Sea Life in Kauai

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While snorkeling, scuba diving or boating in Kauai, you can expect a diverse array of sea life! The Anini Reef on the North Shore is known for its wide variety of colorful fish, turtles, and beautiful coral. Look out for sea life that will delight your eyes and inspire memories on your one-of-a-kind vacation!

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins can be seen throughout the main islands year round, where they feed, mate and care for their young. Boating is the best way to spot dolphins because they love riding the waves of the boat. You may also see a dolphin spin through the air, hence their name.

Green Sea Turtles are the most commonly seen turtles on the island and can weigh upwards of 200 pounds. You can spot these turtles from Kilawea Lighthouse and Kalapaki Bay. Male turtles can be distinguished from their longer tails while the female tails are much shorter. Every two to three years the turtles migrate thousands of miles to mate and nest, where they can lay up to 100 eggs. Enjoy a memorable experience swimming near the turtles, just do not hold on to them as they can drown.

Leatherback Turtle can be seen in deep waters feeding off of jelly fish. Amazingly, this turtle does not have a hard shell and is the giant of turtles, weighing up to two thousand pounds.
Hawaiian Monk Seals are the most endangered seal species on the planet, living between 25 and 30 years and weighing upwards of 400 pounds. You can catch them sunbathing on the warm sand, but just enjoy them from afar.

North Pacific Humpback Whales migrate to Hawaii from December through April and can be seen on fun and exciting whale watching tours. Fun Fact: All humpback whales, while in the Hawaiian waters, sing the same song which changes over the season.

Eels can generally be seen by divers and snorkelers. They hang out in dark crevices and holes. If you are lucky, you may spot a well-camouflaged octopus in a dark corner.

Angelfish are commonly seen by snorkelers and divers. Look out for pairs of colorful Butterfly Fish along the reef. One of the first fish you may spot is Goatfish, recognizable for their ability to change color dramatically. Needlefish are long and slender and there are at least four types in Hawaii.

Tangfish are the most prominent of fish in Hawaii and travel in large groups. They are oval in shape, with thin bodies and they live in shallow waters.

Triggerfish, also known as Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua’a (snout like a pig), is named for the shape of its dorsal fin. They are beautifully colored and can be seen in tidal rock pools as well as on the reefs.
Yellow-finned Tuna, also known as ‘Ahi, are seen and served throughout the Hawaiian Islands. They are pale gray with yellow fins and can be seen throughout the island waters.

Dolphin Fish are popular with fisherman and can grow quite large, although not as big as ‘Ahi. They can be recognized by their distinctive head shape and colorful patterns. Known as Mahi’mahi in Hawaiian, there are over forty species living in the Hawaiian Islands.

Challenge yourself to see all of the varieties of undersea life around the island. Check out our other blogs on whale watching, surfing, snorkeling and diving, and more! Aloha!

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