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Diving in Hawaii

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We landed in my 45th state after a full day of traveling yesterday, and woke up bright and early this morning to hit the water!

The winds were unusually strong today, causing huge waves and large bouts of sea sickness all around. But happily, visibility wasn’t affected. At Turtle Heaven, the first dive site, visibility was 60 feet. We had 100 feet of visibility at the second, Freeze Face!

While the corals and fish weren’t as colorful as what I’ve seen elsewhere, this was of our most exciting dives ever! Halfway into the dive, we spotted an enormous Hawaiian Sting Ray resting on the sandy bottom (we estimated at probably 10 feet). Our dive master Dave later told us that they are rarely seen; and Jeff’s instructor Paul haven’t seen one before!

Then Dave led us into blue water in hopes of finding the pod of dolphins we had seen on the surface. And what do you know? Before long we could hear the high pitched calls over our bubbles, and there, from the depths, swam two grown dolphins and a baby one! We watched in awe as they gracefully disappeared into the distance. But the next thing we knew, an entire pod swam into our vision. It was sooo cool!

Later, as we swam back towards the shallower reef, Dave excitedly gestured at the edge of the reef. He could see two hammerhead sharks chasing another Hawaiian Sting Ray! Although we all missed the hammerheads, we couldn’t miss the sting ray – it darted directly at us! I managed to snap off a few shots before I hastily moved out of the way – its barb looked too long. Dave later confessed that he almost thought we would get Irwined, otherwise it was an amazing sight!

Other highlights:
Jeff and Paul, while they did not see the dolphins or sting rays, swam right next to a Monk Seal. It’s amazing because there are only 5 Monk Seals near the Big Island and only 1200 in the world!

E&S surfaced a little before I did and saw a humpback whale a couple hundred yards from our boat!

While we didn’t see any turtles underwater, I saw a huge one poke it’s head out of the water while lounging at the helm of the boat.

Macro stuff:
Saw a couple of octopuses; a harlequin shrimp; and the egg of a Spanish Dancer Nudibranch, which looked like a red rose. Gorgeous!

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