By Kevin Stewart PADI instructor #188980

When diving the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers there is always something unique and exciting to find.  Almost thirty percent of the marine animals in Hawaii are endemic.  That means they are not found anywhere else in the world.  So if you go diving on the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers chances are you will see some animals you have not seen before and will not see anywhere else probably because the Hawaiian Islands are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean many species of animals cannot migrate away from here if they do not have a far enough range that they can swim to populate in other areas. 

What Kind of Endemic Critters You can See in Hawaii

  • Monk Seal
  • White Margin & Gold Lace Nudibranchs
  • Potter’s Angelfish
  • Bandit Angelfish
  • SaddleBack, Psychedelic, Short Nose, Flame & Cleaner Wrasse
  • Scarface Blenny
  • Pebbled, Milletseed, & Blueline Butterflyfish
  • Hawaiian Bigeye
  • Goldring Surgeionfish
  • Hawaiian Longfinned Anthias
  • Chocolate-dip Chromis
  • Hawaiian Dascyllus
  • Elegant Choris

 One of the biggest endemic species of marine animal you may see when diving the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers is the monk seal.  The monk seal is a marine mammal and there are  several individuals that make the big island their home.   One female monk seal that is seen quite often is named Wimanu and she has been sighted by people diving with Kona Honu Divers many times at the Manta Ray Night Dive site because she likes to scratch herself on the bow lines that the Honu One from Kona Honu Divers attaches to the buoy at the Manta Ray Night Dive site and she probably also is curious about the divers that jump off the Kona Honu Divers boat because she doesn’t get scared and swim away when they get in the water but seems to like to swim around them and check them out.  Some of the other really cool endemic species are very tiny.  There are some endemic species of nudibranchs that can be seen quite regularly when diving the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers.  Two of the most common are the Gold Lace nudibranchs and the White Margin Nudibranchs that both can be found in lots of the archways and lava tubes in crevices and holes.  The Gold Lace nudibranchs are brilliantly yellow and then have white lines crisscrossing on their dorsal side that make them look lacey, their brightness making them fairly easy to spot.  The White Margin nudibranchs are basically brown looking with a white line outlining the body.  Both these types of nudibranchs can grow to several inches long so can be fairly easy to spot although the White Margin can blend well into the algae and rock they sit if they are around varying brown colors.  Then there are all the  creatures in between, mostly fishes, that are endemic as well like the Potter’s Angelfish, Bandit Angelfish, Saddleback Wrasse, Psychedelic Wrasse, Short Nose Wrasse,  Scarface Blenny,  Pebbled Butterflyfish, Milletseed Butterfly fish, Hawaiian Bigeye, Bluelined Butterflyfish,  Goldring Surgeionfish, Hawaiian Longfinned Anthias,  Chocolate-dip Chromis, Hawaiian Dascyllus,  Elegant Choris, Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse, Flame Wrasse, and the list goes on and on.  When you go diving the Big Island with Kona Honu Divers it is very likely that you will see many of these on your dives as many are quite abundant such as the Hawaiian Dascyllus which then to gather in schools that hide in corals.  They may be swimming around above a staghorn coral but when you approach they will all swoop down into the coral head to hide from you.  If you back off a little bit they will all start to rise up above the coral head again.  Sometimes you will find them exhibiting some very strange looking behavior  that almost looks like they are shivering or have an itch and are trying to scratch themselves against the coral or some rock underneath the coral but if you look very closely you may see some purplish bumps that are actually eggs and you have been watching the parent Hawaiian Dascyllus aerating the eggs and tending to the babies.  One of the other endemic fishes that you will see often when you dive the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers is the Potter’s Angelfish.  It is a very beautiful fish with vivid red sides mixed with black and vivid blue trim.  I say you will see them when you dive the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers but usually at first from a distance.  The Potter’s Angelfish is very shy and it swims in and out of the corals and rocks but if they see divers coming they tend to zoom into the holes in the rocks or corals and hide but if you are patient they will eventually come out again and continue on with their business.  They are sometimes mistaken for the flame angel which is another brightly red colored angelfish that is not endemic but is also very shy and will quickly hide into the corals and rocks when a diver is near.  Many times when diving the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers a diver will see a flash of red zip down into the reef and hide and it is hard to tell if that bit of red was a Potter’s Angelfish or a Flame Angelfish but if you are patient and can wait to see the whole fish come out of the reef you can easily tell them apart.  The Saddleback Wrasse is also frequently seen when diving the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers usually in schools.  The Saddleback Wrasse is unique to Hawaii but other areas of the Pacific Ocean have wrasses with the same body pattern, a large band of contrasting color about mid-body, but the colors are very different.  The Saddleback Wrasse of Hawaii is mostly dark blue in the body and a blue face with a wide red band at mid-body followed by a thinner white band at mid-body.  The Psychedelic Wrasse is a beautiful fish with the male having a red face with white lines on it that look like someone scribbled on its face.  The male Psychedelic Wrasse usually is found with a harem of female fish that are following him around.  In contrast the female Psychedelic Wrasses  are basically black with tiny white dots all over the body that looks nothing like the male Psychedelic Wrasse.  If you didn’t know ahead of time you would think they were two different fishes although this difference in appearance of male and female fish of the same species is quite common as it is in many different animal species.  If you want to see wonders that you will see nowhere else in the world go Diving on the Big Island of Hawaii with Kona Honu Divers and enjoy all the islands unique ocean life.