Today, we started off early, ready to depart for the dive boat at 7:30 and start our adventure for the day. As we reached the dive boat we all huddled together and got ready for the dive briefing, where we got to learn about where we were going and what we are doing. The first dive site we went to was call Suck ‘Em Up, and the name was given by its lava spout that seems to suck in water and all the particles in it. Once we got on the boat we went to the dive sight and suited up to start our dives. Luckily the waters were not terribly rough and we had a good fifty minute dive to shake the rust off. On that dive we saw octopuses, parrotfish, wrasse, pufferfish and even a white tipped reef shark. During the dive the currents started to pick up and we could all feel it as we either fought against or fly through the water with it at our back. Once we got settled on the dive, we followed our leader, Niko, around as he showed us through the native corals and fish of Hawai‘i. As far as I’m concerned, the color under the water was some of the most vibrant I have ever seen while diving, whether it was the parrotfish or the fancy colored fan corals. On the first dive sight we got to swim through different coral structures such as arches or cave like areas where the fish hid in the shadows of the rocks. After our first dive, we got back on the boat and had some sandwich rolls with ham, tomatoes, and lettuce, while we drove off to the next site, Kaloko. Once we reached the site we got back in the wetsuits and headed down to the floor. This dive went much smoother as we were all more comfortable in the water. On this dive we saw another octopus and some crazy colored fish. One of the rare fish we saw was a frog fish that blended in sort of like a rock. Once again, we went through cool different coral structures and got to see awesome and colorful fish. After forty five minutes we went up to the surface and climbed aboard the boat, and we headed into shore to eat lunch and go to the next stop. For lunch we stopped at the harbor and I had some chicken, two cookies, and a clementine. After we finished eating, we went back to the Monk Seal Rehabilitation Center to learn about the volunteer work and how they help the, conduct studies on the seals. When we got there, we had another entry presentation which was followed by us collectively watching a Monk Seal for ten minutes and writing down observations. During this time, we had the opportunity to go into the lab and look at blood and fecal samples from the Monk seal. Although weird, I would say this was one of the most interesting because we got to learn more about the diet of seals, which mainly consists of herring in the rehab center. A cool little fact is that the seals have a reverse gag reflex in the sense that they swallow food if touches or tickles the back of their throat. This helps the, develop feeding habits for the wild where they swallow their food whole. On a side note, the seal population has seen a two percent growth over the past year where it usually sees a negative percent indicating harm to the population. Lastly, we went back to the NELHA visitor center to hear from Josh Lambus, a renowned photographer who has collaborated with National Geographic as well as Discovery, and his most recent collaboration was with the guys on Shark Week. He had filmed a video of a cookie cutter shark at night which was pretty rare and it was featured on Shark Week. At the visitor center Josh gave us an awesome presentation on different organisms we would see on the night dive such as octopuses or jelly fish. This presentation was hands down one of the coolest and we got to learn about the different species of fish. To end the day we got our briefing for the black water dive and went through all the safety concerns and learned about how to stay safe on our dive.
With the trip only just starting I can’t wait for tomorrow’s night dive where we get to feed the Manta rays. I think this will be one of the coolest dives because I personally haven’t even seen a manta ray and on this dive they will literally be right next to me. Also I’m excited for the hike on Friday to see all the nature of The Valley and witness the serenity and beauty of the Hawaiian islands.