Meet Hawai‘i’s Sea TurtlesO‘ahu
The gentle, lumbering PACIFIC GREEN SEA TURTLE makes its home in Hawaiian waters. These huge, threatened creatures, which can grow to 4 feet and weigh up to 400 pounds, feed on limu (seaweed) that grows on rocks in shallow areas. The turtles, known as honu in Hawaiian, are referred to as green not for the color of the algae growing on their backs, but for the color of their meat.
It’s common to get a look at a green sea turtle, but it is rare to come across the nearly extinct HAWKSBILL SEA TURTLE. While Hawai‘i‘s green sea turtle population has shown good recovery in recent years, the Hawaiian hawksbill population is estimated at fewer than 30 nesting turtles. The Hawaiian hawksbill turtle is named for its sharp, beak-like mouth but is known for its beautiful exterior shell, which was exploited for “tortoise shell” for many years by the fashion industry.
A good way to
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Be mindful that sea turtles are protected by law. If you spot one, give it 10 to 15 feet of space and allow room for it to surface and breathe.
It’s against the law to approach, chase, surround, touch or swim with any protected marine mammal. To report suspected violations, call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.
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