It’s sea turtle nesting season on Maui and the US Fish & Wildlife Service is asking the public’s help in tracking the animals’ activities. Hawksbill and green sea turtles began their 2017 nesting season along Maui beaches in June. As endangered and threatened species, the success of their nests is crucial for the survival of these native honu.
As sea turtles emerge onto beaches to lay their eggs, they leave distinctive three-foot wide tracks behind in the sand. USFWS, Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources (DLNR DAR) and the Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) ask you to please immediately report any sightings of nesting turtles, fresh turtle tracks or nest hatchlings on beaches around the island.
USFWS’s “Dawn Patrol” volunteers walk key beaches every morning from June 1 to September 30 to search for tracks that nesting turtles leave in the sand. USFWS, DLNR DAR and HWF work collectively and alongside volunteers to identify, mark and protect sea turtle nests; collect nesting data; and share their knowledge with beachgoers on how to help conserve sea turtles.
The collaborative effort reminds us to respect the sea turtles by staying at least 30 feet away from a nesting turtle and watch quietly, as they’re easily disturbed. Please stay at least 15 feet away from a basking (resting, not nesting) green turtle and do not disturb it. Please do not pick up hatchlings and put them in the ocean; they need to crawl into the ocean on their own to set their navigational compass and increase their chance of survival.
Also, remember to keep your dogs on a leash when walking on Maui beaches. And USFWS reminds us to not remove or tamper with the sea turtle barrier fence along North Kihei highway which protects nesting sea turtles from crawling onto the highway.
If you spot a nesting turtle, hatchlings, turtle tracks or a turtle in trouble, contact one of these organizations immediately: DLNR DAR, Skippy Hau, 808-243-5294, Skippy.Hau@hawaii.gov; USFWS, Courtney Brown, 808-268-6316, firstname.lastname@example.org; or HWF, Hannah Bernard, 808-280-8124, email@example.com.
Photo courtesy Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex