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Discovering Hawaii's underwater protectors

I would be lying to you if I told you that working in the water every day never gets boring. Sometimes all you see is blue. Some other times even Hawaii gets cold and after hours in the water, all you want is to be dry and bundled up in blankets. But nature has a way of leaving you speechless when you least expect it. While there are ways for you to join in on adventures like these, for now, I want to tell you the story of the true, unconventional hunter, and the unexpected protector.

galapagos shark surrounded by fish seekig protection underwater in Hawaii

So, back to the title. I know you probably expect a story about

sharks hunting and some other animal protecting the less fortunate pray, but if photography and nature taught me anything it would be to look for the hidden plot.

I photograph sharks at work daily; fish usually hang around them unbothered. Too fast and too healthy for the sharks to even want to try to steal a bite. Sometimes there will be a lazy chase which could be described more like emotional terrorism and even that ends quickly. The sharks know they won't catch the fish, and the fish goes about its day, a little scared but mostly unfazed. But every once in a while things are very different and underwater photography becomes so fun it's almost intoxicating.

The fish that usually swims randomly all around tightly packs underneath the sharks. That monster depicted by the media as a vicious killer turns into the most unlikely ocean protector, looking more like a school bus than a newsworthy killer. The true hunter hides in the blue, camouflaged almost perfectly. If it wasn’t for the sunlight bouncing off its skin and lighting up the whole school like fireworks you would never see it coming.

It’s tuna. Gliding through the water like shiny bullets, synchronized like a pack of wolves. They are fast enough to outswim the little fish and strike a kill in the bait ball. The beauty of this phenomenal underwater hunter is something that rarely gets the spotlight, and yet, every time they show up everything else disappears in the background. So there you have it. If we are here to discover Hawaii's underwater protectors, the reality is unpopular. The sharks are no more than chaotic eaters ready to clean up the dead and dying, and the tuna is the real, active predator of this story.

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