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Sent inland by tsunami, turtle saved

WAILUKU, Maui >> 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 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 might have washed some marine creatures through drainage canals into the ocean. The tsunami simply would have deposited them on the shore.

Ford ponies on parade

Ford Mustang owners from across Oahu will display their vehicles today at the 19th annual Mustang Madness All Ford Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mike McKenna’s Windward Ford, 725 Kailua Road. There is no spectator admission charge. Donations will be collected to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii. For details, go to www.alohamustang.com.
 

NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Dampness helps slow Kilauea fire

Fire crews continued their methodical confinement of the Napau fire on the slopes of Kilauea Volcano yesterday, making sure that drier conditions expected over the next week do not lead to a resurgence of the blaze.

The fire, which was triggered by a lava flow on March 5, has blackened some 2,000 acres but has been slowed in recent days by relatively wet conditions.

Roughly half of the fire is considered contained and crews have kept the blaze within its existing perimeters, according to Olympic National Park’s Todd Rankin, who assumed command of Napau fire operations yesterday.

“Persistence performing mop-up is essential, especially in these kinds of fuels, as just one source of heat could get this fire going again with the predicted drying trend next week,” Rankin said.

Engine and hand crews scouted the Kealakomo and Naula areas to make sure that the fire did not spread to vegetation surrounded by lava flows near the southern flank.

Infrared mapping conducted late Friday indicated that most of the fire is contained mostly on the southeast perimeter in logs, standing dead trees, stumps, roots and large areas of dead vegetation.

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