Pearl & Hermes

i-4a0ca66c1aa81bfa6a2cab31e847c2e0-Pearl_hermesISS006-E-37899-thumb-220x162-54159.pngFor the past five days, I have been snorkeling and diving at Pearl & Hermes Atoll. P & H is one of the prettiest places I have ever been - stunning, vibrant reefs, calm, blue waters - the works. It's stupid pretty. The atoll has the highest standing stock of fish and the highest number of fish species in the entire Northwest Hawaiian Islands - and you can tell the minute you're in the water.

Pearl & Hermes.jpg

It's an atoll in the truest sense, in that most of it is underwater, with only a handful of small, sandy islands fringing its edges. While the reef covers over 194,000 acres, only 80 of that is above sea level.

Out at Pearl & Hermes, you almost forget that civilization exists. You can look at the stunning blue-green water, reefs swarming with fish, and get a look back at what the Hawaiian islands might have looked like before people made their mark.


Anchor of the Pearl.jpgHowever, even in this remote paradise the scars of people can be found. The atoll itself is named after two whaleships that wrecked on the reef in 1822. At least six other vessels have crashed there since. For a long time, it was exploited for the pearl trade, even though because of its lack of land mass it was spared some of the harsher treatment given other islands and atolls in the Norwestern Hawaiian Islands. And in 2003 over 90 tons of marine debris was removed from the reefs there.

Every once in a while you'll come upon a net, plastic bottle, or other bit of trash. There's something truly disheartening to see garbage in this stunning tropical setting, and it reminds you that our actions have consequences that ripple far further than we might think.

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I have never been snorkeling but it's something I have long since had a fascination with doing it. It's a great way to connect with God's creations.

Wow! Just from that single picture, so many fish in one area and so much LIVE coral!

That picture with all the fish is amazing.

It looks spectacular. Is this part of the area that just got UNESCO listed, Papahanaumokuakea? (and don't think I am clever for spelling that, I just copied it off the news article!)

Thank you for the pictures. What you say reminds me of something I read about Mount Everest, that there's a pile of trash on it from all the climbers. How sad.

I have fond memories of snorkeling in the Gulf of Thailand some 15 years ago. Love to get the opportunity to do it again. An uplifting and relaxing experience of mighty Poseidon's province.

I remember the first time I dove on a reef. I really couldn't see it because there was just a blur of so much color and motion. It took me a few seconds to start seeing individual fish, corals, etc. Diving on a reef, even if you don't know the creatures by name, is a fantastic experience.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 05 Aug 2010 #permalink

It is true that there are few places left where humans' tentacles do not reach thanks to pollution, litter, and deforestation. It may cheapen the experience and be an unwelcome intrusion, but that is still an amazing place. Too bad it could not be as pristine as it once was.

These information which you can share is really great. These all pictures are really great. It took me a few seconds to start seeing individual fish, corals, etc. These is one of the fantastic experience.