Even though Molokini boasts some of the world’s best underwater visibility for snorkeling and diving, this isn't something you see around its waters every day.
During a morning diving excursion over the weekend, a group with Maui Dreams Dive Co. came across an awesomely gorgeous sight—a whale shark cruising on the inside section of the crater at 20 feet below sea level.
The video was posted on the Facebook account, Ocean Defender, by first-time diver Sarah Mucha. The docile shark was a female and estimated to be about 20 to 25 feet in length. That size comes into even clearer perspective when compared against the other divers in the video dwarfed by its majesty.
"I was in front of her and the crowd, and when I saw her I just sat there for a minute in absolute awe," Mucha told HAWAIʻI Magazine. "It has always been high on my bucket list to swim with a whale shark, and I was actually looking at booking a trip to Mexico. Little did I know that I would see a whale shark on my first official boat dive!" The whale shark had been circling the crater for at least a few hours, Mucha said.
As the captain of the boat, Captain Don, started to approach Molokini, he had been notified over the radio about a whale shark in the area. Because it was April 1, "my first thought was 'April Fools!'" Mucha said. It was at their first dive site, however, when divers quickly realized it wasn't a joke. As soon as they got in the water, they witnessed the whale shark rounding the inside of the crater toward their group.
While diving at their second site at another section of Molokini, they glimpsed the whale shark again swimming above their group.
Captain Don echoed the rarity of the sighting, saying he had traveled all over the world and seen whale sharks in a few spots, but never personally in Hawaii, until now.
At first, Mucha almost didn’t even take the plunge citing nervousness, despite having received her diving creditials years ago. As a result she saw a lesson in this moment with Mother Nature. "It was an absolute life changing experience," she said. "Maui showed me so much aloha for conquering my fears and taking the plunge to scuba dive that I put off for several years."