We had booked a shark tank dive at the aquarium here in Maui - it has a catch / release program which is great to see. They have a 750,000 gallon tank where they currently house 23 types of sharks/rays. The team that works with these animals are awesome - we met our dive master (Scott) who is a biologist and works with the sharks and we had John helping us out (also a dive master).
They did a behind the scenes tour of how and what they do - very cool. They talked about how the Hawaiian people believe sharks are special and are the totem animal for a lot of clans. They bless each shark that arrives and leaves (alive or dead) and they name each Tiger shark that is captured based on the capture circumstances. The current one's name is Hina.
Not only was this educational, but it was a BLAST. The animals pretty much left us alone, except during traffic jams, sometimes we'd get bumped or if they wanted the muscles we were holding for them...of course there was the very curious hammerhead - just kept circling......he was awesome. No touchy, touchy though - unless they were sleeping on the ground, then you could come pet them on the back. The rays were ok to pet, as long as you came to them from the front or underside where they could see you or otherwise you'd get stung with their stingers (which are left in tact because they are released eventually back to the wild).
|our friendly hammerhead|
|feeding our moochy eagle ray friend|
|really up close and personal|
|grama, grampa and auntie were watching from the other side|
|got bumped by this guy in a traffic jam|
|flying right above my head, a ray|