100 Million Animals Die Each Year Because Of Poaching Hawaii Snorkeling Tips Part III – Reef Etiquette

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Hawaii Snorkeling Tips Part III – Reef Etiquette

Coming to my island for a vacation? There are three things I always recommend a first time visitor do. First, get some air. Second – go to a luau. Finally, I advise people of all ages to get into the water and go snorkeling. You will find your mind going back to that experience over and over again over the years more than most other travel experiences. Part I of this series discusses Snorkeling gear; Part II of this series will discuss Snorkeling Techniques and Part III will cover Snorkeling Safety; Part V of the series will cover snorkeling on the Big Island.

Now, let’s talk a little about the nature of snorkeling and protecting the reef and the animals that live there.

Please do not feed the fish, it disrupts their natural feeding habits and may injure them. Fish are territorial and occasionally “nip” but you should not chase, bother or touch them (this includes octopi). The oils on your fingers will harm their skin and they can carry diseases that they can do to you on your hands. For photographing the fish, either snorkeling or scuba diving, simply find a feeding spot (usually a rock or a coral reef filled with algae, and stand still and quiet nearby. They will start checking you out and maybe you can stop Long enough, eventually round it leads to excellent photos and a very memorable experience.

The practice of snorkeling calls for protecting not only marine animals, but also the fragile corals that grow on the ocean. Corals, actually a colony of very small animals, take hundreds of years to grow the parts visible today; they feed, shelter and provide habitat for other reef animals. Coral reefs also protect lagoons and beaches from waves and sand erosion. Coral is the very root of Hawai’ian history and culture; Hawaiian music traces the origins of life in the ocean, beginning with the coral polyp.

Touch the coral to see what they feel like it can cause the death of an entire colony. Oils from your skin can irritate the delicate mucous membranes that protect animals from disease. Please do not walk on or stand on the coral, as this can kill the living coral polyps which, like those that build the entire reef system, are the very basis of the ecosystem. Washing sunscreen off your body can kill acne; wear a t-shirt and swim cap for UV protection and put on your sunscreen AFTER you get out of the water.

Called Honu by the natives of Hawaii, the Hawaiian Green Sea turtle is beautiful, peaceful and seemingly intelligent. Although they have been swimming in the ocean for over 200 million years, eating algae and invertebrates in peace, the highly successful product of amphibian evolution is in serious danger. Habitat loss, hunting and exploitation by humans have conspired to push the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle to the brink of extinction.

Protected now by state and federal law, the population of once a million people has dwindled to just a few hundred thousand; Although they are making a comeback, Hawaii’s honu are still very much in danger.

Do not approach sleeping turtles too closely, do not touch or pick them up. Attacking turtles live a hard life and in any case, touching a turtle is a good way to get a salmonella infection. If they are swimming near you, do not approach or chase them; always swim to their side, not above (as a predatory fish would) or below them (so they don’t feel that their soft belly is in danger).

Anyone who observes their beauty and grace underwater easily understands why the Hawaiians derived their word for “peace”, “honua” from their name for the green sea turtle, “honu”.

Although it is difficult for the snorkeler to get close, but certainly not less in the risk of attack in marine mammals: fish, seals and whales. In general, it is illegal, dangerous and generally a bad idea to approach aquatic animals within 100 yards; 300 yards for women with calves. Fish and seals, in particular, may choose to approach you – just remember, this is not a “Flipper” – these are wild animals and they eat. Hard. If you approach, stay calm (completely entranced, of course, but calm); do not approach any animal and do not reach out to them as they may interpret this as aggression on your part and possibly bite. Male seals can exhibit extreme behavior and are known as *ahem* swimmers. Avoid these frustrations by watching and enjoying these animals from a distance. About the whale…uh, wait a minute…if there’s someone out there who’s crazy enough to swim in the open ocean and kill a 60,000 pound beast with a mouth twice the size of a king’s bed, nothing I said. are going to stop them… just use some common sense, OK? Leave them alone-Besides…it’s legal.

And now a word about sharks – two words, actually: “Don’t Worry”. There is good news and bad news about sharks in Hawaii – first the bad news: if you are in water deeper than your knees, you can be within 200 yards of a shark. The good news? You will not know it. The truth is that you are unlikely to see or encounter a shark… period. Thousands of people swim in Hawaii every year without ever seeing a backsplash wash over the water. Don’t worry – you are not what they are (so you will not attract them) and in general, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. To allay visitors’ fears about sharks, the Hawaiian Tourism Board used to advertise that tourists were more likely to be hit on the head by a falling coconut than by a shark…but they decided that It’s not a real pleasure to write about. , perhaps. In fact, there are about three shark bites a year in Hawaii – which is amazing considering that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the water, every day, every day of the year.

Having said that, remember that all sharks demand respect and there are many things you can do to keep yourself generally safe in any shark encounter. The number one safety tip is: avoid them. Sharks are stealthy hunters and in any situation where they are hidden in the water, they will hunt. So don’t go into the water until at least an hour after dawn, get out of the water at about 4 pm; don’t go into the water if you are sick; avoid flowing mouths. Follow beach closures; obey the warning from the guardians of the world. Small sharks can’t be big sharks unless they pay special attention to avoid anyone bigger than them – small sharks will generally slip quietly away from you without you even knowing they’re there. Great sharks are different. They can approach you.

The most common wisdom you hear is: if you are being attacked or approached, swim cleanly, don’t panic, leave the shark in a corner. Do not swim at high speed directly from him, it will trigger his predator-prey response and he will chase you. Do not rinse too much; this is like dead fish (ie, dinner) to sharks. Remember that the biggest sharks eat sea turtles…to a shark hunter below you, laying your strategy on a boat or boogie board, looks amazing as a sea turtle. When you get close to the water, it is common to see three or four sea turtles basking on the beach; seeing twenty or thirty indicates that something very large and hungry is hunting water nearby. The presence of dolphins nearby does not guarantee that there will not be sharks nearby.

There are hundreds of tips for surviving a shark attack from hundreds of shark experts and survivors from all over the world—I’m not going to give you these for two reasons. First and foremost, I am not a shark expert; secondly, I have never needed any of them because I have followed reasonable rules for years and I have never, not once, seen a shark while snorkeling. I’m there 4 or 5 days a week, year round. You won’t find one either. Relax and enjoy your snorkeling…like I said…don’t worry.

Finally–many people ask “What’s the point of, um-er–answering the call of nature?” Simple – for something cold, just wash a little on the people and let it go, maybe keeping the momentum going so as not to create a “cloud”. No, that is not why the ocean is salty. For something intense, get your partner and both of you to swim and go out, visit the restroom. There are no exceptions for that.

Part I of this series discusses Snorkeling gear; Part II of this series will cover Snorkeling Technique; Part IV of the series covered Snorkeling; Part V will cover Big Island Snorkel Spots and Part VI discusses Big Island Desert Snorkeling Spots.

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