Posted by: hualalaihale | May 28, 2013

The magnificent Honu (Sea Turtles) of Hawaii

Part of what makes Hawaii unique is the ecology of the islands.  Many plants, animals, and insects are endemic to the archipelago; you won’t find them anywhere else but amongst the sand, surf and rain forests special to the state.  Others can be found throughout the Pacific, but are endangered species; only a small number survive in the world. The Big Island is a wondrous place; it is host to many of Hawaii’s native and endangered species.

Image: Turtles

Hawaiian Honu resting on lava rock at Hualalai
Photo Courtesy of Hualalai Hale

At Hualalai, one of the most frequent visitors to the lava-covered shores is the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.  The green turtle, or Honu in Hawaiian, is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In 1978, the Hawaiian population of the green turtle was listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. You may enjoy watching them, and photographing them, but you must keep a distance of at least 20 feet away.

According to the NOAA,

“Honu are considered sacred to native Hawaiians. In the Hawaiian Islands, there were families that considered the green turtle a personal family deity or aumakua, not to be eaten or harmed. One legendary example is the story from the Big Island of Hawaii of the turtle named Kauila. She was believed to be able to change at will into human form to watch over the village children playing near the shore. Artistic elements of green turtles have also been featured prominently in some cultures of the region, such as petroglyphs and tattoo designs.”

The beaches  at Hualalai Resort are basking grounds for the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas).  The Resort writes,

“The multitude of Green Sea turtles that thrive here enjoy eating the limu (seaweed) off the rocks and resting on the sand or the rocks to warm their bodies in the Kona sun. The National Marine Fisheries turtle scientist, George Balazs, in conjunction with Hawai`i Prepatory Academy, has an ongoing turtle tagging program here at Hualālai Resort. By allowing the group access to this section of the coastline, vital information on Hualālai Resort’s Green Sea Turtle population can be generated.”


Turtle swimming at Hualalai
Photo Courtesy of Hualalai Resort

Staying in the resort is a special experience, and viewing the green sea turtles at  Hualalai is no exception.  But remember to respect the ocean life.  Here is Hualalai Resorts code of conduct:

Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Viewing “Code of Conduct”

  1. Please observe turtles from a distance and allow them a clear escape route to deeper water.
  2. Never entice marine wildlife to approach you.
  3. Do NOT attempt to touch, ride or FEED turtles.
  4. Remain at least 100 yards from humpback whales, and at least 50 yards from other marine mammals (dolphins, other whale species, and Hawaiian monk seals.)
  5. Please keep your distance. Disturbing wildlife interrupts their ability to perform critical functions such as feeding, breeding, nursing, resting or socializing.
  6. Do NOT swim with wild spinner dolphins.
  7. Please do NOT chase, surround or closely approach marine mammals.
  8. Be careful not to surprise marine wildlife. Loud noises and abrupt movements can startle and stress wildlife, which can react unpredictably, harming themselves or you.
  9. Dispose of trash properly. Monofilament fishing lines and other plastic items can entangle and kill marine wildlife. Animals can mistake plastic debris for food, which can be deadly.

Following these rules will ensure your stay at Hualalai Hale to be a pleasant one for both your family and ocean life.



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