations by other fish in the reef.

And finally, we have Honolua. This location is intended for more experienced divers due to the windy and wavy conditions. However, this is a very popular dive site because of the abundance of marine life - including Hawaiian green sea turtles - that explore here.

Critter Feature: Manta Rays

manta rays

As the largest rays in the world, manta rays are highly treasured fish in the sea. They are also a highly threatened species and are now protected in international waters by the Convention on Migratory Species. Along with this, many countries have implemented fishing bans that make it illegal to hunt and trade manta rays. Manta rays are most commonly known for their grand size and high level of intelligence which is uncommon in any other fish. These rays have a cognitive ability similar to other highly intelligent animals such as elephants and dolphins that gives them greater long-term memory. And though their large size may make them intimidating to humans, manta rays are very gentle creatures. 

Diving with the world’s largest ray is truly the experience of a lifetime. See what you can expect from a dive with manta rays in Hawaii, and find out why they’re so highly treasured throughout the world.

Learn More About Manta Rays

Despite their large size, manta rays typically feed on zooplankton and krill by simply opening their mouths wide and drawing in their prey. This type of feeding is called filter feeding which is also how whales eat. Essentially, they use their teeth to filter through the water to get the tiny plankton. Thanks to their intelligence, manta rays are great predators and are able to use their wit to prey on plankton. Often, manta rays will feed together, making a circle around their food and swimming fast to create a cyclone effect that traps their food in one spot. Another fun fact about manta rays is that they often use their long term memory to visit cleaning stations in coral reefs regularly. There are several species of fish that feed on the surface of manta rays, removing dead skin and parasites. Manta rays will commonly visit the same cleaning station over and over where they remain for several minutes at a time.  

manta ray

Diving with Manta Rays in Hawaii

The most popular destination for diving with manta rays is in Kona, Hawaii. For many, diving with mantas is one of the most satisfying underwater experiences there is, especially in Kona. You can dive with manta rays in the Maldives and Galapagos Islands where you’ll get to see these fish at one of their cleaning stations. However, in Kona, you can see the manta ray in its prime, right at dinner time! 

Night dives in Kona are quite popular because this is when manta rays are out hunting. During your dive, you’ll wind up on the floor of the ocean with manta rays up above you. Here, you’ll get to watch the mantas from the underneath while they feed and swim. Plankton is attracted to bright direct light, which is why manta rays often come out during night dives. Just be sure to keep some distance between you and the manta rays during your dive to avoid disturbing or startling them!

Critter Feature: Grey Reef Shark

The gray reef shark, also known by the scientific name Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, is most commonly found living in the Indo-Pacific Oceans, specifically between Easter Island and South Africa. They can also be found in the Caribbean and spend the majority of their time dwelling in the ocean’s beautiful coral reefs. Although there are some distinct differences between the grey reef shark and the great white shark, these shark species are commonly mistaken for one another. Fortunately, there are some key features that make telling these two sharks apart much easier. For instance, grey reef sharks are usually much smaller than great whites, often growing to be just 6 feet long or shorter. These aggressive, yet social sharks make up a large part of the marine life that live in these coral reefs. To learn more about grey reef sharks, take a look below!

Grey Reef Shark Features

Grey reef sharks are often confused with great white sharks, but they do have distinct features that make them unique. Just like great whites, grey reef sharks have large, round eyes, long snouts, and the classic grey upper body and a white underbelly. However, grey reef sharks are a medium-sized shark, weighing in under 75 pounds, and they have a distinctive caudal fin (tail) which has a broad, dark band that runs through it. Also, these sharks are known to develop a darker top color due to sun tanning when swimming in shallower waters. Some of the grey reef shark’s fins may also have darkened tips that help them stand out from other shark species.

Grey Reef Shark Behaviors and Habits

Grey reef sharks tend to dominate the reef with their aggressive behavior and hunting instincts. They are very agile predators thanks to their fast-swimming capabilities as well as their ability to dive up to 33,000 feet, although they typically remain at a depth of around 200 feet. Most commonly, grey reef sharks feed on bony fishes and cephalopods such as squid and octopus. As a social species of sharks, grey reefs travel in schools of 5-20 sharks and often hunt either alone or in a small group. This allows the sharks to have the run of the reefs, threatening most other species that live there. Some have even seen grey reef sharks corner entire schools of fish into a wall along the reef, exemplifying their hunting skills.

Learn More With Amphi Americas

Amphi Americas is dedicated to advancing underwater technology and capabilities, not only for those who enjoy diving but also for the wildlife that lives in our oceans. If you are interested in learning more about our product or would like to gather more information about our training, vacations, and seminars, connect with Amphi today!

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Creature Feature: The Queen Triggerfish

The Queen Triggerfish, also known by the scientific name Balistidae, is a native fish of tropical areas such as the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Gulf of Mexico. Although triggerfish are commonly described as being aggressive and mean, they are often captured and put into the aquarium trade due to their attractive appearance. Unfortunately, this has put Queen Triggerfish on the vulnerable species list and is now at a greater risk of becoming endangered. This fish species not only has a unique appearance but has many other qualities and abilities that make it a treasure for our oceans.

queen triggerfish florida

Queen Triggerfish Features

The Queen Triggerfish is best known for its unique ability to lock themselves into small hiding spots with their spines to stay safe from predators. Their extraordinary spinal features allow them to lock into a tight space using their first spine. Once the second spine depresses, it acts as a “trigger” to unlock the first spine and allows the fish to swim free. This is also how the fish received the name “Queen Triggerfish.” 

As mentioned before, triggerfish are commonly sought after for their aesthetic appeal. Most Queen Triggerfish is triangularly shaped and are a yellow and green color with interesting lines circling the eye. Some triggerfish may also have blue or purple on their fins and in other areas, and have a fanned, indented tail shape. 

Queen Triggerfish Behavior and Habits

Queen Triggerfish are commonly known as being aggressive and often wreak havoc in the reef during feeding times. As bottom dwellers who dig out their prey to feed on, triggerfish have become adept at using their fins to move away debris to locate their prey. Then, they use their strong teeth and jaws to bite through tough, hard shells of crabs, shrimp, sea urchins, and clams. Other sea creatures that triggerfish will feed on are squid, worms, and krill. Because of how hostile and fierce the triggerfish can be with their prey, smaller fish often follow behind to pick up their leftovers!

Learn More with Amphi Americas

Amphi Americas is dedicated to advancing underwater technology and capabilities, not only for those who enjoy diving but also for the wildlife that lives in our oceans. If you are interested in learning more about our product or would like to gather more information about our training, vacations, and seminars, connect with Amphi Americas today!