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A unique fish that inhabits the waters of Maui is the Bird Wrasse, or Hinalea i’iwi as its known by its Hawaiian name. The Bird Wrasse is identifiable by its elongated beak which is used to catch long, skinny prey which it then holds captive while breaking it up into bite-size pieces. The female is brownish black, and the male is variations of green. For this reason the male is often called the Green Bird Wrasse, and the female, the Black or Brown Bird Wrasse. At maturity males grow to 12 inches, and females to 8 inches. Keep your eyes out for this fish while snorkeling.

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Part of the Antipathariidae family of coral, the Brown Wire Coral is one of the more uncommon types of coral living in Maui. It is unlikely that you will see this while snorkeling the reefs in Maui as it grows in deep current-swept areas. It is reddish brown in color and has short polyps restricted to one side. It grows to be about 5 feet tall in the form of a wire.

Take care of the coral in Maui:

Corals may grow as little as 1/4 inch per year and are prone to damage by anchors, swimmers, and divers. Take care when swimming or snorkeling and avoid touching live coral. The delicate flesh of coral can be injured if pressed, even lightly, against the razor-sharp skeleton, allowing infection or algae to take hold, weakening and potentially killing the colony. It is illegal to remove live corals without a scientific collecting permit in the state of Hawaii.

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One of the less common species of coral to be found in Maui is Papyrus Coral, or Leptoseris papyracea as its known by its scientific name. Its habitat includes inter-reef areas on soft horizontal substrates where there is little sediment movement, but occasionally occurs in shallow habitats between the branches of other corals. It is less commonly seen while snorkeling, however in the areas that it does grow, it is usually the dominate species. Papyrus Coral has a pale brown upper surface with a pale brown or white undersurface.

Take care of the coral in Maui:

Corals may grow as little as 1/4 inch per year and are prone to damage by anchors, swimmers, and divers. Take care when swimming or snorkeling and avoid touching live coral. The delicate flesh of coral can be injured if pressed, even lightly, against the razor-sharp skeleton, allowing infection or algae to take hold, weakening and potentially killing the colony. It is illegal to remove live corals without a scientific collecting permit in the state of Hawaii.

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Endemic to Hawaiian Islands and the surrounding island waters is the the Bluestriped Butterfly fish, or Chaetodon fremblii as its known by its scientific name. Also known as the Bluelined Fremblii Butterfly, or by its Hawaiian name Lau Hau, this fish is most often found at depths of 30-50 feet in beds of long finger coral, along coral ledges and sand channels. While snorkeling in Maui it can be found in shallower areas of the reef as well. Growing to a mature size of five inches, this fish is distinctive by its yellow colored body featuring 8 blue stripes running diagonally from head to tail. To distinguish it from other species of butterfly fish, there is no black vertical bar that surrounds the eye.

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As summer approaches, the snorkeling conditions on Maui are usually great, and this week should feature calmer weather with not much wind and not much rain in the forecast. Waters to the south of Lahaina around the Olowalu area have been very low exposing some of the reef. Water on the upper west side have been very calm, clear and most inviting to snorkelers. By May 1st we should see the wind begin to pick up again.

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