The Pearl, The Hermes, and the Menacing Monk Seal

Pearl and Hermes Atoll is named after a pair of ship wrecks: the Pearl and the Hermes. The Pearl and Hermes were both whaling ships that crashed in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 1822. Whaling was quite common in the NWHI in the 1800’s and apparently so was crashing into the atolls. Many whaling vessels have wrecked in the NWHI. Last year, I was part of the ship wreck team and was privileged to get to dive on many of these wrecks.

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Some shipwreck pictures from last year.

Dive ops at Pearl and Hermes were quite eventful. I found all of my sites (woohoo!), deployed all my blocks, saw at least 15 sharks, hundreds of angry ulua, and a menacing monk seal. People usually think that big furry mammals, like monk seals, are all cute and cuddly.  Well after Pearl and Hermes I’d have to disagree. We were visited by seal number 618 (yes it had a number tattooed to its body) at one of our sites and he was less than enthused that we dropped in for a visit.  He swam in a little too close for comfort, arched its back, and began to growl at us. We decided to cut the dive short and let this mean, endangered monk seal continue on.  But later we showed him because we went back in the afternoon and finished our work just minutes before he came back.  Science Wins! 😉 So if you are ever diving at Pearl and Hermes beware of the menacing monk seal number 618.

He may look cute....

Big ulua, or Giant Trevally, are common throughout the NWHI and at Pearl and Hermes they seem to be quite undaunted by our presence. These large, bold fish were circling us on every dive.

Picture by M. Donahue

Needless to say, the two days at this atoll were very exciting. 🙂

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2 responses to “The Pearl, The Hermes, and the Menacing Monk Seal

  1. arlene Silbiger

    How brave you are! I’ll be sure not to dive at Pearl and Hermes or anywhere else!
    I remembered the photos of the shipwrecks from last year.
    Have fun!
    Love you,
    Grandma A.

  2. Pingback: The return of the monk seal! | It's Not Boring…

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