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Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
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Mission Blog: May 13, 2009
It's the last remnant of the original volcano, but appears like a sailing ship on the horizon.

By Aulani Hall, Scientific Support

Launching small boat.

Crew members of small boat R/V Kaku take one last look at La Pérouse Pinnacle before heading to their next destination. (Photo: NOAA NMSP)

Aboard small boat R/V Kaku, operated by coxswain Sarah A. T. Harris, I was accompanied with Biologists Megan Donahue and Scott Godwin to the steep-sided basalt pinnacle known as "La Pérouse Pinnacle." During our transit on the small boat from the NOAA Ship Hi‘ialakai to the pinnacle, we sighted dolphins, which I believe to have been the rough-toothed dolphin as they were swimming in subgroups of approximately 10 - 12 dolphins. Although the rough-toothed dolphin can be confused with bottlenose, spinner, and spotted dolphins, I believe this is the very first time I've seen a rough-toothed dolphin. Sighting these dolphins in their natural habitat was quite a treat for me.

Continuing our transit to La Pérouse Pinnacle, I couldn’t help but think that we were approaching a sailing ship.  La Pérouse Pinnacle is the remains of an original volcanic cone that stands 122 feet above the sea, and was very noticeable on the horizon, even in the estimated five – seven mile transit that it took for us to arrive near this eroded rock.

At La Pérouse Pinnacle, Biologists Donahue and Godwin searched for lobster tissue specimens and possible alien species. During my snorkel, I sighted an ulua aukea, or giant trevally, a Hawaiian Monk Seal, white tip reef sharks, table-top coral, and a ton of other fishes. My overall experience of La Pérouse Pinnacle felt like I was stepping in and out of time; the marine life is beautiful, but the resemblance of what appears like a sailing ship felt ire.

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