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The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

By Jonathan Howery

An amazing occurrence that the Hawaii Turtle Tours nearly guarantees every time on their tour is to see The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Found throughout the world, green turtles primarily enjoy tropical waters. The Hawaiian green turtle, known as “Honu” in Hawaiian, is naturally different from other green sea turtle populations by nesting in the French Frigate Shoals of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They feed on the coastline areas of the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian green sea turtle eats marine plants in shallow shoreline waters throughout the Islands. Primarily vegetarian, these turtles eat algae growing underwater on coral reefs and rocks in shallow waters. The upper shell of the adult is dark with olive or gold flecks. Green turtles received their name from the color of their body fat.

The population of this type of green turtle was waning during the 1970s because of people harvesting the turtles and their eggs. Protection began in 1978 has shown that the population is growing steadily. Greens are now the most common sea turtle in Hawaii. But unfortunately, honu or green turtles are suffering from a disease called fibropapillomatosis. The herpes type virus causes the growth of cauliflower like tumors that grow on the soft tissues of the turtle’s body. These tumors hinder hunting, breathing, digestion and. Research is ongoing worldwide to find a cure. Scientists do not know what causes the disease.

For more than 75 million years, these sea turtles have been around in Hawaii. But there are actually three species of sea turtles considered native. The green Honu reaches 200 pounds or more as an adult and mates every two to five year. The hawksbill or “Honu’ea” can be found around the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, and Hawaii. Interestingly, the leatherback meat is poisonous to humans. As the world’s largest turtle, the leatherback grows up to eight feet long and weighs 2,000 pounds. Seen in Hawaii’s deep offshore waters, they feed on jellyfish and do not ordinarily nest on Hawaii’s beaches. The Leatherback is the only sea turtle that does not have a hard shell. Laws to protect these marine species appear to be effective.  There is an increase in their former diminishing statistics.

Enjoy your vacation here in the lovely Hawaiian Islands and if you have any questions about Hawaii Turtle Tours or about this blog, feel free to email at [email protected].

Loa’a wale lā!

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