Shhh! Quiet Please.
When sea turtles (honu) come out of the water it is almost always because they need to rest. Think of the beach as their bedroom then proceed with the same consideration you would appreciate while you are resting. Keep your distance, the Department of Land and Natural Resources recommends about 10ft/3m away, never push a turtle back into the water and do not feed them. It is okay to take photos quietly from a distance.
In the water sea turtles can be naturally curious and may come closer to you. Again, keep a safe distance as much as possible and do not chase or touch them. Be mindful while participating in water activities, whether snorkeling, kayaking or any other ocean sport, we are in their living space.
Sea Turtles are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and wildlife laws of the State of Hawaii. All sea turtles, dead or alive, are protected by law. Harming, harassing or disturbing turtles is prohibited. Touching or feeding turtles is considered a disturbance and therefore illegal. Hefty fines can be assessed for violations.
A resting turtle will lay quite still, it may seem as though the turtle is not breathing, this is normal. If you see a turtle belly up, this is not normal, turtles do not rest on their backs. If a turtle has not moved for two days, is bleeding or has something attached to it that doesn’t belong to them, please contact the number at the bottom of this article. For your health and the safety of the sea turtle it is advised that you contact someone that is trained to respond to the needs of these beautiful beings.
Unfortunately, many turtles can be seen with large tumors, this is not normal but it is sadly way too common. These turtles are unhealthy and again are to be respected and observed from a distance.
Ho’okipa Beach is a wonderful place to see an abundance of sea turtles. The east end of the beach is a popular basking place for them. Volunteers for Hawaii Wildlife Fund monitor this location and can help inform you about safe practices and the current condition of Hawaii’s turtle population. Maui counts on the support of volunteers and all residents and visitors to support our endangered species. Honoring our wildlife, land and ocean is a very integral part of being sustainable on Maui.
If you see a turtle in need of assistance, please call the NOAA Hawai’i Statewide Reporting Hotline at 888-256-9840. This number is also used to report stranded, injured, entangled or dead, Monk Seals, Dolphins and Whales.
For more information from the Department of Land and Natural Resources click Here.
To learn more about volunteering with or supporting Hawaii Wildlife Fund click Here.
For additional opportunities to volunteer or donate to Maui’s non profits click Here.