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First Family enjoys snorkeling in Hawaii

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Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii, is one of the most treasured dive locations that Hawaii has to offer. Nestled beneath the beautiful and vast blue ocean, you can find over 450 different species of tropical fish, some only found in this particular territory. The coral reefs are absolutely ravishing as marine preservation is the top priority and environmental protection is underway by limiting the vast amount of tourists that visit the reef annually. The expansive white sand beach is a definite draw that is difficult to resist.

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Since 1990, the city and county have been trying to restore the health of the reef – limiting the number of visitors after a time when they allowed some 3 million a year which in turn created substantial damage to the ecosystem. Hanauma Bay was created by lava flows that began about 40,000 years ago, but the area also has some of the most recent volcanic activity on Oahu. The Bay itself was formed about 32,000 ago by a volcanic vent underwater and is now “a flooded crater,” based on facts located at the Visitor Center.

Snorkeling took on a whole new meaning on New Year's Eve. Mid-morning, the First Family of the United States took a drive with a destination in mind. They were off on a snorkeling expedition. This was not their first encounter. They were familiar with the fact that the reef and preserve are usually closed on Tuesdays so this afforded them a chance to consider it as their own private underwater paradise, if only for a few hours. Sasha and Malia expected chance encounters with yellow tang, raccoon butterflyfish, colorful parrotfish, oval squid, divided flatworm and Christmas Wrasse. This area holds special memories for the Obamas, as in 2011, they released four green sea turtles into the ocean that had been born and raised in captivity up to that point. There is no other coral that can personify such breathtaking beauty as that at Hanauma Bay with finger, mushroon and cauliflower corals being most prevalent.

If we were to ask the Obamas how they enjoyed their outing, they most undoubtedly would describe it as two hours of pure pleasure that they look forward to visiting again when they return.