Snorkeling with a school of fish in Hawai’i

🐟 I just had the most wonderful experience. I left my fins and camera behind and decided to venture over the coral reef with just my snorkel mask. I was alone on the reef. First person to make it to the beach. Before sunrise.

I enjoyed watching all the colorful fish so close, observing them as they plucked on the food growing on the corals. It was interesting to see a giant food particle floating in front of me as 5 different fish across 3 different species took turns plucking at it before moving on.

About 15 mins in, I saw with the corner of my eye a fish which is quite common here. It was smallish, about 6cm long, flat, white, with zebra stripes. But it wasn’t just one. As I turned my gaze towards it, I saw more and more. There were at least a hundred. And just like a herd of zebra, the effect of so many of those fish together was quite scintillating!

It was a school of fish. All fish almost equidistant from each other, moving in unison like one being. And more interestingly, interspersed between them were about 3-4 much larger fish of different species. And they just occupied the spaces in between the smaller fishes. They also moved in unison with the school. I swam along with the school and they welcomed me and didn’t seem to mind me at all (the fish here are very used to humans). I observed as they moved from one part of the reef to the other, like a coordinated dance without any apparent leader.

Diving together to the lower rock, nibbling for a few seconds, and then diving up to the upper rock and doing the same. I tailed them for a while. And they were just a mere inches away from me at most times. I was almost surrounded by them often when they would change course and kinda just run through me.

I didn’t have my camera on me at the time – I have no photos or videos of this. Visually, with the morning sun just out and reflecting off the shiny glistening fish, it definitely was something I would have loved to capture. But it’s even more special as it’s just in my head at this point 🙂

And I’m sure this is common for folks who do this often, but this was the first time for me and it felt magical 🐟

Help me identify this fish? Please leave a comment. Thanks!

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