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Pakaloha Wildlife Corner: All About Turtles

turtle

 

When you close your eyes and think about Hawaiian wildlife, what do you see? No doubt, one of the first things that came to mind is the iconic Hawaiian green sea turtle. These peaceful creatures can be seen bobbing around the coral reef and relaxing on sandy beaches.   How much do you know about these wonderful creatures? Let’s find out.

  • The Hawaiian word for Green Sea Turtle is Honu. In Hawaiian culture, they represent wisdom and good luck. They feature in many Hawaiian legends and sometimes come in the form of ‘Aumakua’—a kind of guardian spirit for Hawaiian families.
  • Green Sea Turtles are an endangered species.   While they have recently been making a comeback, they are still a heavily protected species. As such, it is important to respect these ancient creatures. It is illegal to touch a sea turtle, so when you see one swimming by, keep your hands to yourself.
  • Sea turtles are old—like REALLY old. According to National Geographic, the lifespan of a wild sea turtle can be up to 80 years. However, there are many threats to sea turtles, including fishing nets, plastic, and pollution. It is important to pay attention to your plastic use and always remember to recycle to keep waste from reaching the ocean.
  • Sea Turtles come up on land to lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles make their way to the water on their own. On beaches known to host turtle eggs, it is important to keeps the environment dark. Otherwise, the babies can get confused and go in the wrong direction!
  • If you want to see turtles in Hawaii, you need good eyes and a little bit of luck. They can frequently be found napping on the sand, protected by a swarm of local volunteers. As always, it is important to be respectful of the local wildlife. You can also spot them out in the water out snorkeling! Since turtles are reptiles, not fish, they need to come up to breathe. If you pay attention, you can see their heads popping out of the water!

I hope you’ve found new found respect for one of Hawai’i’s most famous residents!  Next time you see one swimming by, wave hello.  It might just wave a fin right back.