At first we thought we were seeing a tall dorsal fin sticking out above the surface of the ocean. There is any number of cetacean that it could belong to, from beaked whales to false killer whales to offshore dolphin species. The Big Island of Hawaii is one of premier destinations for cetacean experts to encounter and study these rarely seen creatures. However, as we got closer we realized it was something even rarer. It was a huge dark bird floating on the water. Our captain Colin shouted, 'Black Footed Albatross.'
All but 2.5% of the black footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) population resides in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Every once in a while we spot them flying offshore. They are immediately recognizable with their 7.2ft wingspan. I had spotted a couple over the last two weeks but I was very surprised to see one resting on the water. I was even more surprised at what happened next.
I slipped on my snorkel gear and grabbed my little olympus tough camera and entered the water. The albatross seemed to be just as interested in me as I was in it. At one point it tried to peck the camera in my hand. I was glad to have a snorkel mask on covering my eyes. This bird was huge! And so beautiful close up. I spent about five minutes in the water with the albatross looking right back at me. This is a moment that I imagine few people have ever had.
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
|Ancient fish pond|
|Looking down at Halawa Valley|
|Greg blowing the Pu|
|Welcome chant to Halawa|
|Greg and Pops doing the Honi|
|Where the stream meets the ocean|
|Halawa bay and beach|
|Pops, Me, and Greg|
Friday, March 1, 2019
At one point we had six mantas in our sight. The plankton was pretty dense in the cove and the mantas were definitely enjoying the plethora of food. We watched them glide over the scuba divers at the bottom, before swimming straight up under the snorkelers at the surface. These pictures of of the manta as it barrel rolled inches under our board. Our underwater lights lit up the white underbelly of the 8+ft coastal manta. The black spots and splotches on the belly are how we identify individual mantas. Over a hundred have been identified at this spot alone on the Big Island.
It is always a good time when you have to remind your snorkelers to lift up their feet so they don't accidentally kick a manta ray. Here is hoping that they are back for good.
Check out some of my past manta experiences here: Manta Ray Posts
You can find high resolution manta ray photos in my portfolio here: Manta Ray Photos