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Maui marine creatures among survivors of tsunami

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 9:31 a.m. HST, Mar 26, 2011


WAILUKU >> With some human help, a 200-pound sea turtle and fish were among the survivors of the tsunami that struck Maui this month.

A teenager spotted the adult female sea turtle crawling in a drainage canal near a Kmart in Kahului, said Skippy Hau, an aquatic biologist.

Three days after the Japan earthquake spawned the tsunami, Hau and other wildlife researchers went to investigate and were relieved to find the turtle in good shape.

"She was healthy," Hau told The Maui News.

They placed the sea turtle in the back of a truck with a wet towel over its head to keep it calm. He and his colleagues then released the turtle at Kanaha Beach Park.

Hau said it was the third turtle found washed ashore by a wave in the Kanaha area.

After the tsunami, Hau checked Maui shorelines and discovered numerous dead fish including tilapia and aholehole, a type of saltwater fish.

He said the scene was not unexpected and he had anticipated seeing more.

Glenn Wirth came across several aholehole in a Kahului bank parking lot almost a week after the ocean surge.

"They were still really frisky and alive," Wirth said.

Wirth snared them and returned them to a freshwater canal near the harbor.

Hau said recent rain and flooding may have washed some marine creatures through drainage canals into the oceans. The tsunami simply would have sent them on the shore.

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