Yesterday we saw twenty to thirty sea turtles at Richardson Beach in Hilo. They were caught in a large tide pool when the tide went out. When I saw them I wanted to learn more about them, and this is what I learned.
Hawaii has 5 species of sea turtles. They include Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Hawk Beak, Honu, and Leather back. The Honu, or green sea turtle, is most often seen near the shore in Hawaii, which is what we saw. Green sea turtles nest and thrive in the northwestern Hawaiian islands, returning often to the Big Island.
Right now Honu are suffering from a disease called fibropapillomatosis. This virus causes a blackish white cauliflower-looking tumor to grow. These grow on the soft tissue of the inner and outer body. These tumors make it harder for the turtle to breathe, move, look for food, and digest. Nobody knows what causes this disease yet.
In 1993 and 1996 two pregnant sea turtles and lots of hatch-lings were killed by cars when they were trying to cross a road just by the nesting beach. After that happened, people got together and formed the Hawaiian Wildlife Fund. Volunteers patrolled the nesting beaches nightly. In 1998 they decided to put up a sand fence to keep the turtles off the road.
Sea turtles are magnificent creatures. We should respect them and keep our distance away from them. I loved seeing the Honu yesterday.