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About 75 Percent of Marine Animals Glow

Bioluminescence is not only predominant, but equally so throughout all the ocean's layers.
April 21, 2017

About 75 Percent of Marine Animals Glow


Hawaii's marine life comes in a rainbow of colors, from the black and yellow hues of our butterflyfish to the red and blue tints of our parrotfish. These vibrant creatures keep guests coming for our Maui snorkel tours time and time again. Their flashy colors wouldn't exist without the sunlight, and all its various wavelengths bouncing around and reflecting back at us. But what happens in the dark? Light can only penetrate to 656 feet into the ocean. Now, consider that the average depth of the ocean is about 14,000 feet. You can just imagine how much of the ocean's residents live in complete darkness. Well, almost complete darkness. As it turns out, glowing marine life is more common than scientists originally thought.

Based on some recent discoveries, scientists have found that an incredible three-quarters of marine animals create their own light, which is known as bioluminescence. On April 4, 2017, a study published in the journal Scientific Reports helped to quantify how many species are capable of producing light.

It turns out that the majority of sea life can glow, including jellyfish, squids, worms, and many others, not just the popularized angler fish that lures prey with their little flashing lights. Scientists are also starting to look more carefully at which species are bright versus dim. Most are subtle with their glow, which made their abilities easy to miss, especially given the limitations of many camera types. Also, when you're in an environment with no outside light source, a little of your own goes a long way. Most of these creatures are careful with their light levels, because they don't want to attract predators by being too flashy. In fact, many can turn their lights off when they're feeling cautious.

One of the most fascinating aspects of these recent discoveries is that the researchers found that bioluminescence included approximately 75 percent of creatures across all layers of the ocean, not just the deeper waters. This was just as surprising to scientists as everyone else, because it was commonly assumed that deep dwellers were more likely to glow. Since their research has only been performed in Monterey Bay, off the coast of California, there's always a chance that the percentages will shift as more locations are studied around the world. That being said, if depth isn't a factor, we may soon find out that the vibrant Hawaiian marine life that flourishes in our coral reefs is a little more brilliant than we thought.

The study found that the largest of these bioluminescent creatures were the jellyfish and siphonophores (like the Portuguese man 'o war). In fact, 99 percent of the species in those groups were found to produce light. As if people didn't find jellyfish mesmerizing enough! The biggest share of the glow found specifically between 4,920 feet and 7,380 feet actually came from marine worms. Below 7,380 feet, around half the bioluminescent organisms were larvaceans, free-swimming little filter feeders.

Another exciting part of the study to consider is that bioluminescence may be able to help marine scientists estimate the number of animals in the deep ocean. Once they find out the proportion of animals that glow, they could possibly measure the brightness of the surrounding bioluminescence to estimate the total number of individuals in the area.

If you happen to be a fellow marine life enthusiast and you want to learn more, you can read about the study published in Scientific Reports. In the meantime, we hope to see you aboard one of our Hawaii snorkeling tours.

Booking a Private Charter for Your Maui Corporate Retreat

From private snorkeling trips to sunset dinner cruises and whale watch tours, we have you covered.
April 14, 2017


Maui is a wonderful place for a corporate retreat, especially if you want your employees to know that they deserve something special in terms of a destination. It's tough to top Maui in terms of enjoyment, and that's a big factor that helps boost your other activities, such as team building exercises. In the mix, there are fabulous accommodations, balmy temperatures, unparalleled natural beauty, and of course, the activities. That's where we might be the perfect fit for your needs.

Although we do normally book many small groups per outing on our tours, we often accommodate private Maui ocean tour activities. We've done sunset dinner cruises for weddings, snorkel tours for big groups of families and friends, and we have many options for tours that include groups visiting for corporate retreats and conferences. Booking an ocean activity provides a wonderfully intimate group setting where everyone gets to have fun in the moment while strengthening working relationships and sometimes networking.

With that in mind, consider a few possibilities. A private Molokini Snorkeling Tour, a private Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise, or a private Maui Whale Watching Tour. Have your own creative tour idea in mind, or looking for a specific kind of outing? Give us a call, and we'll work out the details to find out if we can make it happen!

Do some people in your group get seasick? We operate out of the scenic Lahaina Harbor in West Maui, where the waters are often remarkably calm when the weather is pleasant, which it usually is. Not only that, but our boats were specially designed with stability in mind. Their size is another asset in terms of a smooth ride. For example, our Maui Princess, a 120' yacht, is the largest boat operating in Lahaina.

We have the capability to provide the smoothest ride off Maui's coastlines and to accommodate more guests than many of the other tour companies. Our fleet includes the Maui Princess, Kaulana of Maui, Lahaina Princess, Prince Kuhio and Molokai Princess. With so many delightful crafts to choose from, you're sure to find one that suits your needs. In terms of availability, it helps us if you book as far ahead of time as you can. That way we can avoid issues with scheduling. If you have any questions about our tours, private or no, you'll find our contact information at the top of the page. We would be happy to assist you! Mahalo!

A Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise for Your Easter Holiday

Undecided on how you want to spend Easter? A Maui sunset dinner cruise may be the perfect activity!
April 07, 2017

A Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise for Your Easter Holiday


Undecided on your Easter Sunday plans? If you're going to be spending your holiday here on the island, it's true you'll find a long list of choices, but what could be better than a Maui dinner cruise at sunset aboard Lahaina's biggest yacht, the Maui Princess? Not only is she the biggest, but also designed with state-of-the-art technology to provide you with the smoothest possible ride, so you can take in the flaming sunset views and enjoy your delicious dinner while gliding serenely through the glassy waters off Lahaina's coastline.

You'll be seated at one of our all premium upper deck tables where you can enjoy the views to the fullest and soak in a whole new perspective on the majestic West Maui Mountains. Our menu options currently include your choice of one of the following four entrees:

  • Prime rib (carved on board)
  • Roasted chicken
  • Macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi fillet with buerre blanc sauce
  • Vegetarian patty with marinara sauce

The following sides will be included:

  • Garden salad with croutons & papaya seed dressing
  • New potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Dinner rolls
  • Cheesecake with seasonal fruit glaze

After you enjoy your sunset dinner, a myriad of twinkling stars will begin to appear in the sky, along with all the dazzling little lights of Lahaina, and the neighboring islands. This is when the live music tends to inspire dancing, helped along by our full bar. Three alcoholic beverages are included with your trip with a valid photo ID, but you can purchase more for $4 - $6 each if you choose. Just make sure to plan for safe travel back to your accommodations!

Speaking of travel, if you're coming from South Maui, we recommend giving yourself an hour to get here, just to be safe. If in West Maui, we recommend giving yourself a half-hour for driving. To simplify your plans, you may want to see our Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise page for details on our courtesy bus service in both the South Maui and West Maui areas. Check-in time is from 4:45 to 5:00 p.m. daily. Currently, if you book online, you can save 10% off your ticket, which comes out to $80.95 per adult.

Don't forget that we operate out of the lovely Lahaina Harbor, adjacent to the Front Street Banyan Tree. That means that you can plan to explore the many charms of Lahaina Town before your cruise. You'll find delightful boutiques, colorful art galleries, and fascinating museums and historic sites all around, not to mention the tranquil ocean that runs along this delightful beach town. We should have you back in the harbor by 8:00 p.m., so you may still be able to do some exploring afterwards, depending on the day you choose to take the cruise with us. We hope you have an unforgettable evening aboard the Maui Princess! Mahalo!

Whale Tales 2017 a Success for Hawaii Whale Research

We were proud to host a benefit whale watch and present Whale Trust with $4,000 this year.
March 31, 2017

Whale Tales 2017 a Success for Hawaii Whale Research

If you've had a chance to read our recent posts, you'll know that we participated in Whale Tales 2017, which we are pleased to say was a smashing success. The four-day event was educational, stimulating, and a whole lot of fun. There were some terrific presentations by marine scientists who are experts in their field, guests enjoyed wonderful entertainment, and the benefit Maui whale watches saw an amazing turnout in terms of both the guests and the whales.

We were happy to use our Maui Princess as a benefit whale watching vessel, which was especially rewarding, being that it's the largest boat in Lahaina Harbor at no less than 120 feet in length. This gave us the honor of kicking off the event by bringing 100 like-minded marine life enthusiasts out on an especially fun whale watch. It was a real treat for us, knowing we're all on the same page with the importance of these majestic creatures and the health of the ocean. To top it all off, we got to enjoy the delightful musical stylings of Uncle Wayne.

The proceeds from the benefit whale watch outings went to the Whale Trust Maui, a vital non-profit organization that supports whale research. Their mission is to collaborate with researchers on Maui and throughout the Pacific to learn more about whales and the health of the marine environment in which they live. Because they're the largest mammals in the ocean, the health of their populations can tell us a lot about the health of the world's oceans.

Not only did we decide to use the Maui Princess to benefit Whale Trust, but we also presented them with a $4,000 contribution to help them continue their good work. These funds were gathered through memberships, the donations of our guests, along with the profits from our retail and snack sales over this year's whale watch season from our Kaulana, Maui Princess, and Lahaina Princess vessels. We see contributions like these as a crucial investment in the future health of the world's marine environments as well as our own, and are proud that we can help facilitate these efforts.

Through our 100% Research Direct program, we support four carefully selected recipients, and Whale Trust is one of them. As our very own Captain Dave H. Jung stated at this year's Whale Tales event, "We have an immediate need for our community to support legitimate and peer-reviewed research on Hawaii's whales, dolphins, and marine ecosystem." If you'd like to be a part of these efforts, you can get started by visiting whaletrust.org, and by joining us aboard one of our Maui ocean tours! Mahalo!

Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours

How to identify the many exciting behaviors of humpback whales.
March 24, 2017

Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours


Humpback whale watching season is still going strong here on Maui, and while some individuals have begun their yearly migration back to their summer feeding grounds off the Alaskan coast, many others won't depart until late April or perhaps early May. That means if you're on a spring vacation, there's still time to hop on one of our Maui whale watch cruises.

Last week, we talked about a new behavior seen among southern humpback whales, which involves massive groups of up to 200 feeding off the southern coast of South Africa. While we're on the subject of whale behaviors, we'd like to give you a handy guide to some of the maneuvers that you might spot while aboard one of our tours, or perhaps even from a good vantage point on land.

As you may have already learned, humpbacks come to Hawaii during the winter and spring months to breed and give birth to their calves. Mating behavior is quite the boisterous activity, with in-season females taking small groups of males on a merry chase where they each jostle each other out of the way in order to stay at the head of the pack. Sometimes, the males can get quite rough with each other, but most of the behaviors we see are much more relaxed than this kind of event. Here are the terms describing common whale behaviors.


Blow – This is the most common whale sign that you're going to see. Humpbacks come up for air every 10-15 minutes, and when they release their breath, a spout of moisture is blown away from the whale's blowhole, allowing for a clear new water-free breath to be taken in. If you track the spouts, you'll be more likely to spot one of the more flashy behaviors. Calves come up every 3-5 minutes, making them even easier to track.

Tail Slap – Sometimes, a whale will lift its tail fin up high out of the water, and slap it down on the water's surface. This causes quite a splash, not to mention an interesting sound both above and below the surface. Marine scientists think this signal is a warning.

Head Rise or Spy Hop – Once in a while, we'll see a whale come straight up to the surface in a vertical position and poke its head up out of the water. Because the whale's eye comes up above the surface, marine scientists have theorized that the whale is doing this to get a look at what's happening above the surface. Hence the term "spy hop." Our whale watching guests often have a lot of fun with the idea that while we're watching the whales, they're watching us. After all, curiosity is a trait that's shared among humans and animals alike.

Head Lunge – Now just imagine the spy hop behavior, but less vertical. In this case, the whale will come up to the surface at an angle, thrust its head out of the water, and bring it down forcefully. This has been observed as a competitive display. Remember that mating behavior we were talking about earlier? Males will sometimes do this while vying for breeding rights with the female.

Pec Slap – Sometimes whales will lift their pectoral fin out of the water and slap it down on the surface. Sometimes they will do this with one fin, but sometimes both at once. Scientists think this is a communication or signal to other whales. Mother whales are often seen performing this action when traveling with a young baby, and has been observed frequently in stormy weather. This may help calves locate their mothers when visibility is poor.

Peduncle Slap – This is like the tail slap, only much more enthusiastic. The whale will send a good portion of its tail end up out of the water, and slam it down on the surface with considerable force.

Fluke Up Dive – In this instance, the tail flukes come up, but without any slapping action. The tail simply arches up out of the water and slips down again below the surface. This happens when a whale is maneuvering down in a dive from the surface area.

Breach – Last but not least, the famous breach. When you see a whale's entire body come hurtling up out of the water to come slamming back down on the surface with a magnificent splash, you've witnessed a breach. This acrobatic display could be done for many reasons, but it certainly would be an ideal way to keep the skin free of smaller marine critters looking for a free ride.


Hopefully now you'll have an easier time identifying those exciting aerial whale behaviors that have made whale watching one of the most celebrated activities on Maui! We hope to have you aboard one of our tours soon, so you can witness these exciting behaviors firsthand with your friends and family. Mahalo!

Blogs for April 2017

About 75 Percent of Marine Animals Glow

Posted on April 21, 2017
About 75 Percent of Marine Animals Glow


Hawaii's marine life comes in a rainbow of colors, from the black and yellow hues of our butterflyfish to the red and blue tints of our parrotfish. These vibrant creatures keep guests coming for our Maui snorkel tours time and time… Continue Reading

Booking a Private Charter for Your Maui Corporate Retreat

Posted on April 14, 2017

Maui is a wonderful place for a corporate retreat, especially if you want your employees to know that they deserve something special in terms of a destination. It's tough to top Maui in terms of enjoyment, and that's a big factor that helps boost your other activities, such as… Continue Reading

A Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise for Your Easter Holiday

Posted on April 07, 2017
A Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise for Your Easter Holiday


Undecided on your Easter Sunday plans? If you're going to be spending your holiday here on the island, it's true you'll find a long list of choices, but what could be better than a Maui dinner cruise at sunset… Continue Reading

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Our Latest Blogs

About 75 Percent of Marine Animals Glow
  (Posted: April 21, 2017)

Booking a Private Charter for Your Maui Corporate Retreat
  (Posted: April 14, 2017)

A Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise for Your Easter Holiday
  (Posted: April 07, 2017)

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