As Hawaii’s sea turtles, or honu, begin their summer nesting season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking residents and visitors to respect turtles making their way to Hawaii’s shorelines.
While 90 percent of Hawaii’s sea turtle population will travel to the French Frigate Shoals in the Northern Hawaiian Islands to reproduce, a number of the protected animals are expected to nest on the coastlines of the main Hawaiian Islands this summer. These turtles might be seen mating in near-shore waters, or basking on local beaches.
Beachgoers are asked to view the honu from a distance and refrain from chasing them. The turtles are also sensitive to bright lights and should not be subjected to flash photography, vehicle lights or exterior building lights.
The green and hawksbill turtles are the two species of Hawaiian sea turtle known to nest in the islands. Both species have made a tremendous rebound in population since the animals came under protection from the state and federal government in the 1970s.
Female turtles reach maturity at age 30 and nest every two to three years. During the summer nesting season, each female turtle returns to the beach where she originally hatched to lay approximately three clutches of 100 eggs. Turtles deposit their eggs in shallow nests dug into the sand or under beach vegetation.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center has set up a turtle stranding hot line at 983-5730 to process calls from the public. Hawaii residents and visitors are encouraged to report sightings of turtles digging nests on local beaches as well as turtles with visible signs of injury or distress.