Three of my favorite fish are the Frogfish, Thornback Cowfish and the Green Hawaiian Lionfish. These fish can be camouflaged, hard to see and/or hard to find. Recently however, I have seen them with more than normal frequency.
The Thornback Cowfish is in the boxfish family. Like other boxfish, they have a hard protective carapace and can only move their fins, eyes, and mouth. The Thornback gets more beautiful the closer you are to it. Getting a close look, however, can be tricky because it is very bashful and kind of a tease! It does its best job to keep at least six feet between you and itself, and always seems to give me backward glances as it moves away. Despite its gold eyes and bright blue spots, it is hard to spot because it has a great hover and doesn’t move much on the rubble, where it likes to hang out. While not a common fish, I have had some great success recently seeing them at Wailea Point near the north mooring. Keawakapu is another place that I have seen them on several occasions in 20-30 feet of water.
The Frogfish is a Maui favorite for many, and for good reason! Just recently, I saw five baby frogfish at Makena Landing. All have been bright yellow with a small brown spot near their dorsal fin. I have also seen a great rust orange frogfish swimming in the open sand at Makena. While seeing them exposed like that is rare, seeing them use their jet propulsion is a highlight! The Carthaginian has some great lime green/pink frogfish on it. Ulua has many, and sometimes you can see two hanging out together. Usually, they are a dull green, but many color variations are possible. They can slowly change their color to match their surroundings. Typically, I have found that when I look for them, I am not as successful as when I just keep an open eye on rock outcroppings and stumble over one.
My other favorite fish is the Green Hawaiian Lionfish which are also hard to find and can be hard to see even when they are in your line of sight. These little guys also have amazing colors: rich greens, browns and tans with orange highlights and blood red eyes. They also can cast a backward glance from their vantage point, which is usually from under an overhang or crack. These endemic lionfish also like the rubble off of the main reef. While I have seen them mostly while night diving Makena Landing, recently they have also been at the satellite reef west of the north mooring at Wailea Point. In fact, the last shore dive I did from Wailea Point, I saw both a Thornback and Green Hawaiian Lion! In addition, the last time I did a boat dive from Wailea Point there were TWO Green Lionfish inside of the satellite reef, side by side!
So if you would like to see these guys for yourself, GET OUT THERE AND DIVE! Wailea Point is a huge reef and there is a lot to explore. In addition, Makena has lots of lava fingers to search and is a very shallow dive, so you can search for close to two hours if you’re good on your air. If you want to get right to the highlights, anyone here at Maui Dreams would love to take you out for a guided dive and point these critters out for you as well as teach you how to dive these sites, so you can go back and explore again on your own.
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Mahalo to Tropical Oasis Photography for the Hawaiian Lionfish photo!
Wanna get started on that diving?