Saturday, December 28, 2013

Green Sea Turtles Bask in the Sun on a Maui Beach

As we approached a corner section of a secluded Maui beach we saw what appeared from a distance to be quite a few large boulders in different locations on the sand. As we got closer we saw one moving as it made it way out of the ocean and slowly lumber towards the others. We soon realized that the boulders were green sea turtles basking in the late afternoon sun.
"Honu" is the Hawaiian name for turtle and they say if you are lucky enough to see one you will have good luck. Until now I had only seen them while snorkeling and never knew that they actually can come out of the ocean for long periods of time.  We counted 13 turtles in all, but apparently there can be 25 or more on the beach at once.
Naturalists have a few theories as to why the turtles come ashore to sleep on the beach.  One is that basking in the sun allows the cold-blooded turtles to regulate their body temperature or they may just be escaping from shark predators as they enjoy a peaceful rest.

At the site we met Miranda who is a volunteer for Hawaii Wildlife Fund.  This organization has a team consisting of educators, conservationists, scientists, students, communities and donors devoted to the conservation of Hawai'i's fragile marine ecosystems and inhabitants. Miranda was handing out brochures designed to educate the public about turtles. Ho'okuleana is a Hawaiian word which means "to take responsibility" and give the turtles their space so they can rest without harassment.  The rule is that you must stay at least 15 feet away and refrain from using flash photography or making loud noises. Miranda is a Naturalist/Educator and currently works at the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium.  She also has her own business giving private adventure tours around the island. Check her out at Maui Mana Adventures.

On the way home we all felt elated and privileged to have witnessed this amazing natural phenomenon.
Many mahalos "Honu", for making our day!!!!

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